Pilgrimage Of Everyday Life
Chia-Wei Chang Mu-Hwai Liou Tzu-Jung Huang Advisor:
Chapter 0-1 Introduction Chapter 1-1 The origin of a community and evolution of community centres Chapter 2-1 The origin of conventional pilgrimages Chapter 2-2 Communitas, Liminality and Pilgrimage Chapter 2-3 Beneficial effects of going on a pilgrimage Chapter 2-4 Evolution of pilgrimages Chapter 2-5 Distinctive components of pilgrimage and community centre Chapter 3-1 Context Chapter 3-2 Problematics Chapter 3-3 Nepalese community centre? Chapter 4-1 Viable solution Chapter 4-2 The pilgrimage of everyday life? Chapter 5-1 Design proposal Chapter 6-1 Reference
02-02 03-03 04-04 04-05 05-07 07-10 10-14 15-18 19-21 21-22 23-26 26-27 27-46 47-49
0-1 Introduction Since the massive earthquake struck Nepal in 2015, the nation has received a lot of aids and help from around the world. However, there are still some devastated regions still facing a series of social, economic and environmental problems. Thus, this book aims at proposing a proper community centre by investigating into Nepalese context. The following chapters will examine the formation of community centres during different periods of time and how they have functioned and evolved in the society. In the early centuries, community centres were the places for getting daily necessities, performing agricultural actitivies and socialising etc. However, the evolution of community centres has resulted in some ramifications like social divisions that make the community centres ‘malfunction’. Thus, this proposal aims to offer a solution to this problem by addressing the urgent issues in the Nepalese society, as well as providing a paradigm of a Nepalese community centre. ‘Pilgrimage Of Everyday Life’ is inspired by the correlations between community centres and sacred centres during pilgrimages. It explores the distinct components of both by looking into several sacred centres in the world such as Wailing Wall. We assume that the sacred centres are another form of community centres, thus by looking at them, we aim to tackle the aforementioned problems. If the assumption is true, can we create a new typology of community centre on the chosen site? ‘Pilgrimage Of Everyday Life’ is a provocation, raising people’s awareness of social and environmental issues. The proposal utilises the fog catcher technique to deal with the water-related issues on the site, as the chosen site does not have conventional alternatives to collect water efficiently. By proposing it as a starting point of re-construction of the devastated area, it will further facilitate the social, educational, economic development as well. The proposed community centre in this book is not a fantasy to build; the authors have taken into account the practical factors of building a real replica of the community centre presented in the following figures. Thus, this book can be described as a theoretical research and practical applications of community centres.
1-1 The origin of a community and evolution of community centres Settlements typically began with people clustered around a well, and the size of that settlement was roughly the distance you could walk with a pot of water on your head. In fact, if you fly over Germany, for example, and you look down and you see these hundreds of little villages, they're all about a mile apart. You needed impromptu easy access to the fields. And for hundreds, even thousands of years, the home was really the center of life. Life was very small for most people. It was a center of entertainment, of energy production, of work, center of health care. That's where babies were born and people died. -Kent Larson, ‘Brilliant designs to fit more people in every city’,2012 TED Talk
The origin of community could date back to the 14th century or earlier. A group of people gathered in the same locality, taking part in different types of activities. The group of people also called themselves “the common people”. After that, A Latin word ‘communitas’ was created to describe an unstructured community in which people are equal, or for more abstract meanings such as fellowship, common and so forth. This word will be further elaborated in the following chapters with regard to the key components of a pilgrimage. According to Larson’s observation via using modern technology to measure the diameter of each local community in the past, the formation and boundary of a community centre or neighborhood, in the early centuries, was determined by the distance between homes and the source of life-water. Additionally, ‘The centre played a vital role in every aspect of life, including being a recreation center and a spiritual place. It also created a sense of belonging and boosted social cohesion. However, community centres have been transformed into a “structured community centres”. In other words, the areas accommodate people from different stratums of society, due to the unrelenting developments of capitalism, monetary systems and modernisation in the 18th and 19th century. This phenomenon has resulted in a more exclusive and unequal place for locals as people find themselves less common with other people except those who live in the adjacent regions. For instance, the wealthier gathered which might inadvertently build an invincible and invisible fortress, deterring the poorer groups from participating in the same activities because of the poor people’s low self-esteem or lack of money. Thus, a community center which served only the rich would be detrimental to a society’
2-1 The origin of conventional pilgrimages Inspired by the word “communitas”, which was mentioned in the previous chapter, we are drawn to transform the flawed and broken contemporary community centres into new ones that are socially inclusive and healthier to a society. Thus, we started investigating the correlation between communitas and community centres. The most intriguing disclosure is that ‘communitas’ was most frequently used for defining de-structured state in cultural anthropology field in the 1970s. Furthermore, the word and another word ‘liminality’ commonly go together to describe pilgrims’ experience about going on pilgrimages or rites in tribal societies in some areas such as Kanigesha in Africa. These two spiritual events both have essential elements we are looking for to create an ideal prototype of community centre in Nepal such as anti-structure, absence of status and rank, no distinctions of wealth. The prototype, which is reminiscent of the formation of early settlements around a well, will bring substantial benefits to Nepalese society.
