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Recap on The art of architecture in making community, words @bldg 50, 6 August 2009

The presentation at last Thursday's words @bldg50 was on Professor Silvia Acosta's work with students from the Rhode Island School of Design, in the context of using architecture as a tool for social and communal engagement. She presented examples on how a collaborative design model could be used to promote similar actions.

Sivlia presented her projects in Mexico, the US, Japan and Costa Rica. In all projects she worked with her students and the locals.  All projects involved a very tight time frame, in which an initial period of observation, and input from local acquaintances familiar with the area, was followed by an intense design process and hands on construction.  Silvia recounted the setbacks she faced during the many construction phases, such as torrential rain in Costa Rica which put her team's work on hold for several days!  It was evident that time and geographic constraints prevented the undertaking of an extensive community consultation process in some cases.  Nonetheless, engagement with each local community inevitably occurred in each project - through the use of local materials and vernacular construction techniques and the ultimate realisation of a piece of architecture that was a distinctive, functional response to its place, to be used and enjoyed by the local people.  A housing project in Mexico, in an impoverished area on the outskirts of the town San Miguel de Allendewas initially met with skepticism from the locals, however the sentiment gradually diminished and not long after, the local community showed their support by taking part in the construction process.  27 similar houses have since been built by the community in the region.

At the moment, Prof. Acosta is a visiting academic in the Department of Architecture, Faculty of Art + Design, at Monash University. She will be conducting a similar program with her students in Kinglake, as part of the temporary village for bushfire affected communities. We wish her team well with their project and hope to get out on site to see what they're up to in the next few weeks.

If you missed this presentation, Architects for Peace is currently editing the presentation video of the night, which will be ready soon. And if you haven't yet, join our facebook pages where we will post our activities and work!

See you in September!


Beatriz Maturana said...

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