We kicked off 2021 with excitement and productive spirit — first time ever VIVISTOP Telliskivi members could dive into the concept of architecture. It all started with Ivo Visak, an Estonian Academy of Arts student and the principal of Saaremaa Riigigümnaasium, who as an intern initiated a virtual 3-day workshop with practical spatial challenges. The workshop structure was inspired by a textbook written by the School of Architecture, a hobby school in Estonia.

“Doing the internship at VIVISTOP was for sure a positive experience. First of all, VIVITA team members really helped me planning creative challenges. Secondly, the youngsters were keen to participate and articulated their thoughts in a free manner. Children were open to the concept that space is not just four walls, although we had to get used to this view during the crisis, “ mentioned Ivo Visak as a summary.

An apartment layout was created as a team challenge. Photo: VIVITA Estonia

A four-legged friend — chair

The discussion started with an analysis of an everyday object — the chair. By measuring all the different parts of this object we arrived together at a big conclusion — spaces, and objects within it, are inspired by HUMANS. But does every object also have multiple ways of usage? Let’s figure it out by testing different ways of sitting on a chair — what happens if I sit on it backwards or if I only lay my legs on it. If these new “sitting” options are comfortable, that is completely another question…

During this session, children could also practice perspective-taking by thinking like an elf — how does a thumb-sized figure move freely around my house and where could he sit comfortably. How about I put many pillows in front of my couch so that the elf could also reach this soft surface or perhaps he could take a rest in the soil in my flowerpot?

These practical challenges helped the children understand the relationship between themselves and the space around them. How do spatial proportions affect our lives? How do we usually use spaces and how else it could be used? These and similar questions were answered through an experience.

A folded house

The workshop series continued with a spatial exploration, this time the focus was making paper mock-ups. As a warm-up exercise, children could draw their room plan to understand how it looks like from above. After this active folding could start — first without glue or scissors different buildings were made, later also free experimentation was encouraged. From towers to sculptures and cottage houses, the wide scope of spaces was fully explored.

The best building material is …. a DOG

During the last meet-up, children had an opportunity to get inspired by different architectural buildings and with a quick sketching style try to get the essence of the space on the paper. As a follow up to the previous spatial exercises, children got acquainted with a new aspect — analysing building materials. Children ran around the house and discovered all the different surfaces used. During a discussion, every material was described using only adjectives. This created relation to how much all the materials influence our general mood.

A dog and a LEGO robot is the most exciting “building” material according to children. Photo: VIVITA Estonia

The goal of the 3-day workshop was to go through an experimental process and speculate about the meaning of “a space”. Through philosophical discussions and thought experiments it became clear what kind of design decisions are related to architecture. We all arrived at the same conclusion — user experience is the center of a well-designed space. For example, children realised that pets create the warmth of a home. No wonder that all the interior magazines include pictures of happy dogs and cats. They seem to have uncovered the secret…

Text: Eva Liisa Kubinyi / VIVITA Estonia
Photos: Eva Liisa Kubinyi / VIVITA Estonia


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