2-2 Communitas, Liminality and Pilgrimage Before discussing about the correlations we have found in community centre, communitas and pilgrimage are explicitly articulated, it might be useful to examine how these terms are used in anthropology. These two Latin words were frequently seen in cultural anthropology and social science. Victor Turner(1920-1983), one of the most influential scholars in the 1970s in the cultural anthropology field, redefined the words and used them to describe pilgrims’ experience during a pilgrimage. The first one, communitas, is a word for social relationship like social bonds, brother or sisterhood, comradeship etc.The other one,‘liminality,’is used for social hierarchies which may be reversed or temporarily dissolved during liminal periods such as rites or pilgrimages. During the pilgrimage, every pilgrim more or less can experience these two specific qualities, as Turner states that every ritual process consists of three phases: separation, liminality and re-aggregation (Turner, 1980). Embarking on an ecclesiastical pilgrimage, for example, pilgrims start the journey from their relatively familiar places such as homes to a far-off sacred centre. They then might encounter or meet up with other pilgrims that develop a sense of fellowship or brotherhood, in other
words, communitas. Additionally, they also experience liminality simultaneously as they might be in the face of some obstacles before arriving at the sacred centre. In the following process, they confront and worship sacred objects together. At this exact point, a sense of liminality is significantly amplified because everyone there is equal before God..
2-3 Beneficial effects of going on a pilgrimage After briefly articulating the meaning of communitas and liminality, we would like to examine the benefits of embarking on a pilgrimage. The purposes of going on a pilgrimage vary, depending on persons. Some might be in the search of salvation, truth or essence of life, and some might seek physical, psychological or spiritual cure. Therefore, every pilgrim definitely has different purposes and expectations. After arriving at the sacred centre, their emotional, spiritual or psychological state must be changed to some extent. They might be absolutely ecstatic when they see a series of sacred objects or visually and spiritually stunning landscape. They might be remedied by the ephemeral surroundings and the like-minded people. But, they might feel physically exhausted and not so inspired. The most quintessential example describing the transitional state of pilgrims and the benefits of pilgrimage is the model proposed by Turner in the 1970s. The model is presented as a diagram(see the diagram on pp 06). He states that every pilgrimage journey comprises of ‘ApproachRoad’, ‘ReturnRoad, ‘Station In Life’ and ‘Sacred Centre’. Furthermore, embarking on a pilgrimage is a spontaneous and voluntary choice rather than a mandatory activity. Pilgrims then travel with excitement about the adventure, sadness of separation and so forth, from a familiar place such as homes toward an unfamiliar place (sacred centre). At next stage, they must experience psychological transitions due to hazards and setbacks they have to overcome on the Approach road. After that, when they arrive at the Sacred Centre, they are temporarily released from the burden of stress, anxiety and guilt in their mundane everyday life. After immersing themselves in the extremely spiritual atmosphere, worshiping the good and God, and embracing the magnificent feeling of conquering all the difficulties on the Approach Road, they start going back to the familiar place they are used to on the Return Road. The most important point is
TRANSFORMATION JOURNEY Approach Road Old man Psychological transitions hazards setbacks
Spontaneous and voluntary choice
sadness of separation excitement about adventures
Triumphs Temporary release from
The burdens of stress The burdens of anxiety The burdens of guilt Homogenisation of status
CONTEMPLATION in Everyday Life & Beliefs and Values
Psychological transitions fulfilment completion
Return Road Communitas Communitas is not the specific quality of a pilgrimage. The nature of the social bond in pilgrimage situations is characterized by Turner as communitas. It is a Latin word for social relationship, fellowship and social bond which he defines as a spontaneously generated relationship between levelled and equal total and individual human beings, stripped of structural attributes. Communitas constitutes a sort of anti-structure. It is the fons et origo of all social structures and, at the same time, their critique. It represents striving towards universalism and openness.----------------------(Turner 1974: 202).
