Studio H

SUMMARY: Studio H is an academic design/build curriculum for middle school and high school youth. Over a one-year term, students apply core subject knowledge in a design studio environment to develop, engineer, and physically construct public architecture projects for the social and economic benefit of a broad community.

PROBLEM SPACE: As resources for schools are continually limited, all young people, but particularly high-need students, are asking for relevant, project-based learning. Communities benefit socially, economically, and environmentally from a deep investment in their local schools. Studio H addresses both opportunities, providing a “21st century shop class” environment for students to voice audacious ideas, learn all the creative and construction skills to bring them to life in the form of public architecture, and do so in conversation and collaboration with the community beyond their school walls.

Nationwide and globally, young people need opportunities to build a broad toolbox of technical, industry-relevant, socio-emotional, and practical skills in order to graduate, pursue higher education, and become compassionate and productive life-long citizens. Within most schools, subject-specific, often theoretical or rote instruction does not create pathways for students to connect their education to their future and the real needs of their communities. From welding and carpentry to 3d printing, participatory action research, and collaborative design, Studio H skills prepare young people to be both leaders and brave builders in their own lives and in the world.

SOLUTION: Studio H is a core initiative of the nonprofit Project H Design. Studio H began as a high school class in 2010 in rural Bertie County, North Carolina. During its first two years, 47 students designed and built a 2000-sq-ft farmers market, 2 farmstands, 3 public chicken coops, and earned high school credit and 17 college credits per academic year. In 2012, Studio H relocated to REALM Charter School in Berkeley, CA, where we currently teach 216 students, 8th-11th grade, every day. Students earn regular class credit as well as potential work stipends during construction. The course is taught by trained architects who have over 20 total years of experience with youth programming, general contracting work, and design development.

During the one-year course, students work under the mantra “Design. Build. Transform.” They are challenged to voice audacious design ideas that address a social need, apply right- and left-brain core subject learning, work with local government and neighbors to develop and prototype the solution, then learn and use all technical building skills necessary to physically build the structure by hand. Skills learned include drafting, scale-modeling, 3d rendering, laser-cutting, fabrication, precedent-based research, masonry, carpentry, welding, public communication, advertising, and more.

CONTACT PERSON: [email protected]