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Kitcisakik village, homes renovation for Algonquin population

Reinforcing local capacities in housing

At Kitcisakik in Canada
From 2010 to 2015
By Architecture Sans Frontières Québec - Canada
Local partners: Kitcisakik, , SHQ, APNQL and Fondation Frontières
Donors: Goodfellow, Soprema, BMR and Sico

The Anishinaabe community in Kitcisakik had been living in dilapidated housing, which was impacting the well-being of its 500 members. Like many other Aboriginal communities in Quebec, the Anishinaabe were facing housing conditions that included a lack of space, lack of running water and electricity, dependence on fossil fuels and insufficient insulation and airtightness in their buildings. In 2008, Guillaume Lévesque, who was impacted by this situation, garnered the ASFQ’s support to design a project that solicited local community involvement, along with that of volunteers and local professionals. In September 2009, the work began with the support of Fondation Frontières and several manufacturing-sector sponsors. In December, the federal government announced substantial support to support renovations and compensate 20 Aboriginal workers for a three-year period. This participative architectural process combined training, reinforcing local capacities, and consideration of traditions including the use of materials associated with the Anishinaabe identity. In 2012, the project was awarded the Governor General’s Medal for Architecture in Canada. The network developed helps break the isolation, value traditional skills, allow members of the community to access the labour market and, most importantly, boost the pride of families in Kitcisakik.

30 homes renovation for Algonquin population
30 homes renovation for Algonquin population
home renovation in Ktcisakik village
home renovation in Ktcisakik village
home renovation in Ktcisakik village
home renovation in Ktcisakik village

Children play area in Ariha, Syria

Designed play areas for children at a refugee camp

At Ariha in Syrian Arab Republic
In 2016
By Architecture Sans Frontières Québec - Canada
Local partners: SARD association

From 2011 to 2016, the Syrian conflict led to 220,000 deaths and the displacement of 7.6 million individuals, ¾ of whom were women and children. Marya Zarif is an Aleppo native who co-founded the Let me Play Foundation to provide refugee children with the play areas needed for their development and to help them overcome their trauma. A joint creative team including Let me Play, ASFQ, a large team of volunteers, child psychologists, occupational therapists and specialists in play areas and environmental design came together in partnership with the local SARD association to design a functional and technical plan including all the information required to design a play area at the Ariha camp. A creative design workshop including 40 participants, was held in May 2016 to draw on the best ideas from a creative cart organized in Montreal to design the final plans. The project was then built in Ariha, providing a space for 146 children at the Ariha refugee camp to play. The objective is now to build more similar play areas at other Syrian camps.


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

Vulnerability and risk workshop

Seismically vulnerable region

At CHAMOLI in India
By Architecture Sans Frontières - UK
Local partners: SEEDS India and Gomti Prayag JanKalyan Parishae
Donors: Christian Aid and Self funding

In June 2008 the ‘Vulnerability and Risk Workshop’ series continued in India in Langasu Village, Chamoli District, Uttarakhand in partnership with the Indian NGO, SEEDS India and the local organisation, GPJKP. Chamoli district was at the epicentre of an earthquake in 1999 where almost 100 people lost their lives. This region is vulnerable in terms of seismic activities and there is a high probability of another earthquake in the near future.

ASF-UK engaged in a complex two-week programme of investigation, design, procurement, negotiation and construction of a small intermediate shelter behind the local school. This shelter would serve not only as a prototype for the local community, but also as a much needed additional temporary classroom for this school. The brief was ambitious and the context in which the scenario was based broadly introduced the majority of issues development practitioners have to engage with, when working in a post-disaster scenario.

The design for the shelter developed as information on the different technologies/materials/ vernacular was collected in the area. Research into humanitarian standards from secondary sources was fed into the rigorous design process. Locally available materials were procured and local masons hired within a budget of £625. With a very ambitious programme a careful redesign was necessary to remain within the budget and finish the building on time.

The post workshop evaluation process revealed the successes and challenges of the workshop. An interim shelter was designed, procured and built in just 10 days and the group witnessed the process evolve through sketching, building and thinking. The participants had to juggle the overlapping agendas of the intermediate shelter and its future use as a school classroom which added an interesting dynamic to the process. The reflections and evaluation process have been formalized through the production of a publication following the workshop. Another task that a separate team was engaged in was designing solutions for retrofitting the existing school for earthquake resistance and to develop a model school proposal. This has been progressed further since the workshop and ASF-UK are supporting SEEDS and GPJKP to develop a funding proposal. One year on and the interim shelter is in full use as an additional classroom for the school.

Category: Workshop & Disaster Reconstruction Medium / Technology / Material: Timber & Concrete blocks Typology: Housing
design process
community children
building construction


Appeal from local association of Rasgo

In 2004
By Arquitectos Sem Fronteiras - Portugal
Local partners: Associação Rasgo
Donors: Câmara Municipal do Vale da Cambra

Trebilhadouro stands as a typical example of the abandonment of the Portuguese rural landscape, where agriculture almost ceased to exist and only a few elderly, lonely and povertystricken remain, as the younger migrate or move towards the larger cities located along the country’s coast line.

In 2004, ASF Portugal was invited to participate in the International Festival of Trebilhadouro, promoted by local association of Rasgo, just as, in the press, offers were being made to “sell the whole settlement” to the best bidder. A field workshop was promoted in which an assessment of the present situation was made. Former inhabitants of Trebilhadouro were interviewed and guided the group through fi eld visits to the remains of the settlement. Landscape designers, sociologists, researchers, rural history experts and philosophers were called in (in a series of on-site conferences) and data concerning the architectural characteristics of the ensemble were gathered (measurements, condition assessments, photographic descriptions) to document and preserve the memory of Trebilhadouro.

Category: Workshop Typology: Rural development
local construction
participants meeting

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 with people

Research on autoconstruction as a tool for participatory processes

At MILANO in Italy
In 2008
By Architettura Senza Frontiere Italian Network
Local partners: Triennale di Milano, Politecnico di Milano and ESEM
Donors: ANCE Associazione NazionaleCostruttori Edili

On the occasion of the exhibition “Casa per Tutti” (“Housing for all”) curated by Fulvio Irace, the cultural institution Triennale di Milano and ASF-Italia, together with the Politecnico di Milano and ESEM (Ente Scuola Edile Milanese) promoted the workshop “Building with people. Low cost technologies for developing countries”. The objective was three-fold: to learn, apply and experiment a few technologies from different low-income contexts; to physically build a few housing units that are appropriate to some of the socio-cultural-environmental contexts where ASF-Italia operates; to experience and exchange ideas on different construction techniques that are appropriable by many and can make a powerful medium to facilitate processes of participation and auto-construction of one’s own living environment.

The main reference for the technologies that ASF-Italia tested is the research promoted by the workgroup Casapartes, Cyted (Ciencia y Tecnologia para el Desarrollo): since 1997 Casapartes has been disseminating appropriate and appropriable technologies for the social production of habitat in Latin America.

The workshop was organized into two phases: theoretical seminars, aimed to circumscribe and clarify the issue of housing in low-income areas; the practical activity of building, aimed to experiment and verify technologies and building processes.

All the practical activities were held at Triennale Bovisa and, with the support of video and internet connections, they were part of the exhibition “Casa per Tutti”.

Category: Workshop Medium / Technology / Material: Low cost technologies Typology: Architectural design- lectures & workshops
working participants
wall construction
wall plastering
final result

Building communities 3

Social minority communities, social status & living conditions

At OSAKA in Japan
In 2008
By Architecture Sans Frontières - UK
Local partners: CASE
Donors: GB Sasakawa Foundation, DaiwaAnglo Japanese Foundation and Self funding

In Easter 2008 the ‘Building Communities’ workshop series continued in the KitaShiba area of Osaka, Japan with local partner CASE Japan. Participants experienced a city where public housing has been formalized, and were given opportunities to understand the after-effects of slum eradication and an effective community upgrading programme. Working within one of Japan’s social minority communities (the Buraku), participants explored the housing solutions provided by the Minoh government and those solutions the community developed in order to cope with their change in social status and living conditions. This was achieved through a series of lectures and interactive exercises, which focused on four main issues affecting the social realm including public housing, public spaces, and homelessness in the land of housing and issues of social interactions. The participants developed an understanding of the Barakumin discrimination issue in Japan and an insight into the complexities of working as a professional with communities in long term development projects. Through the partnership with CASE they explored the methods and techniques a local architecture practice employs when working with communities, and prototyped a tool for community engagement that was shared and enhanced by the local community on the Community Spring Festival day (which coincided with the final day of the workshop).

The group had started the two weeks with expectations of engaging with the local community and exploring an unknown side of Japan. At the same time they were keen to find out what an architect can specifically do in this kind of project with his/her skills. The workshop enabled students to learn about the current social housing strategy in Japan and broaden their skills as architects to engage with a community and some of the complex issues it faces.

Category: Workshop
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