AMI Talks – Building Schools

6 January is an historical date on the Montessori calender—as it marks the opening of the first Casa dei Bambini in 1907.

What those first Case dei Bambini demonstrated so clearly, while Maria Montessori was developing her ideas, is that the environment is one of the major players in her approach. From the environment knowledge is taken and absorbed.

On 6 January 2022, we shared the first AMI Talk of the new year, featuring a great line-up: Supported by the Arthur Waser Foundation and realised together with AMI, architect Benjamin Stæhli discussed the Montessori architecture project he is driving together with his colleague, Steve Lawrence. Benjamin also gave background on the design instrument they developed. 

From Tanzania, we heard from architect Victoria Marwa, co-founder of Tanzania Women Architects for Humanity (TAWAH), and from the APC Team (Tanzania) about how they have been inspired to use Montessori architectural patterns in designing Montessori Children's Houses and schools. All of this work shows us how everywhere in the world we can build schools that live out the Montessori principles, and offer an environment where children can thrive.  We are sure you will gain some great take-aways that can be applied in your own countries.

Doreen Fred from Architectural Pioneering Consultants is an Architect who has been working on the Montessori Simba Vision School Project in Arusha region. The project is currently in the construction stage close to completion ( Beyond this responsibility, she is an assistant lecturer at Ardhi University in Dar es Salaam. 

Benjamin Stæhli has worked as scientific team leader at the Future Cities Laboratory at the National University of Singapore and as town project coordinator for the Federal Institution of Technology, Zurich, Switzerland. He spent five years in Ethiopia, coordinating the implementation of a model town before joining the Arthur Waser Foundation in 2017. As a member of the Silentmusic Collective, he researches and lectures on educational and communal architecture.

Benjamin, together with Steve Lawrence, recently launched a book and an online tool called 'Montessori Architecture — A Design Instrument'. The instrument is to help in the worldwide design of  schools based on the Montessori educational approach.

Dr. Victoria Marwa Heilman is a practicing architect in Tanzania. She is the Founder and Managing Director of Alama Architecture, a company that she started in 2012 while teaching at Ardhi University. Victoria is passionate about helping communities in need through her knowledge and expertise in architecture. She is the co-founder of Tanzania Women Architects for Humanity (TAWAH), a NGO that works together with women and youths to build adequate shelter for poor communities in Tanzania.

In 2018, Victoria left the university to devote more time to Alama Architecture and TAWAH. Victoria holds a PhD. in Architecture from the University of Stuttgart, a Master degree in Architecture from the Catholic University of America and a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Dar es Salaam. Victoria was a Ford Foundation IFP fellow 2004, an Eisenhower Fellow in 2016 and a Mama Hope Global Advocate in 2020.

We invite you to watch the video of the session.