Across the two days of talks, discussions, and planning, we realised the importance of starting from a point of honest reflection. There has to be a starting point that begins with trust,that embodies both an ecological and political perspective and that encourages dialogue. We wanted to start with questioning the role of the architect and how new methods of working could be developed. Unlearning ( perhaps a mantra for some ) had been stressed, and to connect in a more grounded methodology. This, for us, has been a great opportunity to learn about a range of topics. From agro-ecology, to product making processes, to bamboo habitat to participation and projects that exemplify strong values rooted in a concern for people and the importance of creating spaces that respond appropriately.
From Dr Farhad Mazhar of UBINIG to Architect Nazmul Nayeem, co-owner of Peda Ting Ting, to Suraiya Chowdhury, Senior Designer at Prokritee we were able to get a grasp of the wide range of potential for participation and bamboo – as a material for design. We were fortunate to have an amazing knowledge sharing opportunity, and the scope for the discussions that followed the presentations were engaging. Laced with activities that has become a process for the way Paraa works; ample time for discussions and getting to know each other, the aim for these sessions was to encourage a more critical approach to working.
What has been crucial, from the past two days of learning, is understanding the different aspects of participation, and the potential role for the architect/designer. Suraiya Chowdhury, of Prokritee, spoke poignantly about her experiences of working with a remote village, where the women were in such dire conditions, and her struggles to engage with them, work with them to develop a product that could be sold internationally, and what, for her was the biggest achievement? that the children were going to school, and the women were getting regular orders. As a designer, as a creative, her investment has been in the human dimension.
Fuad Abdul Quaium, of Ghorami.JON, our co-hosts in this project, was able to provide insight into what bamboo grows where in Bangladesh, and the importance of forests to be left to grow. We will definitely be engaging much more critically with them over the coming weeks, and learning from their processes too of prioritising the environment. Tahmid, from our team, spoke about the various processes developed and executed within the Amrao Manush project (2014-2015) and the importance of methods that are participatory. Majeda Tumpa, of Kathpencil studio, also gave an interesting talk about her experiences on the variety of modes of participation – especially as she concluded her talk with why failure happens. Architect Nazmul Nayeem talked about his inspirations for the development of his venture – Peda Ting Ting, and the importance, for him, of engaging with nature, and attempting create – within Dhaka city, a place he can relate to in nature.
Finally, we were able to engage with the participants about the importance of participation, its politics, the need to be critical and aware of the challenges that are coming forward. So much was shared and learned and we are genuinely excited about the next stage! So, we hope you will attend the opening event that will be announced soon – to see what we have all been up to!