We started the day by talking about the problems they identified from the sites and their initial work plans and thoughts for the centre from the previous day. It was crucial to understand how much they had engaged with the site and its community. The groups had come with different ideas to the table, and we provided feedback to them to help prepare their work plans. It is clear from todays output, that the students have engaged with the site, the philosophy and values of the Amrao Manush project as well as looking at the overall problems that an architect is given in terms of designing.
We invited two speakers, Soshanah Williams and Shahid Hussain Shamim to discuss two critical ideas – reflexive practice on the field from Soshanah, and the importance of knowledge production in the context of local seed production. Soshanah talked about her experiences thus far on her research of homeless women in Dhaka city. She talked about what she has dealt with, and how she has maintained a reflexive mode of practice whilst conducting her research, especially how to emotionally process stories from the women. This, we believe is a critical component when working in projects such as Amrao Manush – so we are instilling the process to be reflexive in the design development process. It is a challenge the students are embracing, and throughout the morning session, they had questioned their role, the design process development and the wider issues of perceptions.
Shahid Hussain Shamim gave a presentation that discussed the importance of local knowledge preservation with the example of seed sovereignty, looking at micro communities. This took place over a hot lunch of rotis, vegetables and fried eggs.
The groups then went to Sajida Foundation to make a presentation on their observations and work plans. The centre managers were present. Each group was given ten minutes to present and receive feedback. Some fascinating analysis and concepts were presented – some which looked at participation as part of their design process, others looked at design and consultation. Groups also proposed ideas that looked at the wider urban context.
Overall, talking to the students, engaging with their ideas, we are beginning to see approaches that are diverging as per the groups thinking along with the understanding of the site conditions. We ended the day with an agreement that the jury session will not be a competition as such, but rather a collaborative end product – as each group has chosen to focus on elements of the project as well as programmatic analysis, this phase of the design workshops has led to some quite energetic thoughts. The groups want to spend further time on site – and we have decided its better to provide them the time and space to do that, rather than to spend time focusing on the work in the studio. We look forward to their thoughts and ideas tomorrow, after their individual site visits.