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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

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

New hosting model for migrants and refugees center

UN Millenium Development Goals

At ROME in Italy
From 2003 to 2005
By Architettura Senza Frontiere Italian Network
Donors: Cesarch and Self funding

The project aims at formulating guidelines for future sustainable projects of “Second Hosting Centre” for refugees asking for asylum, in order to contribute to the improvement of the Hosting System in Italy. This system turned out to be inadequate and privileges the assistance character and not the participative character, typical of the existing hosting centre management. ASF Onlus worked out the typological and composition scheme of a New Model of Second Hosting Centre, that would be suitable to be used by local Administrations to apply it to the recovering processes of buildings or for new ones, to create a built-up and functional space, taking into account the communities’ interculturality in order to stimulate integration in the neighbourhoods and in the city.

The project has been developed in a participatory way together with groups asking for asylum and occupying two dismissed buildings near the future “Nuova Stazione Tiburtina dell’Alta Velocità” in Rome.

migrants and refugees center

Hosting city Porto: Call for Ideas

UN Millenium Development Goals

At PORTO in Portugal
In 2007
By Arquitectos Sem Fronteiras - Portugal
Local partners: M.I.R.A.
Donors: Self funding

Migration: Our ideology stands for a new mentality, presented in our Manifesto.

Interface: A platform that supports and connects different individuals, projects, organizations, ideas… building bridges between them.

Reflection: The process of individual awareness starts by creating individual consciousness.

Activism: Being active with effective answers to different problems and situations, denouncing, reclaming and redefining.

Our objective with this initiative was to promote a reflection on the city, its physical and social territory concerning the problems of social exclusion, specially associated with migration issues. Therefore, this competition of ideas has as object of study/intervention our own city, Oporto, represented by four places:

1- Rotunda da Areosa

2- Urban void near Casa da Música

3- Blocks behind S. Bento Train Station

4- Viela do Anjo

By choosing these places we searched for identification in our urban territory of different case studies associating public space reflection, citizenship, social exclusion and migrants’ settlements. Our aim was to encourage participants to propose ideas and concepts for an intervention on the suggested places bearing in mind a critical reflection on the issues mentioned above. The proposal must have also seek raising awareness and reclaiming social integration, in order to develop a more democratic territory and a more active role of each individual in the community.

oporto street
oporto street

Earth construction and community project

Land-rights recognition

In 2009
By Architectes Sans Frontières - France
Local partners: Terre Construite
Donors: Self funding

The association Terre Construite/Tierra Construida bases its approach on earth construction techniques, as a political answer to the issues of construction economy. Its involvment inside the Amaicha del Valle community strengthened this position, facilitating the community to build its economic and social autonomy. Natives communities have been recognized since the new Argentinian Constitution in 1994. At Amaicha del Valle, only 52.812 of the 132.000 ha of claimed lands were given back through a cadastral sketch in 2002. The administrative process for the legal restitution of the land is not over yet. Thus the struggle continues for the recognition of the whole territory against big land-owners and the constitutional context.

TC, in partnership with ASF-France, was actively involved in this work by drawing a precise map of the territorial limits, with the help of the “Cedula Real”, a 1716 text in which the king of Spain did recognize the existence of the community. The project manager of ASF, in a frame of action by TC, works closely with the cacique (chief of the community) on several projects:

- Establishment of a urban code

- Recovery of a plot, in order to refurbish it into a community development center (hosteria)

- Building of workshops for a school for the disabled (escuela San Roque)

- Technical support for a bridge construction (la Fronterita)

- Refurbishment of a building for tourism purposes, in order to develop the economic autonomy of the community (Pulperia)

- Survey of Quilmes’ ruins site, to improve the rainwater system which is currently damaging the archeological heritage.

In addition, the “Tierra Construida association house” allows architecture students to get earth construction training with amaicheños (Amaicha inhabitants), who still build with this material.

participatory design
Earth construction
final construction

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

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

Avieira’s culture legacy

Safeguard of cultural heritage

At TAGUS RIVER in Portugal
In 2008
By Arquitectos Sem Fronteiras - Portugal
Local partners: AIDIA
Donors: Self funding

The condition and geographical universe of these fishermen populations are unique in Europe and unrecognized since is unknown to the major public. This culture is still alive and embedded in its particular traditions and beliefs; however there is an imminent risk of losing their identity due to various factors and threats.

The present survey is part of an overall project to promote Avieira Culture as a national heritage.

The scope of our work has focused on the material legacy, recognizing the evidence of its intrinsic value, but also revealing the particular characteristics of a sustainable development process, in which we consider preserving the environment, ecological systems and biodiversity, opportunity to disseminate and implement socio-cultural aspects and the creation of economic factors that will contribute to the well-being of the community. We will address the significance of the housing typology in the lives of Avieiros’ people: from the boat to pile dwellings and piers and from the houses to different settlements, putting them in context historically and socially.

We will bring into play the analysis of field data that extensively documented the situation and examined different strategies for the safeguard of its cultural heritage in the perspective of integrated and sustainable development. The analysis will focus on the boat as the realm of their first dwelling and the pile houses as imported models of dwelling which were inevitably modified by the urgencies of their evolving livelihood. The survey of the housing and interviews will be a key task to understand the phenomena therefore ASFP will create a database of relevant information on this specific vernacular architecture. Retrieval and dissemination of the Avieira’s Culture will inevitably have to start by rebuilding housing heritage and adapting it, for example, to face a certain cultural and touristic influx. Avieiros’ people and its descendants will always be in the centre of decisions and actions that may affect their future and possibly their patterns of cultural activity. We hope to develop the necessary information in order to support the future recovery of boat and pile dwellings and settlements, as well as, to promote the Avieira’s Culture as a critical and exceptional element for research in anthropological studies.

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