In the age of convenience—instant digital technology and fast food—it can be hard for kids to feel connected to nature and to what they eat. With this in mind, Rome-based designers Edoardo Capuzzo Dolcetta, Gabriele Capobianco, Davide Troiana, and Jonathan Lazar have created an innovative way to introduce children to the outdoor environment. Their proposal—which recently won the AWR International Ideas Competition—is called Nursery Fields Forever, and it combines urban farming with a preschool education.
Nursery Fields Forever offers three approaches to learning: from nature; from technique; and from practice. Children will be taught to grow and harvest their own food, as well as interact with animals. These tasks, though small ones, can have a positive effect on kids' everyday lives. The hands-on method instills valuable social skills, teamwork, and promotes a healthy lifestyle from a young age. At the same time, students will also learn about the benefits of renewable energy—including wind turbines and solar arrays—that keep the school running.
“We think that kids should enjoy nature,” Dolcetta told Fast Company. “So we designed this strange school: No classrooms, but open spaces where vegetables grow inside and animals can come in too. It’s a mixing of the two things, school and nature.” With this model, children are engaged in learning that will inspire them to think differently. "A typical school has desks and chairs—in our school, there are not these things. And there's the freedom to stay inside or go outside."
Here's how it would work:
The proposed layout for the farm: