Storefront Interactions: A School for Contextual Learning
Storefront Interactions is a K-8 public school that seeks to provide a contextual learning environment based on the principles of Place-Based Learning (Sobel et al.) which emphasizes a student’s connection to school, community, and environment. Moving beyond the urban storefront as a place for capital transaction, their ubiquity as a platform through which interaction and engagement occur in our city lends them to becoming a commons of sorts in this proposed educational setting: a commons not in the productive sense (de Angelis), but rather as spaces for non-hierarchical learning and gathering. Through engaging with historical (NY Urban League’s Street Academy, 1966) and contemporary storefront school precedents (The Perry School, W. Village), the first approach to the school design was to create a streetscape condition within the site, conditionally extended to the surrounding streets at different times of the day. In doing so, two rows of storefronts are created which provide the setting for both contextually focused learning and school engagement with the neighborhood. With this in place, the learning environments in the floors above are extensions of this streetscape condition, as corridors and classrooms are dimensionally equal in order to remain non-suggestive and flexible to different teaching and learning conditions.