Pilgrimage presented as an ellipse.
experience of human brother- and sisterhood
that they get back with a sense of completion and communitas. To be more precise, the benefits of the journey might be religiously, socially or personally significant to pilgrims. For instance, some might feel the distance between them and God is shortened, and their souls are more purified. Some might meet like-minded people and develop a life-long friendship with them. And, some might get rid of stress and feel like a reborn person after overcoming obstacles during the journey. As René Gothóni (2014) re- interprets the process of the journey, we can describe it as a ‘transformative journey’.
2-4 Evolution of pilgrimages Pilgrimage can be undertaken anywhere, any day, says Donna Mulhearn. It encompasses overseas travel and trekking long distances, but it can also mean heading to the nearest bushwalk, public Labyrinth, and – she suggests – it can be done without leaving your lounge-room chair. -Donna Mulhearn, ‘Pilgrimage in everyday life’, 2017
Meaning of words or matters change or evolve through time. In the past decades, the word ‘pilgrimage’was commonly associated with religion, especially in Christianity. The word may have taken on new meanings throughout history, yet it still has connotations referring to a sacred center. This chapter will elaborate on the notion of contemporary pilgrimage, as well as applying Turner’s theoretical approach to contemporary pilgrimage. In the past two decades, there has been an increasing number of studies on one particular artistic event held every year since the late 1980s which is called Burning Man. Many scholars from different fields started investigating this festival thanks to the transformation it has brought in many aspects. This chapter will examine the correlations between ’Burning Man’, the rite performed during ‘Burning Man’ and the journey to the Black Rock Desert.’ Larry Harvey, a man who created a pilgrimage accidentally in 1986 by building a wooden effigy and burning it with a bunch of friends. The burning effigy was set on Bakers Beach, San Francisco. When the piece of artwork was ignited, many spectators were drawn in and started dancing, drumming and raving. In the following years, he decided to burn new ones. Also, both the crowd and the effigy grew substantially
in size. In 1990, roughly 800 participated in the construction of the effigy. However, the combustion of the forty-foot effigy was halted by the police. It also implied that the small beach was not capable of accommodating the rapidly increasing number of “Burners”, which they called themselves. Thus, they were forced to seek another ideal spot to continue holding this spectacular event. The new spot which is located approximately a hundred miles northeast of Reno, Nevada, is named the Black Rock Desert. The desert is an intensely arid environment which poses a constant threat to the burners because they get dehydrated more easily. Despite its harsh environment, it does not deter the burners from celebrating the annual festival, and over 50,000 people attended it by 2010. People, who are enthusiastic about arts or the festival, travel from around the world. Burners are creative and innovative, they decorate or even create their vehicles to go to Black Rock Desert and dress eccentric but aesthetic outfits. Jessica McCaffrey, who was used to being one of the Burners, researched on this phenomenon and wrote her dissertation “Transforming Community through Countercultural Process” (2012). She participated in the festive activities several times and interviewed with a dozen of Burners, as well as soaking up the quirky yet intriguing atmosphere. According to McCaffrey, Burners are supposed to follow ten principles enacted by the organisation. In addition, they experience two aforementioned qualities in pilgrimage, liminality and communitas, as Burners have to endure the extremely hot weather in desert and travel from station (home) to the scared centre. The tangible separation from their mundane everyday life, the ritual process (The Burn) and the journey back to the station can be seen as three phases in Turner’s theory: separation, liminality and re-aggregation. It might be easier to understand why many experts describe going to Black Rock Desert as a contemporary pilgrimage by interviewing with the Burners. According to the six collaborators who shared their experience related to The Burning Man, the event gave them a strong sense of comradeship, being and togetherness and community while providing a wonderland of self-expression, temporary indulgence as well as release from ordinary daily life. Also, their narratives and the event underlie the notion of novel typology of pilgrimage. Over the past thirty years, Harvey accidentally facilitated a socially countercultural anarchic movement and gradually shaped the prototype of the first contemporary pilgrimage or a “transitional community”. The ephemeral surroundings augments a sense of solidarity and builds cooperation.
'Embrace', Burning Man, 2014.
