In documenting our architecture project, I’ve struggled with how much to interrogate the children about their buildings.
Tell me about your building?
What’s that for?
All of the questioning gets a little tedious for both of us and the buildings themselves speak so strongly on their own that I wonder about the need to layer text on top of that.
Part of this project, for me, was to validate building as an important language of expression by really digging into in and creating longer-term building projects instead of the build and break construction projects that kids create every day using blocks, tiles, cups, etc…
I’m astonished by the diversity of their work and by how clearly they’ve communicated their own personalities and thinking without using a word. To say that they are different from each other isn’t enough – in many ways they are their buildings.
But, once they take their buildings home all we will have left are photos and text, so I decided, in the interests of posterity, to ask them to tell me whatever they thought they would like people to know about their architecture. I’ve formatted them as poetry because it seemed to fit – one language for another. Here are the first two:
The roof is straight and not bendy.
The steps help you get up and down the slide.
There’s a stove on the roof.
That part (the V) is for bad guys to trip… it’s the tripper.
The chimney is for smoke.
The flower is for people to see it.
The diving board is for people to jump off; water is there.
The square behind the slide is for bad guys not to get in the house.
No Santa allowed in the house; there’s no more Christmas!
The hole is for people to pop up. There’s an invisible trampoline underneath.
It’s all done.
I don’t have any chimney
There’s a window in the wall and in the roof.
There’s a gate and around it is to hold the gate up.
There’s a triangle mouse hole on each side ‘cause the mommies and the daddies go in one hole and the babies go in the other hole.
There’s a surfboard on the roof.
The glue is snow.
There’s a chair inside the back door.
I couldn’t have made them more different if I’d tried – the buildings or the girls who built them. I’m still not sure about how much to value the text but I’m hoping that we are becoming more multilingual these days; maybe we can speak architecture and English without privileging the latter.