Built Envi­ron­ment Educa­tion For Children
Inter­na­tional Policy and Prac­tice
Urban Density Work­shop @arc en rêve centre d’ar­chi­tec­ture
© Marta Brković Dodig
2018 ‑ 2020


There are people all over the world working in the field of built envi­ron­ment educa­tion (BEE) for children. Their back­grounds and their ‘host’ orga­ni­sa­tions differ widely, from educa­tion offi­cers in museums, dedi­cated archi­tec­ture centres and the wider cultural/​third sector, through design and plan­ning prac­ti­tio­ners working either inde­pendently or via their profes­sional bodies, to teachers in schools and kinder­gar­tens. In many cases these prac­ti­tio­ners work with little know­ledge of others in the field and they rarely have the oppor­tu­nity to learn from these other expe­ri­ences or to share their prac­tice.

Over the last 10 years, however, there has been a series of inter­na­tional events that have sought to bring toge­ther people working in dispa­rate areas of the field. From the inten­sive ‘Soun­d­ings’ work­shops of the Alvar Aalto insti­tute, dedi­cated to suppor­ting young prac­ti­tio­ners in children’s archi­tec­ture educa­tion (2004–2007), to a recent inter­na­tional sympo­sium, ‘get involved’, held at the Venice Archi­tec­ture Bien­nale 2012, these well-attended events reflect a strong appe­tite for support and sharing of ideas, know­ledge and expe­ri­ence. These events also provide evidence first of the exis­tence and second of the deve­lo­ping strength of the field.

Looking to exis­ting lite­ra­ture, the field is more diffi­cult to discern. Other than the resul­ting procee­dings from such events, there is scar­cely any widely acces­sible lite­ra­ture published in English for an inter­na­tional audi­ence that show­cases what is happe­ning around the world.



This rese­arch project will result in a book aiming to fill this gap. The book will conso­li­date and define the field of built envi­ron­ment educa­tion for children, through a groun­ding in the field’s histo­rical roots and an exami­na­tion of the state of the art inter­na­tio­nally. It will give prac­ti­tio­ners both a symbolic sense of iden­tity and belon­ging to a valued field of work and also to provide a prac­tical hand­book of examples, criti­cally analysed in order to inform future prac­tice. At the same time the book will open up this field of expe­ri­ence to rese­ar­chers, to support empi­rical rese­arch where there has so far been very little. Part of the way in which the book will achieve these aims will be to share the local expe­ri­ences and insights of expe­ri­enced prac­ti­tio­ners or ‘movers-and-shakers’ in the field.

The book will focus prima­rily on an over­view of rele­vant policy and prac­tice in Europe (inclu­ding UK) and USA (where most of the forma­lised BEE is happe­ning), explo­ring a few other geogra­phical contexts to indi­cate the diver­sity and breadth of prac­tice inter­na­tio­nally. This over­view will consist of a survey of policy and specific examples of prac­tice, struc­tured around the types of bodies orga­ni­sing and faci­li­ta­ting the BEE programmes for children (e.g. museums, out of school children’s clubs, archi­tec­ture and envi­ron­ment centres, univer­si­ties, schools, NGOs, networks, trusts and heri­tage agen­cies), high­ligh­ting specific ‘beacon’ orga­ni­sa­tions or programmes within each sector. These beacon examples will be analysed and presented in-depth, via descrip­tive accounts which reflect the ‘specia­lity’ and exper­tise of the orga­ni­sa­tion or progamme. The case studies are intended to provide readers with insights about how success was achieved, and the condi­tions that supported this success at local/​regional/​national, even inter­na­tional levels where appro­priate. The beacon cases will be chosen to repre­sent a diverse range of coun­tries, condi­tions and orga­ni­sa­tion-types, inclu­ding varied working prac­tises.

In addi­tion to this core analy­tical over­view of inter­na­tional policy and prac­tice, there will be an intro­duc­tory summary of the theory, histo­rical roots and the exis­ting rese­arch on children’s BEE. The book will conclude by drawing out the major themes and lessons from the survey and case studies, iden­ti­fying areas for future rese­arch and policy- deve­lop­ment and explo­ring the impli­ca­tions of the survey for future prac­tice.



Alex­ander von Humboldt Foun­da­tion



Prof. Dr. Angela Million
Prof. Dr. Rosie Parnell (NU)
Asst. Prof. Dr. Marta Brković Dodig