The Burners are extremely encouraged to be themselves yet motivated to construct pieces of artwork, as long as they do not violate the legislation and the ten principles . As McCaffrey (2012) mentions: the powerful experience of comminitas at Burning Man is a deeply emotional one, leaving emotional imprints which become a lasting part of lifeworld and the building blocks of collective and community. This might be the reason why the Burners keep going back to the Black Rock Desert as the seeds of collective identity are ingrained and grow in many of the Burners’ deep heart. Another point we’d like to make is that the week-long event acts as a social movement which inverts the moral practices of everyday life. This can also be considered as an escape or excuse for “relatively inhibited” creative people to gather, learn mutually and celebrate due to the mundane and structured everyday life, which can be dry, monotonous and even choking. Going back to the benefits of embarking on the pilgrimage, Burning Man contributes to personal, social and cultural transformation. As some Burners described, the event that is sort of neo-tribe, has helped them to find life-long & like-minded people, made them contemplate the essence of life and boosted their imagination& creativity. Though if we view the festival through critical lens, there are still some ritual processes which are not applicable in Turner’s theoretical approach, such as the simple attires. The Burning Man can still be defined as a pilgrimage or transitional community as the lager group of Burners have faith in this festive activity and believe in the advantages or cures it has already brought to them. Raves and music festivals might be catalyst of community cohesion. However, the most important part should be the journey and the ritual processes like co-working in the construction of The Man which cement the social bonds between the Burners and even can be profoundly life-changing experience. To be more concise, participation in the Burning Man is a transformative journey to the vast majority of Burners.
2-5 Distinctive components of pilgrimage and community centre By re-defining the concept of a pilgrimage in the previous chapter, this chapter will investigate the characteristics related to pilgrimage and community centre. Also, we would like to explore the common components pilgrimages have. To begin, Burning Man perfectly exemplifies the notion of contemporary pilgrimage which does not have any religious activities during the journey. It still draws increas-
ing number of Burners or ‘pilgrims’ toward the Black Rock Desert to take part in the Burning rite and celebrate the festivals. Additionally, the sacred centre can be artificially created and shaped. It can also be permanent or ephemeral just as The Burning Man is a week-long event, and a ‘transitional community’. Nevertheless, we can still find three common crucial components in contemporary pilgrimages and conventional ones. First and foremost, ‘a transformative journey’ is one of three key components we have been looking into. Like pilgrims in the conventional sacred center and the Black Rock Desert have found, embarking upon a pilgrimage might be life-changing and invaluable experience because they feel temporarily released and spiritually cured when they worship God . In the Burning Man, the Burners’ sense of being is fostered as they are allowed to be themselves during the limited period of time. Furthermore, through participation in the construction of The Man, it gives the Burners sense of community and provides an ideal platform for them to network and hunt for the like-minded. To clarify, this event results in socially transformative impacts on the vast majority of the Burners. For instance, the Burners share their extraordinary experience with their friends and attract more and more people to take part in this annual festive activity. The second essential component is ‘sacred object’ . Wailing Wall or Western Wall, for example, which is known as AI-Buraq Wall in Arabic, is a majestically rectangular structure made of three types of Jerusalem stone. The wall has been well known for its historic and religious significance since 20B.C.E- one of the holiest edifices in the world, still standing on the Temple Mount today. When pilgrims touch the wall, they might feel connected to God. Some might even get emotional and cry. The power has been influencing millions of pilgrims from around the world. Similarly, The Man or the wooden effigy created by the Burners also has the mysterious power. When the effigy is combusted, the Burners get ecstatic and then start raving, binge-drinking and celebrating the event around the effigy. The ephemeral atmosphere shortens the sensual, psychological and social proximity between the creative individuals. In this context, the supreme matter the Burners believe or have faith in is probably the strong sense of creativity and imagination instead of God. In both cases, we can see that the Wailing Wall and The Man function as spiritual catalysts, making pilgrims more connected to what they believe in. Therefore, we re-define the catalysts as the ‘sacred object’. The third and the last components we would like to mention is a plaza for aggregation. Take Hajj for instance, which is the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca,
Wailing Wall (the Western Wall).
