Children building-with human and other-than-human creatural materials

Year: 2021

Author: Peñaloza-Caicedo, Andreia

Type of paper: Symposium

My speculative research-creation study aims to create a pedagogical tool for the practice of Children’s Architecture Education (ChAE), for humans to consider themselves and the environment as mutual active forces, as dynamic intermixed worlds. Conventionally, ChAE is an anthropocentric practice that favours humans over other-than-humans needs, claims and actions in their understanding of architecture (spaces for human comfort) and education (child-centred pedagogies). Instead, this speculative research-creation project thinks-with the concepts of across species, across spatial scales, and across shores, to dissolve boundaries between species, local-global scales, and territories. Emerging in the intricate junction of art (architecture and children’s architecture education), theory (non-anthropocentric posthumanist, feminist, new-materialist, process theories), and research (speculative research-creation event); this project aims to nurture environmental health for social and ecological justice on Earth. Five children living in Australia and five children living in Colombia (and I in Australia) conducted a remote speculative research-creation event, we i) make kin with human and other-than-human creatures to build space-architecture with/for different species to co-inhabit (across species), ii) think-build spaces with/for the body to the universe (across spatial scales), and iii) think-build with/for children from different countries (across shores). With this experiment, an ethico-political pedagogical tool will emerge, for children to dream of (im)possible futures, where all species build the environment together. It is a risky experiment in the density of the present, to create responses that seem to be (im)possible today, but might be possible for an unknown future Earth in need of repair.For the symposium, a visual ethnographer, a multispecies ethnographer, and I as a cross-species-scales-shores speculator explore how materials co-participate in our projects. Across this collaborative exploration, we share our writing today, to reimagine education and research for tomorrow. By tracing the interferences of mutual relations between all human and other-than-human creatural materials, I share their co-participation in the speculative exploratory (collection of materials) and building moments. For instance, offshore colleagues and relatives join forces to prepare materials to send to the children, despite the protests and the pandemic blocking Colombian cities. Children living in both countries (and I) create together, although the language and 15-hour time differences. Seeds, salt, clay, plaster and cheese intra-acting with water as a provocation for children to build-with leaves, branches, barks, yarn, rolls, sand, eggshells, seashells, and equipment (im)possible co-inhabited spaces with/for the fantastic creatures they choose. A burrow for snow leopards and rabbits, and a shelter for human whales are some of the children’s speculations for imagining a non-human centred education.