Elaine Zmuda

project list

Chinatown Montessori

October - December 2016

Chicago is inseparable from its river.   Historically, our relationship with the river has been tumultuous - we’ve bent it to better suit our needs, used it as a dump, and even  altered the ecology by reversing the flow.  While we still can’t use our river to its full potential for recreation, we can already learn from its history in Chicago.

To education students, this school interrupts the urban water cycle to benefit both students and the environment. Rather than dump all site wastewater into the taxed sewer system, it is sent into a constructed wastewater wetland and returned to the river.  The wetland becomes an outdoor classroom.

The new model for education proposed is based on students helping each other to learn.  Classrooms are grouped together with two different age groups or grades sharing a mixing space both inside and outside.  The mixing space is where students of different years can work together on projects, read together, and socialize.  This nurtures their curiosity to learn from all sources, be it teacher, fellow student, or the land around them.