Learning Via Home Design

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For the past nine years, Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., has taught girls in grades 8-12 about architecture during its SummerMath program.

May 01, 2002

 

SummerMath students Daniela Silva (left) and Sasha Keller-Tripp will study naval architecture this fall.

Architect Ken Reif designed his Quick Planner and 3-D Home Kit 19 years ago to help custom home builders’ clients become better acquainted with their dream homes. But for the past nine years, Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., has used the kits to teach girls in grades 8-12 about architecture during its SummerMath program.

“Students wanted to use products builders actually use in the field,” says Reif, president of Design Works Inc. in Amherst, Mass. “They didn't want a watered-down version.”

Reif directs and observes the students’ design projects during the two-week architecture and math portion of SummerMath. Participants come from across the world, representing varied economic and ethnic backgrounds, and Reif says this diversity inspires vast design creativity.

“There’s no right or wrong in architecture,” Reif says. “It’s free expression, and it gives the students a chance to expand their ideas in a way they can’t in a regular classroom.”

Reif says the most interesting designs he has seen re-flect the student’s background. For example, a student from Puerto Rico designed a home with open-air corridors, a Virgin Islands girl designed roof structures to capture drinking water, and a Californian used pyramid-like structures reminiscent of a beach house.

“Every one of my students has that strong desire to express what home means to them, and that seems to be universal,” Reif says.

Visit www.homeplanner.com for more information on Design Works’ kits.

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