“Schools began with a man under a tree who did not know he was a teacher discussing his realization with a few who did not know they were students. The students reflected on what was exchanged and how good it was to be in the presence of this man. They aspired that their sons also listen to such a man. Soon spaces were erected and the first schools became. The establishment of school was inevitable because it was part of the desires of man.… The entire system of schools that followed from the beginning would not have been possible if the beginning were not in harmony with the nature of man. It can be said that the existence will of school was there even before the circumstances of the man under a tree.” — Louis I. Kahn

I became interested in working on a Santa Cruz Waldorf High School as a senior thesis project since I have always been interested in working on architecture for education, and this particular project presents an interesting challenge: Waldorf schools already usually have a definite look, inspired by the architectural work of Rudolf Steiner. Does one take this form and just reproduce it again? How can one look into what adolescents demand and need, and provide for that in Architecture? Is it possible for the immediate community and the local environment to be absorbed into the architecture?

My whole family has been very involved in the Anthroposophical world from my late Grandfather, Adam Bittleston, who wrote much related to both Rudolf Steiner’s work and Anthroposophy, and was a priest in the Christian Community in England; to both my parents who were Waldorf teachers; to my brothers, sisters and myself who have all been to Waldorf schools. Two of my sisters attended the Santa Cruz Waldorf school which is currently only to eighth grade, and so I was made aware of their possible future: a high school by the year 2000.

My contact through this has been Tori Milburn to whom I am very thankful for her helpful information. The neighbors, too, helped me, though they did not know of my affiliation with the school they love to hate. And of course, Professor Karen Lange’s glasses prescription has probably gone up a few diopters reading this project.

— Mathew Bittleston

The Santa Cruz Waldorf School was founded in 1976 and is located in the Santa Cruz Mountains, about ten minutes out of the City of Santa Cruz and is an immediate neighbor to the University of California. It is a private school, with three kindergartens, first through eighth grades and 210 students. It started at a different site down in Santa Cruz and moved to this site in 1979, replacing what was a Montessori kindergarten. Since then, the three parcels which form the current site have been accumulated through donations and loan-alliances created by the founding parents. Three double classrooms have been built over the years. Parents have always been the driving force behind this school, and will continue to be in the future. It is the vision of current parents that would project a High School here. The proposed maximum size for the Elementary school is 245 students with a High School of approximately 120 (four classes of 30 students.)

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Waldorf teachers are dedicated to creating a
genuine love of learning within each child.

The aim of Waldorf schooling is to educate
the whole child, “head, heart, and hands.”
—Anthroposophy at Work