10am. We arrive at the school bright and early. The children of Monte all come into the hall greeting us with “bonjourno” and smiles. They are all, by now, quite familiar to us – we’ve been around 3 days with our cameras, measuring tapes, sketch books, including sharing the delicious 3-course lunch meals and making our best efforts to breach the language barrier with hand gestures and speaking the little Italian we have been absorbing, and the classic way - speaking English in the Italian accent.
Before we start with the slideshow, we distribute copies of the plan of the school and ask the children to map with a line the routes they take for their everyday activities like from entering the school to the location of where they hang their coats, their respective classrooms to where they have lunch. We also ask them to star and draw in their favorite spaces and activities. It gives us an interesting insight into spaces dearly loved and the ‘not-so’ used spaces.
We proceed with the slides of various possible design ideas for various spaces with pictures and diagrams they can understand and we can see the excitement build (on both sides) as they respond to our question – which would you like to see happen first? – by picking fairly all the slides!
It’s all well timed - as we are about to finish, we here the lunch bell (un-planned of course).