The very first day of our Design Charrette went quite well. Most of the participants were on time. We had our introduction session at Sajida Foundation. Sajida foundation introduced their work process and policies with an interactive question answer session, explaining the Amrao Manush project as well as the IMPACT project that they run. One of the crucial part for the students is to engage with this fully.
After that, Ruhul Introduced the Paraa team along with a presentation of the work process of Paraa. He explained our research process and how we develop ideas focusing on the community. Tahmid also explained the design process we have been working on for the Tangail Craft Centre project. After that, I did a presentation on the importance of storytelling with the use of different mediums while interacting with communities and screened our LEEDO Shorts film made by the children. Then Hasibul Kabir Sir presented works he has been doing with BRAC University and others. He explained how architecture has been used as a tool for development, for the people and also by the people. He emphasised on credibility of people and building trusts, sharing the knowledge with the people rather than enforcing an alien idea on them. Ruhul concluded the introductory session with an explanation of the whole Design Charrette; both our expectations and rules. He emphasised our interest on the process of design communication and the involvement with the community.
Students came back to Paraa studio, checked out the ongoing Cycle Of Care exhibition, and had lunch. We assigned different sites to different groups randomly by lottery. There were 10 groups from 8 different universities. There are four sites in Dhaka: Mouchak, Babubazar, Kawranbazar, and Greenroad.
Managers from the Pavement Dweller Centre came and took the Groups to the sites. One member from Paraa also accompanied them on every site. Kabir Sir himself also went to the Kawranbazar site.
We encouraged them to be more interactive, and also to shift their thinking process according to different perspectives. It is crucial to understand the pavement dwellers before going to renovate a shelter for them.
Tomorrow, we will sit with their work plan, hear their ideas, respond to their queries and provide critical feedback. I am very much looking forward to the next day, to discover new possibilities from the students.
THOUGHTS FROM TAHMID:
The hartal interrupted day ended with the site visit. The site was reached travelling by rickshaw. Three groups visited the Mouchak site. The site visit was structured into three parts: observation, communication and interaction. It started of from a brief by the project manager about programs and problems related to this site. After that the students scattered into groups and started communicating with the beneficiaries. After spending some time with the clients they moved on to study and observe the entire site while discussing with their ideas with the beneficiaries. Then the students moved around the community to get a greater picture of the project. The day ended with a brief discussion about their first day experience.
THOUGHTS FROM RAYED
We traveled to the site via Rickshaw – this took one hour. Project manager briefed the groups. Then they walked around the site observed. They asked questions to the staff of the centre – (teachers / managers) as well as collecting a monthly report of the centre. Finally they spoke with the beneficiaries, taking photographs and making notes. The group then visited the LEEDO SETU centre, and explored the building, observing what kind of activities take place.
After leaving the site, they walked towards Ahsan Manzil – speaking to some beneficiaries, and observed the local surroundings. They then walked around the Babubazar area, speaking to different groups of people and exploring the materials of the site.
THOUGHTS FROM RUHUL:
It is always nerve wrecking to stand in front of people and present, especially when you know they are looking to learn and engage with the material you are providing them. I hope that the workshops are engaging and challenging for the students and they are able to take away lessons that are practical. It is a challenge we have set for the students, to look at both engagement and design processes as well as keep in mind that it needs to be a low cost solution. Tomorrow, we look forward to work plans and critical feedback on their observations thus far and we have invited a friend working with homeless women to present her research and reflections in practice.
Some snaps of day one: