Project H Design, the design nonprofit founded in 2008 by Inhabitat Senior Editor Emily Pilloton, is in the running for a $50,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project to launch Studio H, a high school design and vocational program in the poorest county in North Carolina. Studio H will be a one-year program, taught by Emily Pilloton and Project H architect Matthew Miller, combining design thinking, vocational shop skills, and community service to collectively build one big project per year in a rural county in need (first project: bus shelters for the school bus system!).
The $50,000 grant would fund Project H’s shop build-out at the high school, and the first year’s construction materials. To land the funding, they need votes to secure a spot in the top ten (right now they’re at #12!).
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An innovative pedagogical approach, Studio H will empower struggling students through highly collaborative hands-on learning, engage educational capacities to the fullest, and provide a diverse skillset for the next generation to access broader job markets, improve their community and excel academically in the state’s poorest and most racially polarized county.
The elective program will be open to high school juniors, and will combine 4 main components: systems-level design thinking, trade skills, writing skills, and community engagement. Each year, Studio H students will collaborate to produce one “design/build” project, built by the students for and with the community.
Project H’s Connect Bertie campaign for free broadband for all district families
Students will first develop multi-scale design skills, including visual comprehension, collaborative and iterative ideation, and basic modeling skills, based on Project H’s own human-centered design process. Students will then learn trade skills including wood and metal fabrication in the on-campus shop space, computer-aided design, and 3-d prototyping as a means to visualize possible solutions, gauge physical constraints and consequences, and generatively understand material construction.
Summer building workshops with students
During the summer following the school year, students will be employed by Studio H and paid fair wage to carry out the construction of the designs they have developed, prototyped, and tested throughout the year.
New computer lab schemes designed for the high school by Project H
Studio H will be taught by Emily Pilloton and Matthew Miller, Executive Director and Project Architect of design nonprofit Project H Design, who will be certified as high school teachers. Trained as industrial designers and architects, Pilloton and Miller have taught design at the university level, and have completed numerous design projects for the Bertie County Schools, including educational playgrounds and computer labs.