Children of the Revolution

The Odyssey School Experiment

In a course dedicated to “freeing up the classroom for learning by doing,” students working with Professor Sim Van der Ryn collaborated with Berkeley elementary school teachers and students to restructure local classrooms and playgrounds.
Jim Campe, a Department of Architecture lecturer, spearheaded an initiative to transform a surplus mail van into a nomadic platform for one-day classroom makeovers. The standard phalanx of desks made way for flexible spaces in which children could build. They learned geometry and measurement through simple construction using salvaged materials.
Inflatables, geodesic domes, and playground structures inspired by Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion House offered alternatives to stultifying schoolroom environments. The Farallones Scrapbook, a published record of this reformist venture, became a “West Coast lifestyle” bestseller, funding further collective design enterprises.