Freilandlabor Britz e.V.
Freilandlabor Britz e.V. is a non-profit association in Berlin which, since 1986, has promoted and supported environmental education and public relations in nature and environmental protection for all target and age groups. The association has been running the Environmental Education Center, of the same name, in Britzer Garten, a 100-hectare park in the south of Berlin for almost 30 years.
Since 1994, the association has also been the sponsor of the “Grün macht Schule” work group, the co-operation partner of the pedagogical advisory center “Grün macht Schule” (Senate Administration for Education, Youth and Science).
Additional projects include:
– A seasonal location for environmental education, the Research Tent ( Forscherzelt), on Tempelhofer Feld.
– The Eco-Club project ( “Ökolaube“ ), an imitation garden plot
– Nature and environmental projects in socially problematic, inner-city urban districts.
The work is carried out by full-time and voluntary employees. The association is financed by membership fees, donations and grants from the Senate Administration for Urban Development and Environment.
Grün macht Schule
Grün macht Schule” (GmS) is a counseling center of the Senate Administration for Education, Youth and Family in Berlin, for schools and kindergartens which need to sustainably improve the habitat quality of their open spaces and adapt them to today’s educational tasks.
GmS informs, advises and supervises schools, school initiatives and kindergartens in the planning and implementation of environmental projects, particularly in the creation and design of child-friendly natural surroundings and ecological places of learning on school grounds. The focus is on the implementation of regional and inter-regional training events and the monitoring and coordination of planning and construction processes in close cooperation with landscape planners and the administrations and organizations involved.
The overriding principles of “Grün macht Schule” are to assist toward self-help and to involve children and young people, teachers and educators, as well as the parents and the school environment at all stages of the transformation including the integration of the projects into the daily life and learning of the pupils.
Instead of large-scale, well-arranged, uninspiring school yards, with the support of “Grün macht Schule” in Berlin, more and more small-scale, green school yards enriched with imaginative artistic objects, games, movement and communication facilities have been developed which can also be used outside of school hours.
The counseling center intensively promotes a Pedagogical Landscape Architecture („Pädagogische Landschaftsarchitektur“), of which the goal is not architectural design, but the creation of a healthy, sustainable living environment in schools and day care centers.
GmS is thus an interdisciplinary 4-member team. Two educators, a landscape architect and a coordinator have jointly supervised more than 600 open-space projects in Berlin’s educational institutions in the past 4 years.
Birgit Teichmann grew up in the historically diverse city of Berlin. Following in the footsteps of many German college students she found her way to the USA in a work study program at The Ohio State University sponsored by the CDG, Carl Duisberg Society. This enriching experience broadened her understanding of the world and fed her interest in ecological landscape management. Back on her home turf she continued her path on becoming a landscape architect, focusing on open green areas, working with youth organizations and landscape development.
In 1997 she started a landscape planning office in the heart of Berlin. The office has been creating, planning and directing successful projects for more than 10 years in commercial, civic and residential areas. Since the 90’s Birgit has set the bar with her work in ecological, educational and communal ventures in Europe.
She works together with architects, city planners, arborists, gardeners, monument preservationists, teachers and archeologists to complete projects with professional flair and genuine care. Great ecological play areas for children has always been Birgit’s passion, with 2 girls of her own, her interest in creative, healthy and safe green spaces has been her focus.
Every educational institution is already diverse, whether cultural or social, and every living environment too. However, in terms of an efficient open space design, the motto was often to avoid, to standardize, or even to ignore diversity. Everything had to be clearly organized, fixed, easy to maintain, cost-efficient and safe.
With increasing globalization and the resulting change and pressures to adapt, as well as stronger individualization of children and adolescents, it has become clear that the natural principle of diversity must no longer be regarded as a troublesome circumstance, but must become central to the living environment.
At GmS, we have been dealing with diversity in school yards for more than 30 years. On the basis of our experience, we see that our schoolyards and kindergartens, with open spaces for the users, have such a high quality because they are designed according to the principle of diversity. We know for sure that diversity makes us better – both inwardly during the educational process and outwardly when recognizing social needs.
In collaboration with the ISGA, we want to highlight the cultural, biological and socially diverse design of living spaces for children and young people worldwide at the 6th School yard conference ( „Schulhofkonferenz“ ), to present our variety of projects in Berlin during an excursion and ultimately with the cultural diversity of conference participants from all over the world in a schoolyard.
Diversity, however exhausting it sometimes appears, is ultimately the foundation for education, health and social life. It determines the quality of the living space in our educational institutions. Whoever has understood the diversity principle also understands why schoolyard diversity is a strategic educational task. We hope that this conference will provide us with new inspiration.
It is about nothing less than a paradigm shift.