pilgrims have to perform ‘Tawaf’ in order to complete their religious missions. Tawaf is the most vital part of the pilgrimage. The pilgrims circle from the sacred centre (The Kaaba Black Stone) seven times to finish the task. This act has also been seen as a mandatory duty for Muslims and has to be carried out at least once in their life time. In addition, the place they take part in Al-Masjid al-Haram, is capable of accommodating approximately 500,000 people. Moreover, the Plaza at Al-Masjid al-Haram is always packed with the pilgrims and transformed into a magnificent landscape with dedicated pilgrims circling The Kaaba Black Stone during the pilgrimage. In another case, the Burners set up their innovative tents around the effigy, radiating from it toward the entry gate. The spontaneous tents’ setting still follow certain orders, forming a semi-circular and grand artificial landscape in the arid desert. By briefly elaborating the spatial arrangements or sort of ‘religious landscape’, we are able to assert that there must be a plaza for aggregation around or in front of the sacred object during the pilgrimage. After articulating three essential components found in contemporary and conventional pilgrimages, we are going to look into the substantial link between pilgrimage and going to a community centre. Then, does going to a community center possess the aforementioned three components? Can it be seen as a sort of pilgrimage in some way? Will it have the influential power facilitating social movement or remediating peoples’ physical and psychological issues? Will it even form a ‘permanent community’ rather than ‘transitional community’ for worshipping, gathering that might contribute to local prosperity? In the following chapters, we will dig into the three components existing in Nepalese society to respond to these questions.
Facing page top: Pilgrims performing ‘Tawaf’ at the Al-Masjid al-Haram on Hajj in 2008.
Facing page bottom: The semi-circular and grand artificial landscape in Black Rock desert, 2016. 14
3-1 Context This chapter will focus on exploring Nepal’s religious, environmental and cultural complex, as well as diagnosing the problems in this region. Through doing so, we will be more abled to propose an architectural intervention to tackle the problems in minimally invasive way. Nepal, the nearest country to the sky, is endowed with supremely spiritual power which draws over 700,000 tourists or pilgrims per year according to NEPAL TOURISM STATISTIC 2016. Furthermore, it has got several pilgrimage sites which make this country religiously significant. The religious instruments and infrastructures are ubiquitous such as prayer flags hung from the top of the buildings to the ground. The Nepal Sutras are written on the translucent cloth banners, which are used for wishing trekkers and people all the best. The flags also symbolise the promotion of peace, compassion, strength and wisdom. Another emblematic instrument in Nepal is the prayer wheel . When you take a stroll on the street in Kathmandu, you can always hear the sound emanated from rows of prayer wheels. The wheels are cylindrical bells made from metal, wood, and leather etc. The wheels are spun by the locals and pilgrims clockwise because the direction that mantras written on the wheels accord to the movement of the sun across the sky, which has its symbolic significance. It’s also a spiritually meaningful act when people spin the wheel three times. Once they have done it, their souls get purified, and it’s also believed that this ‘purification process’ also happens to a mosquito if it hovers on the wheel. These two religious infrastructures are just two of many you can easily spot in Kathmandu. Apart from the religious landscape we just mentioned, according to religion census in 2011, Nepal is a religiously diverse, multi-cultural & multi-ethnic nation. In that year, Nepal’s population was roughly 26 million people. 81.3 per cent of the population was Hindu and approximately 9.0 per cent was Buddhist. In terms of the ethnic groups, the most striking feature is that there were more than 125 castes/ethnic groups in 2011. Chhetri contributed to 16.60 per cent of the population. Hill Brahman/Bahun was the second largest ethnic group, accounting for 12.18 per cent. Despite the diversity of religious and ethnic groups, people still celebrate most festivals together harmoniously in this nation- ‘a land of festivals’ Situated between China and India, Nepal is all along Himalayas, which is the highest mountain in the world. This mountainous terrain offers a wide range of stunning landscape, attracting thousands of trekkers every year. According to what trekkers
The prayer wheels spun by the locals in Nepal.
Stunning landscape in Pharping, Nepal.
