Sustainability in Developing Communities
SEM 2 l 2013
Hi! My name is Fernanda, 22 years old, study abroad student in the second semester here at The University of Melbourne. I am currently taking the Bachelor of Environments, Major Architecture. It is kind of difficult to explain why I choose this subject. The most reasonable thing to say is that it was in my path along the experiences I am supposed to pass during my period at this university. I heard about it through some friends that share the same interests as me, read the description in the handbook and decided to try. Since I was in elementary school I have been involved in volunteer work, and it is something that I consider an important point of my life story. The experiences that I have been through because I was inserted in those activities were really important to define my personality and help me to become the person I am today. As a future architect and young person I have a taste for travelling, specially exotic and unusual destinations. At this moment of my life it represents a need for me to know the world and discover what it has to offer. I like to experience places, not only visit, but try to live it understand its culture and the reality of the local citizens. I was born in Brazil, in the capital, of one of the poorest states of the nation. Along my life I have seen poverty in various interfaces and caused by different reasons. Fortunately I do not live this reality but based on what I have seen and especially the place and people I come from I can understand in a reasonable way what destitute people go through in life. I would like to make a difference for people like this. Everything I do in my life, all the effort I put in each work I get involved and perform, it is not only for me and my professional and personal growing, I want to be great and big in order that someday I will be able to support causes, people and communities like the ones I have seen.
Some of the kids that I have worked with during my time as a volunteer in communities close to my city
When I saw that Plan was one of the supporters of the challenge of EWB I was particularly excited about it. Plan acts in the suburbs around my city supporting children and providing them with sponsors from overseas. I used to work for them translating letters from the sponsors for the children and in a reverse way too, it was quite an interesting job. When I saw the design areas designated for the challenge I wanted to be part of something that could approach and connect all the possibilities. It is something that I believe it is possible, especially if I am able to make my group work in partnership with the others in the class. For now I am inserted in the Infrastructure and Construction group, which I believe is reasonable since I want to work in something that can embrace all the areas. My group has not decided exactly what will be the direction and project we will develop, we still brainstorming and trying to find something that we all support and think about something that will be relevant for the community of Codo in Timor Leste.
During this week workshop I was happy to have chosen the group I will be working with until the end of the semester and defined our main direction, at the same time I was disappointed with the main group who is taking the subject and their idea about the community we will be working with, mostly their understanding of the situation that people from Codo live in. During our discussion I noticed that people were underestimating the ability of people from the community in many aspects. I do understand that they have limited knowledge in many of the things that we know, however during the design process I believe we should consider the type of production and abilities that they already have and apply in the many things they perform. I do not believe the people from Codo are the same as the other destitute communities that I have worked with, but what I do believe is that we do have something to learn from the way they live and deal with their conditions, and is something that we should widely consider while designing something for them. One part of the workshop I found really interesting was the moment that Graham spoke about the toilet and how people deal with this kind of situation when they live in those types of communities where they do not have access to sanitation or sewer system as we do. I did know about it because of my previous experience in my country, these conditions are not so unusual in the countryside in the region where I come from. I travelled with some friends during the holidays and was kind of surprised when them and some other tourists among us did not recognize this type of toilet, and were disgusted of the manners that people deal with it. The same way it was a shock for my friends and the other tourist to have to face that situation, I believe it was a good initiative to expose that fact to the entire group. I also think it was not as strong as to make people experience it, but I do believe it will encourage the group to rethink how broad our understanding about the community is.
This week we defined that we want to work in the design of a Child Friendly Space using local materials. I shared with my group, ASA, this project that I think is just spectacular. This is a school called Nueva Esperanza, in a community in Ecuador, it was designed and constructed by Al Borde Arquitectos and volunteers from the own community.
This week was really positive for our group. We shared all the information we collected from our personal research about Codo community and East Timor. We made a compilation of all the data we gathered giving special emphasis for the ones that will be most relevant for our final project, the design of a Child Friendly Space for the community.
My personal Reflective Map
Compilation of the most relevant information collected by the group members.
This week we continued with the research phase, right now focused on our final aim. We divided the research tasks according five categories, so each member was responsible for one: Building Materials (durability, accessibility, cost), Environment (climate, components of area, pests, wildlife), Culture (values, beliefs, religion, demographics), Existing Buildings (locally used materials), Child Friendly Spaces + Plan (designs, organization interests and aims). I particularly like the possibility of designing a Child Friendly Space. At this moment I am taking another subject that is focused on pos-disaster situations, is something that I am really interested on studying, and we have had a background about the Cfs`s on it as well. Related to the event I think it was important this week, I would like to mention a situation that happened with my previous group members before we split in two groups. We are now five members at ASA group and three members at the other group, however one of the members decided to leave the group because he was interested in other area, what left the other two unable to participate of the challenge by themselves. They tried to find another group, I do not know if they did, but I really liked their attitude towards the entire group of explaining their situation and also in what they were interested in working on, for me that proved that they really believe on what they wish to work with, what also represents a strength for their future design approach.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=MJuzK8gTExk This link is about a video of the works that Plan develops in Timor Leste related to the youth and the children of the communities.
