The Kolorob project is initiated by Save the Children, Bangladesh (SCI). As part of this project Paraa has been commissioned to design 4 centres in two low-income urban communities, Bauniabandh and Paris Road, in Mirpur, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
From Paraa’s experience, engagement with the community from the inception phase of the design process to explore preliminary selected sites allows for a sense of ownership of the project in the long term. For each community, two proposed sites have been selected for multipurpose information centres (kiosks).
The aim of these participatory workshops were to explore positive urban spaces located in these two communities and incorporate these findings into a series of collaborative design and implementation workshops for the centres. Along with this, the objectives were to find opportunities through consideration of the strengths and weaknesses of these communities and the allocated sites. Another objective was to understand how and to what extent the participants understood the idea of a multipurpose centre that has a diversified programmatic use across gender and age.
The findings from the design workshop highlight:
• The clients’/community’s usual activities in and out of the space
• A conceptual design layout for friendly design
• The clients’ idea for a multipurpose space
• A basic idea for the materials to be used
The First Workshop:
For the first workshop, participatory, qualitative mapping methods were used. These methods consisted of physical mapping surveys and site observations in groups facilitated by Paraa members focusing on positive spaces in the relevant communities.
Paraa initially focused on guiding the participants to develop an overview of the general context before surveying three currently negotiable sites.
Participatory inspection tools were used to map local favourite spaces and other resources.
Forty participants were distributed into four age groups. Each group had 10 members.
1. Teenage female
2. Teenage male
3. Adult female
4. Adult male
The workshop was designed to carry out in three participatory sessions. These sessions started with an introduction, presentation and briefing to the groups.
Session 01 Walk through the community
Objective Critical investigation for favourite urban spaces
Each group was led by a Paraa member, with support from one community volunteer. The focus of this session was to critically investigate the communities used as spaces and places to hang out. The investigation was carried out using a checklist to explore the spaces, especially factors with preference for social gatherings and activities.
Session 02 Site survey
Objective Plans of the proposed sites
Focused surveys of the proposed sites for Kolorob centres were carried out for detailed investigations and sections and elevations for architectural interventions.
Session 03 SWOT analysis
Objective Opportunities to explore considering both the strengths and weaknesses of the communities
Finally, the strengths and weaknesses there in the communities to set up functional gathering space were subjected to SWOT analysis. Findings from individual groups were put for combined discussion regardless of age groups to brainstorm the opportunities to work with.
Findings from urban investigations is summed up as an analysis of favourite spaces. . Issues of open spaces, utility services, privacy of women and many other disputes are discussed in third sessions as modified SWOT analysis.
The Second Workshop:
The second workshop for the Kolorob project focused on design participation to develop the spatial layout. This workshop focused entirely on the Bauniabandh centre.
Importance of Design Participation:
Design participation is very important for a space run by the community for the community. Through participation a lot of factors are achieved:
• Individual ideas are highlighted.
• Decisions based on team work; enhancing team spirit
• Ideas reflecting the communities dream and aspiration
• Develop sense of ownership and togetherness
• Develop community expertise
• Enhance confidence throughout the community
The groups were split into gender groups to identify the spaces males and females prioritise and use. The male group was tasked to focus on a space that incorporated mainly female use, and vice versa. This provided an interesting exposure for the team to explore issues of gender sensitivity, and the groups awareness of taking into consideration the others perspectives.
TOOLS FOR PARTICIPATION
TOOL 1: NATOK
Each group was asked to prepare three storyboards, and act out the activity in and out of the space and the activity they desire to do in the space.
TOOL 2: SPACE DESIGN (FOR EACH OTHER)
The storyboards were switched and each group designed a space for the other with the reference of the story boards.
TOOL 3: MULTI-PURPOSE USE OF THE SPACE
Multipurpose use of the space for educational, revenue and cultural consideration
TOOL 4: MATERIAL SELECTION
Available recycled and low cost materials around the site
TOOL 5: JURY PRESENTATION
A critical feedback session at the close of day included invited architects, the Paraa team, and the community to discuss the proposals developed by the two groups.
Each activity done had a few findings:
Activity one: Drama/ Natok
• Basic understanding of the activity in and out of the space
• Their desired activity within the space
• Basic ergonomics of the activity to be performed
Activity two: Design through discussion
• Understanding the zoning of the space
• The list of items required in the space
• Challenges to consider in the space
• Basic activity within the space
• Use of the space
Activity three: Multipurpose use/ materials
• Ideas to collect revenue
• Ideas to attract more people
• Ideas to use the space as an educational platform
• Ideas to use the space as a cultural platform
• A material bank within the site radius
These workshops helped the community members and us to understand the space, the possibilities and potentials as well as limitations.
The whole output reflects the preferences of different members of the community and also their insights. The goal was for us to understand the community and their space more and for the community to understand the potential of the project and scope of further involvement to ensure sustainability.
It is always a great experience working with the community. Their insights are powerful and their enthusiasm is inspiring.
[Photos: Nibir and Shawn]