described, Nepal is a heavenly wonderland that they enjoy exploring and soaking up the atmosphere. Thanks to its topography, a huge variety of unique fauna and flora can be seen in Nepal. Some of them are livestock such as chicken and goat. Some of them have special bonds with Nepalese people. Yak, for instance, a hairy mammal, which helps the people carry heavy commodities in the mountains. However, located in the central of Himalaya range, Nepal is also one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world. This has posed a constant threat to infrastructures and disrupted economic development. Also, earthquakes have resulted in mass casualty and the loss of properties. In 2015, the earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.8Mw, killed around 9000 people, as well as triggering landslides and avalanches. Some of the cultural legacy and buildings could not withstand the strong earthquake and then collapsed, which contributed to death and injuries. The destructive impacts brought by the earthquakes have made people afraid of buildings. Thus, buildings made of concrete or mud bricks might be seen as ‘means of fear’, as some people were reluctant to live in the buildings and lived in the tents temporarily instead. The shocking scenes during and after the earthquakes also have influenced people psychologically, leaving permanent scars in their hearts. In terms of topologies of buildings in Nepal, we can see a huge variety of them, depending on where the buildings are. For example, in Kathmandu, the typologies have been greatly influenced by the Hindu and Buddhist practices. Moreover, Kathmandu is also described as “land of the largest congregations of magnificent historical monuments and shrines ever built” "(Katmandu as a world Heritage Site". Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Government of Nepal. Retrieved 2009-12-12. ) Some of the monuments were built in Pagoda style, with cubic construction, intricately carved wooden rafters, and roods made of copper shining in gold. When it comes to the residential blocks, a high degree of heterogenisation of the buildings can be noticed in the capital city. Due to the unaffordable prices of materials for construction, some villagers might utilise scavenged materials such as flat tires, steel to build relatively shabby homes. People with higher income tend to live in the buildings made of concrete or mud bricks. The extreme phenomenon also implies the social hierarchy and wealth gap existing in Nepalese society. Then we started looking into other architectural languages. For example, informal infrastructures and tectonic components, are commonly considered as informal settlements which manifest a region’s characteristic and needs the most, for instance, its economic, social, environmental and cultural complexes. Then we can easily find
Nepal's heartbreaking earthquake devastation in 2015.
Kathmandu buildings’ façade adorned with colourful textile, golden statues, and prayer breads etc. Again, it reveals the enrichment of religious elements in this nation. Furthermore, some of the squares are covered by a lot of potteries and ‘Dokos’ which are the peoples’ daily essentials. Potteries are used for different purposes as water containers or for religious practices. ‘Doko’, an everyday outfit for many of Nepalese, is a bamboo interwoven basket with a leather strip which is used for carrying firewood, vegetables and so on. A grown-up woman in Nepal rural areas is capable of carrying over 40 kilograms by using the Doko. When it comes to the production of Dokos, a local craftsman can make a Doko within ten minutes, which is faster than using robotic arms.
3-2 Problematics After briefly introducing Nepal’s religion, environment and culture, this chapter will investigate some problems on the site, trying to propose a plausible solution to them. The chosen site is situated at the one of the end of Pharping valleys, where is around two-hour drive from Kathmandu. Also, it is surrounded by grassy rice paddies, forests and several scattered residential buildings. The location provides an ideal place for people to look over the fabulous landscape beneath. However, the topography and geography also contribute to several problems such as lack of infrastructures as it is demanding to build and repair them there. The hilly terrain and uneven roads are some of the factors. This also results in many ramifications like the destructive impacts on health, education, water supply and local economy…etc. Most importantly, this region is also a water-stressed area. Many villagers are unable to access to clean water resources because of the aforementioned factors. Fetching water from a fountain for just one pot can take a woman two to four hours per day which leave less time for other daily activities such as growing crops, attending school and taking care of children. (The l DIPLOMAT, 2015) Furthermore, the water-related issues are exacerbated by the growing population as the storage of water does not meet the villagers’ demand. Moreover, water, plays an absolutely vital role in everyday life and religion. For instance, Hindus in Nepal celebrates some festivities in the rivers or lakes and pays tributes in them. Even though Hindus have known the rivers are contaminated by the
industrial waste and waters have got repulsive smell, they still immerse themselves in the polluted rivers during the festival. Sah, one of Hindus said: water "must" be included in the festival's various rituals because believers must "see the sun's reflection in the water" when she took part in the ritual processes. However, the exposure to the contaminated water has posed a severe threat to their health and might result in the epidemic of skin diseases such as scabies. This also implies how sacred and important water is to them. Thus, by analysing the water-related problems and factors contributing to them, we are in the search of existing techniques to tackle them. At the same time, we are also contemplating about the possibilities of revolutionising a journey to a conventional community centre into the new typology- “Pilgrimage in Nepalese society”.
3-3 Nepalese community centre? It has been clearly elaborated that the ‘sacred object’, which is the second and the most important component to the villagers, in the region is-water. Then, through our lens, the journey of sourcing clean water can be re-defined as a ‘transformative journey’, which is the first essential component. Lastly, the third component, a plaza for aggregation, is not so hard to be associated with the community centre entity itself. Therefore, Can we say going to this community centre is the pilgrimage in this sense? In addition, can this contemporary pilgrimage form a ‘permanent community’ rather than transitional one if the sacred object is always there for people to worship? Through looking into the characteristics of pilgrimages, as well as the local contexts, we want to propose a more egalitarian community to serve people from various backgrounds. In the next section, we will concentrate on finding pragmatic measures to address the water-related issues.
A girl carrying potable water.
A set of fog catcher system in Morocco.
