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Vulnerability and risk: rebuilding communities after disaster


At CORNWALL in United Kingdom
In 2006
By Architecture Sans Frontières - UK
Local partners: IDee and Eden Project
Donors: Self funding

Following on from the success of ASF-UK’s Summer School, in 2005, a second summer school took place at the Eden Project in Cornwall in 2006.

This year the emphasis was on linking relief and early interventions with longer term developmental goals. It included a 2 day component of lectures and workshops led by world renowned speakers including Professor Nabeel Hamdi (Oxford Brookes University) and Mr. Anshu Sharma (SEEDS, India) who discussed rebuilding communities after disaster in relation to their own work.

Students were encouraged to discuss the issues of vulnerability and livelihoods, and vernacular responses to emergency shelter. The theories were put into practice with the building of temporary structures from waste materials in the Hot Tropics Biome of the Eden project in Cornwall. The structures stayed in the Biome for several months and continued to engage public understanding regarding living conditions of vulnerable people worldwide.

Category: Workshop & Education Medium / Technology / Material: Recycled Waste & Recycled Materials Typology: Temporary structures
temporary structure
temporary structure detail
building process

The key RHS Chelsea flower show garden

Homelessness, positive change

At LONDON in United Kingdom
By Architecture Sans Frontières - UK
Local partners: Eden Project, Noah Enterprise Centre and Homelesslink
Donors: Homes and Communities Agency

ASF-UK created a symbolic pavilion centrepiece for a major show garden at 2009 RHS Chelsea Flower Show to help raise the issue of homelessness and positive change. The project highlighted the work of Places of Change, an £80m capital improvement funding programme managed by the Homes and Communities Agency which seeks to identify, encourage, engage and realise the potential of homeless people enabling them to move on with, and turn around, their lives.

The Key garden was the product of a unique and ambitious collaboration between the Homes and Communities Agency, Communities and Local Government, the Eden Project, Homeless Link and Architecture Sans Frontières-UK. Poets, artists, gardeners and craft workers around the country who have been or remain homeless all helped in creating a place of hope, aspiration and community within a garden whose main theme is homelessness, as part of ‘The Key’ show garden design at Chelsea.

The design was founded on sustainability, resourcefulness, and the creative adaptation of materials that were once discarded by society as waste. These materials were transformed by people who have themselves experienced social exclusion through homelessness and who are now being trained at St Edmunds Society in Norwich and Noah Enterprise Centre in Luton. The pavilion brief was to create a place of hope, aspiration, community and activity. At the same time it has been a tool which has encouraged and enabled as many people as possible to contribute to its creation.

The “Place of Change” pavilion was defined by reclaimed timber posts. Artworks are stencilled on the timbers expressing a personal life journey of offending, homelessness and redemption. The centre-piece of the pavilion was a large multipurpose meeting table which doubles as a planting bench, made from salvaged old doors and windows. Car windscreens were used to cover sitting shelters and the posts and timber were all reclaimed materials. The garden received formal recognition in the form of an RHS Silver Flora medal and third place in the People’s Choice Awards. The pavilion has been a springboard for those who participated in the process to achieving increased confidence and inspiration, new skills and networks, and employment opportunities.

Category: Workshop & Homeless people Medium / Technology / Material: Recycled Waste & Recycled Materials
construction process
construction site
press interview


Community participation methods

At LONDON in United Kingdom
In 2006
By Architecture Sans Frontières - UK
Local partners: London Architecture Biennale

Re-Cover(y) was a project launched by ASF UK for the London Architecture Biennale, 2006. It involved a team of students and architects, lead by Peruvian architect Mariana Leguia. The aim of the installation was to demonstrate how peoples’ interactions with London and its built environment are changing, and raise issues of development, society and sustainability in relation to urban settlement.

Traditional design practice was abandoned in favour of more participatory and democratic methods of design. Through unconventional methods of mapping the participants discovered contrasts, idiosyncrasies and qualities that might have otherwise been missed in Vernon Square near Kings Cross in London.

Different methods were used for generating design ideas encouraging students to take on the roles of ‘user’, ‘negotiator’ and ‘technician’ exploring the potential of the site and resources available. All of the materials had been salvaged or donated including pallets, carpet tiles, plastic bottles, 2 sails and 3 doors. The installation allowed people to see the potential in the space and ideas for the future change.

Category: Workshop & Community Participation Medium / Technology / Material: Recycled Waste, Pallets, Carpet tiles & Plastic bottles Typology: Mapping
workshop site
workshop sketch
workshop sketch

Building communities 1

At CORNWALL in United Kingdom
In 2005
By Architecture Sans Frontières - UK
Local partners: IDee and Eden Project
Donors: Self funding

In September 2005, ASF-UK held a summer school at the Eden Project in Cornwall involving 35 students and professionals. The theme of post disaster shelter and settlement engaged the participants’ creative skills and ideas with key global issues: the environment, poverty and human rights. It is estimated that one-sixth of the world’s population live in informal settlements (2006). With this in mind the participants considered the role of the architect and how the built environment might become sustainable. They explored participatory practice and dialogue with vulnerable people in order to sustain livelihoods, resources, cultures and communities. Plans made in the classroom were superseded by the need for immediate innovation as students set about building shelters in a day to sleep in, with materials sourced from the Eden Project’s waste management team. The process gave the group an insight into how people innovate under extreme limitations on time, space and resources to fulfill the basic needs of shelter.

Medium / Technology / Material: Recycled Waste Typology: Education

Buiding Communities 4

Urban poor housing evaluation/ grass root organisation support

From 2009 to 2010
By Architecture Sans Frontières - UK
Local partners: Sociedade Primeiro de Maio
Donors: Self funding

In April 2009, ASF-UK in conjunction with Dr. Alex Frediani of the Development Planning Unit, University College London, carried out a two week workshop in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. Salvador da Bahia is the third largest city in Brazil with more than 3 million inhabitants. The 8% of land that is still available is highly desirable to developers and the 90,000 homeless estimated in 2000. Collective action has been the major mechanism for the poor to claim land in Salvador da Bahia. The workshop explored and assessed two contrasting initiatives – one led by the state government and one led by a social movement - to address the housing crisis of Salvador.

During the first week participants reflected with local residents of Novos Alagados on the impacts of the poverty alleviation programme Ribeira Azul (managed by the state government of Bahia and the Italian NGO AVSI), by looking at how the interventions are affecting residents’ ability and opportunity to achieve their housing aspirations. Through photo mapping exercises and discussions individuals shared their views and further insight was given to members about how problems, common or otherwise, affect each other and the community as a whole. Based on these discussions, each group made a poster expressing the findings, then shared with the Socieda de Primeiro de Maio. In the second week the focus turned to Escada and the occupation by the MSTB, an active group occupying strategically unused buildings and sites for the construction of temporary and permanent houses. The objective was to contribute to the clarification of the mechanisms for the consolidation of occupations, strengthen local solutions and explore mechanisms to scale them up. One group approached the task with an ‘institutional’ perspective, another with a ‘community’ perspective and the third focused on the ‘house’ and ‘building components’.

The workshop highlighted problems on an individual, community and institutional level. The participatory and visual tools enabled participants to engage with the community to understand their perspective, the impact of projects and how future development programmes can address not only the manifestation of current problems but also their root causes. Through a follow up workshop in 2010 ASF-UK hope to continue to build capacity of the local organisations on the ground in Salvador.

Medium / Technology / Material: Recycled Waste Typology: Workshop
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