(No, not that myspace.)
I’m on my computer a lot. Having been a remote worker for 18 months and taking classes online, I needed somewhere to focus. When we bought our house, our bedroom had some recessed shelving already installed. Mishra et al. (2013) refer to architect, Christopher Alexander, and his suggestion that “the environment is best shaped by those native to that environment.” He may have been speaking about larger building projects, but reshaping our environment is a natural and expected behavior.
The entire remodeling industry is built on the fact that people want to reshape existing homes to better suit their needs. In my case, I added the desk in the thumbnail above to the bookshelves. It wasn’t a major project (before), but it was one that made the space suitable for the work (both creative and practical) that I needed to do.
I’m no stranger to home remodeling. Having some space set aside for myself was a respite from the major projects happening at the other end of the home. Again, back to Alexander: we were actively developing, changing, and shaping our environment based on the interactions we wanted to have in the space.
The article raises some interesting questions about how spaces (not just learning spaces) can be built to serve a population or a purpose, but seldom both effectively from the onset. If “architectural creativity” draws from “interactions that exist between the inhabitants of the environment,” (Mishra et al. 2013), does that mean building design has to consider multiple functions for a given space? In other words, can a room truly be built with a particular function in mind and still be effective? How much nuance comes into play with each inhabitant?
Truly effective spaces allow for flexibility in function as well as form. It may not seem like a big consideration, but having space for both old and new media on my desk allows me a greater creative range than I would normally have. Fostering both digital and analog thought allows for greater depth and refinement in “produced” work. Ideas are easier to jot down on paper and then refine out in the coding or writing process. Analogous to filming a project without a storyboard or script, writing by hand helps me find a theme to follow for the rest of the process.
Creating and publishing online has allowed for an unprecedented amount of creativity to both spill over as well as be shared. Anyone can make anything and post it online for the rest of the world to experience. New spaces often focus on providing the means to connect, as is described by Mishra et al. (2013):
The room had two large screens that could be used to project video of the participants at a distance, or to share a computer screen. There were cameras around the room, some of which could be controlled by students at a distance (using a web-based interface). The chairs in the room were unusual too: they were mobile, and equipped with iPads that could be used by participants for video conferencing.
The focus has been on giving students the means to connect rather than the means to create. Students and teachers already have devices on hand, so new spaces need to focus on accentuating the devices already present. So, rather than purchasing iPads, perhaps the space should have focused on peripherals or tools to use with whatever students walked in with. Flexibility in any space doesn’t come just from it’s use, but it what uses are afforded by supplemental tools.
Mishra, P., Cain, W., Sawaya, S., Henriksen, D., & Deep-Play Research Group. (2013). Rethinking Technology & Creativity in the 21st Century: A Room of Their Own. TechTrends, 57(4), 5-9.