4-1 Viable solution Humanity is facing a growing challenge of too much water in some places and not enough water in others. This is being driven not just by climate change, but by population and economic growth and poor water management, experts warn. -Stephen Leahy ‘From Not Enough to Too Much, the World’s Water Crisis Explained’ . 2018 published in NATIONAL GEOGRPHIC
As NATIONAL GEOPHIC reported, Nepal is one of the nations with growing population and poor water management. This chapter will introduce one ideal technique for collecting water efficiently in Nepal, addressing the water-related issues. Sourcing water has been a major problem in some regions around the world. However, there were some people who came up with brilliant ideas to deal with the problem .Carlos Espinosa Arancibia,a Chile scientist, for example, conducted a series of experiments in 1956 due to a severe drought. Despite the little precipitation in Chile, the clouds still carry humid air. Thus, this scientist invented ‘fog catchers’ which are capable of capturing droplets in the air. After that, the droplets are collected on the nets and then transported to the pipe underneath through gravitational force. Thanks to this innovative technique, it has helped a lot of local families to get potable water in the arid environment. One of the advantages is its cost-effectiveness. An ordinary fog catcher measured 40 square meters costs between $1000 and $1500, depending on the materials that are used. Additionally, it is fairly sustainable and easily assembled causing little environmental impacts on the fauna and flora living in the vicinity. This technique has been widely researched and introduced even in eastern Nepal because of the aforementioned advantages. Furthermore, water collecting can be done without using a precise apparatus or fog catchers. For instance, dew ponds, are used for sourcing water for rearing livestock on the hill. These ponds are usually artificially constructed with earthworks in a saucer-shaped typology. The ponds act as a container to collect rainwater. However, the temperature really affects how it works. If the pond’s temperature is high, the evaporation is greatly enhanced which results inefficiency of water collection. Apart from the temperature, the soil property also plays a crucial role in gathering water. According to some research , the damp clay is the main factor contributing to the condensation in the ground directly beneath the pond which replenishes the water.
One of dew ponds on the south coast of England.
Therefore, the dew ponds can only be found in some areas such as southern England, the North Derbyshire and so forth. Through analysing different water collection techniques, we finally conclude that fog catchers are the most pragmatic solution to the water crisis on the site thanks to its topography and humidity in the air.
4-2 The pilgrimage of everyday life? In the previous chapters, we have already clarified the notion of contemporary pilgrimage and the composition of it. After doing so, we would like to articulate what the pilgrimage of everyday life is like. First and foremost, like we mentioned before, ‘pilgrimage in Nepalese society’ contains three main components which re-interpret the concept of pilgrimage. They are ‘transformative journey’, ‘sacred object’ and ‘a plaza for aggregation’. Thus, can we see the journey toward a community centre which has the ‘sacred object’ (water) as a ‘transformative journey’ because it might be a socially, spiritually and substantially beneficial one? And, what if the ‘sacred object’ can be artificially created every day by means like fog catchers, can we see the centre as a sacred centre for daily aggregation? Moreover, pilgrimage can be embarked by pilgrims every time they want and need. Take the journey to the Wailing Wall for instance again, the pilgrims tend to go to the sacred centre for more than once to get themselves spiritually purified and remedied. Therefore, in this sense, if the pilgrims in this region need something important such as water and social bonds, they are highly likely to go to the ‘scared centre’ every day. So, can we see going to this community centre (sacred centre) as “The Pilgrimage Of Everyday Life”? To conclude, the design proposal has hopefully artificially created a sacred centre for everyday gathering, worship, celebration and so on. Through taking part in the communal activities, people will gradually gain a sense of community and solidarity which will revitalise this region after the 2015 earthquake.
