August 8, 2023
A New STEM Lab Serves Underprivileged Youth
A Design that Empowers Students to Explore
Code Next fosters a sense of belonging with a “permission-less” approach to equipment and tools with open shelving and storage. Kurani describes the lab as a “third space” away from home and school where students can feel comfortable and in control. With ownership of their environment, they can find inspiration in both tech and creation and grow in confidence through divergent thinking that isn’t always accepted in a traditional academic model that favors “one right answer.”
By laying bare the structure, construction techniques, and materials, the design also promotes a “maker mindset.” Small graphics are etched in discrete locations to explain how different sustainable materials and finishes are created, embedding a sense of discovery in the space. For example, the graphics teach students about carpets made from recycled fishing nets, floors and ceiling tiles that are industrial-looking but plant-based, and countertops made from recycled cardboard and aluminum scrap.
Kurani’s design stems from not only a belief in students’ ability to understand their environment but also a conviction that “architecture is a tool for creating change.” This is evident in the 92 percent of Code Next graduates who pursue higher education, 88 percent of whom go on to undertake STEM majors.
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