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Richard J. Neutra’s seminal model schools are generally disregarded in critical literature, yet the underlying preoccupations were significant. Based on exploration of contemporary themes in medicine, education and architecture, one favoured preoccupation of Neutra’s is nature. He concludes that its potency is manifold, suggesting that exposing children to nature in an experiential way could contribute to their health, well-being and education. His model school design became the idea manifest, placing particular responsibilities on the form to achieve these ideals. However interrogation of Neutra’s forms in context reveals a lingering sense that the ideals are not always achieved. Neutra suggests particular orientations towards prevailing conditions, to orchestrate a series of relationships between the form and environment, which some of the schools appear to markedly contradict, effecting the ways by which the form can enable relationships to develop between children and their environment.
These investigations suggest how a separation of vision and form can become architecture. By elucidating the rhetoric and the reality, this research proposes to gain new insights into the meaning of architecture itself and its capacity for engagement with theoretical ideals. This research proposes to understand the complexity of what architects say, to explain why architecture appears, and performs the way that it does.
O'Sheridan, S. Neutra's Pedagogic Designs. Emerging Research Conference, 2nd All-Ireland Architecture Research Group Annual Meeting, Limerick, 24-25 Jan 2013.