Reggio Emilia North American Study Tour: Day 5 – What’s An Atelier?

food3The entire afternoon was to be a “hands-on” exploration of the five “atelier” spaces at the Loris Malaguzzi Center. Lorella Trancossi introduced the concept of the Reggio “atelier,” and shared how each individual “atelier,” or workshop space, was related to each of the others. The unifying concept of the atelier space is that each large, open area provides unlimited possibilities for exploration leading to the transformation of thoughts and transmission of ideas. [Please note that we were not permitted to take photographs of the atelier spaces. The images in this post are representative samples gathered from the Internet.]


artwords and materials

The first workshop “atelier” space, titled Mosaic of Masks, Words, and Materials, is given to drawing; observational and sketching. In this way children imagine, interpret, and communicate with a multitude of natural or synthetic materials. Links between materials and verbal and written language are explored while creative potential is released.


The second “atelier” space takes users into Digital Landscapes. In this space children explore the lightconnection between digital devices and their capacity to project light and manipulative materials (e.g. blocks, statues, plexiglass shapes). Mixing these materials provokes hypotheses around science colight2ncepts (i.e. physics and the properties of light, balance and stability, etc.) allowing even preschoolers to engage in the language of learning. I was gratified to see how imaginatively the “atelieristas” – persons who set up and facilitated users in the space – recycled decades old technologies like overhead projectors.


Everything On the Table was the third “atelier” to which we were introduced. food2Transforming raw cookingfoodstuffs into human nutrition is studied as seriously as other academic endeavors. It is in this atelier that research into the background of food (e.g. Where does food come from?), safe preparation and aesthetically pleasing presentation, healthy eating, the use of leftovers, development of habits of
composting, and consideration of re-useable food containers is
explored. Recycling (“remida”) is a significant part of this workshop space.


planetThe transformation of the natural world is showcased in the fourth “atelier.” Called the Living Organism, children explore the variety and the beauty of life’s cycles. It is here where children contemplate nature’s secrets; where they begin to develop emotional and empathetic responses to nature, to natural materials, and to reflect on their own place in the larger world. It living2is here where children begin to understand and appreciate beauty, aesthetic beauty, as a part of every life.


Planetary Messplanet2ages, the fifth “atelier,” is showcased in the Milano EXPO 2015 exhibit “Ring Around the Future.” This atelier permits children to explore the ethical foundations and cultural differences of the planet’s many societies. Through empathetic examination and devout understanding of the interdependence of planetary systems, children are transformed into planetary citizens.

I will share my experience with one of these “atelier” spaces, Digital Landscapes, in the next post.


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