5-1 Design proposal The project mainly tackles water-related issues and explores the ideal prototype of an egalitarian community centre which serves for all people. By introducing the fog catcher technique, it proposes to create a multifunctional gathering place for casual interaction, knowledge sharing, rites and so on. Situated in the absolutely picturesque landscape, the site is also enriched by the diversity of cultures and religions, endowed with supremely natural power. However, the topography, the growing population, and the lack of infrastructure result in water scarcity that needs to be addressed through architectural intervention. Water has been seen as a sacred component in Nepal in terms of religious activities and everyday life. Thus, the proposal focuses on transforming conventional community centre into “pilgrimage of everyday life”. The centre draws on locally sourced, sustainable materials but seeks to use them in innovative ways, thereby allowing the villagers to preserve their traditions and harvesting water with a sense of proud and dignity. Taking inspiration of Nepalese daily outfit, Doko, the bamboo structures are interwoven with meshes to a religiously and locally significant typology, representing and encouraging the villagers to be engaged with the construction of this iconic centre- one they can appreciate and take pride in. Formed from waxed linen held in bamboo structures above ground floor, the fog catchers allow humid air to pass through then condense it into droplets which are transported down the funnel and then the well. Furthermore, the system is capable of generating over 1300 litres of water per day, tremendously ameliorating the inefficiency of water collection, as well as creating ever-changing landscape formed by the glistening, translucent waxed linen. Also, the spiral structure amplifies the abundance of religious and natural power in this area, providing a place beneath it for people to worship the blue sky and celebrate the harvest of water. The plaza space can be highly flexible, used for meeting, food preparation, mediation and festive activities and so forth. The stone floor radiates out from the well with a series of bamboo columns, reinforcing the notion of community, enhancing the transition from sacredness to openness and re-integrating the stunning surroundings. The façade and exterior platforms are adorned and draped with the locals’ goods and food aroma. Thus, going to the community centre becomes a delightful and spiritual journey which one can experience personal and social transformation and celebrate the importance of local traditions, communal gatherings and Mother Earth. Also, this centre can be applied and built in some regions in Nepal which have similar contexts, and it will be Nepaleses paradigms of communal space.
‘Wow! You can carry that “Doko” which is packed with potteries.’ I say. ‘That’s not a big deal.’ She responds and invites me to have a Nepalese meal together. But, it was already noon when we got back with enough water, and I was exhausted. 29
The young boy carrying firewood also helps feed the goat and wash vegetables. In the meantime, Iâ€™m drawn to the aroma of food that the villagers are preparing.
The women are weaving wool into beautiful and intricate fabrics, which are ubiquitous & vital in the Nepalese society. I tried to weave myself but gave up as my moves are not as dexterous as they are. 31
It’s about 5 p.m, people are yelling to sell their commodity and decorating the façades spontaneously for advertisement that makes the street ever-changing landscape. ’ Would it be possible for me to get a discount for this pottery? I’m bargaining with the woman. 32
‘I’m giving a presentation and debating with the experts. ’The topography, the growing population, and the lack of infrastructures have resulted the site in a water-stressed area, affecting the families severely.’ I say. Their lives can be changed significantly with proper water collection infrastructure. 33
After a series of horrific earthquakes, I help the team deliver the aids into every refugee camp and see the children crying. ‘I’d never live in the buildings made of concrete or mud bricks’ the man says desperately. ‘It’s been seen as ‘means of fear’, you know?’ he adds. 34
'They are our friends.They give us milk and play with us.' She says. I am impressed by how close they are.
The magnificent landscape consisting of numerous religious instruments amazes me at one of the many sacred centres in Nepal. â€˜Rotate the prayer wheels, and your soul will get purifiedâ€™ the monk says. I then follow his instructions and wish things all the best. 36 30
Previous page: At dawn, I’m appreciating the spiritually & visually stunning scenes there. People are worshiping the supremely natural power and celebrating the blue sky at the new ’sacred’ centre that brings them water.
Facing page: The journey of fetching water becomes a social catalyst, facilitating the sense of solidarity & community. It is transformed into a delightfully social activity. I’m catching up with the locals and then sort of becoming part of the big family. 39
Facing page: â€™Come and join usâ€™ the woman tells me. Having been enticed by her, the villagers and I are immersing ourselves in the pure water in the monsoon season, paying tribute, bathing and celebrating at the centre together. 41
C C C
D D D
PLAN 0 40 80
Textile ( Canvas )
A-Aâ€™ Section 0 26 53
Interwoven bamboo structures Mesh(waxed linen)
Main structures (bamboo 10cm in diameter) Knots(hemp rope)
Funnel Sub frame Cable Funnelâ€™ structures (bamboo 5cm in diameter)
Wall Rotating door Textile(canvas) The well
Research Credits Pilgrimage Of Everyday Life research team (Book): Chia-Wei Chang, Mu-Hwai Liou, Po-Jen Cheng, Tzu-Jung Huang
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Author: Chia-Wei Chang, Mu-Hwai Liou, Tzu-Jung Huang @ Feng Chia University, School of Architecture [Po-jen Cheng Studio]
Published on Aug 11, 2018
Author: Chia-Wei Chang, Mu-Hwai Liou, Tzu-Jung Huang @ Feng Chia University, School of Architecture [Po-jen Cheng Studio]