During the feedback session about the reflective journal and my overall progress in the subject I was very surprised and disappointed. At first my understanding of the reflective journal was that we were free to create it in the way we considered best as long as we attended the requirements of the main purpose of it, review and reflect about the experiences we were having along this course. Due to it I tried to do something that I could keep for me and share with other people after the end of the subject. My option was to create a journal based on an online platform this way I could update and share the journal with other people that did not have access to the wiki page. I was criticized because of it, mostly because it was not requested to do so, however I was told that I could continue with this approach to make my reflective journal. The other point was related to the context map, and the way I did it, instead of summarizing the most important information collected from the EWB website related to the community, I did an overall review of the main aspects that I could conclude after exploring the website. I was advised to follow the subject guidelines of exercise instead of trying to reach the same points through different and personal approaches. And the last was related to my personal wikipage that I had not created, I was usually uploading and sharing files through the general page we created on wiki, but mainly on our facebook group, that is considered by me and the other group members as the best way to share information and communicate after workshop ours, and it has been working phenomenally. The main reason of my disappointment was because during this feedback session I could notice that I was not transmitting the imagine I wish for the people outside of my group, I do not like to be considered not committed and since I am developing a project and I am part of a group I believe I should always contribute in the best way possible. I guess the main reasons why I was not following all the steps is because I was a little bit frustrated with the progress of the subject, mainly because in our group we were all progressing with the research part very fast and in general we were eager and anxious to reach the next phases of the program.
Reflective Model of the overall situation
New context map 13
During this week we reached the second stage of the process that will lead us to our final result. Our group was particularly happy to finally get to this point. Till now the research that we have been developing was quite extensive and proved that all group members can work efficiently according to the tasks we designate to each other. We have been using the wikipage, however our main way of communication still being the facebook group, something that I believe will endure till the end of the semester because it is easy for us to access and we can stay connected through it as friends and group members almost 24 hours a day. We also decided today what are our aims for the CFS we are going to design, the things we need to incorporate on it according to the aims, and some of the activities that we wish to implement for the children in the community. We were encouraged to do look for some innovative ideas and think about how our design can also be innovative according to its requirements and restrictions.
Innovative ideas to be incorporated in the design (Orquideorama â€“ Colombia)
This week we kept exploring the possibilities that could be reached through our design. Our main progress was related to the material exploration and how we could incorporate different, cheap and local, material into the design structure. We also progress in towards our final design and the final appearance it will have, and how the elements will relate to each other inside the plan we will propose. However, at this stage nothing was defined. We shared tasks, and next week each group member will be responsible for cover one section of the issues we found during this week. Like this 3 members were designated to explore the design possibilities â€“ spatial distribution, and techniques to improve the light ventilation and weather protection â€“ and the other two for the materials and how we could incorporate them on the design.
Results of our brainstorming process and division of tasks to each group member further investigate.
This week I noticed that our progress was not as relevant as the other weeks, having a certain amount of experience related to this issue, I recognize that this is a difficult moment for the group, as we all get a little bit frustrated because we are simply stuck in some issues of the design and before we solve this issues we cannot move forward. We were requested to produce a poster related to what we have been doing so far and expose it to the class next week. I guess this specific task will be helpful for us to realize what perception each one of us has about the different aspects of the design and our functions inside it.
This week we had the opportunity to expose what we have been doing so far for the rest of the class and also receive comments and feedback about it. This was good for us as a group because we could notice very clearly what was each individual perception of what we are doing was. It also worked for us to see in which aspect each group member is involved and if we are confident and happy with the results we have been achieving. We could notice that we have done a lot of research and we have a very strong background of the overall aspects that we should cover in our design. After this we conclude that now is time to take decisions so we can reach our final design.
My poster for this week show and tell.
This week we were supposed to receive feedback of our individual design options submitted during the break. Again it was nice to see the strengths of each different design and how we incorporated the knowledge we acquired of the research on them. All the group members were a little bit tired, the end of the semester is coming, and the amount of work just increases, this affected our progress this week, however we took some very important decisions that made our final design almost defined.
Diagrams showing the functions and overall plan of my individual design option. One important characteristic of it is the division in different buildings. This aspect can make easier for the community and the volunteers notice the progress of the construction in a faster way, what can work as an additional motivation for them during the construction process.
This was the last week before the presentation. We are running a little bit out of time but fortunately we will be able to finish all the details for the presentation next week without any problems. Our design was totally defined this week. Our main focus now was the production of the report and how we are going to organize our ideas inside it. It was really nice seeing the goodbye of Kaya this week also, through her words and her emotion I could notice how much she believes on the learning and effort we put into this subject. For me it represented a sign that she was satisfied with the progress of the group and attached to us psychologically. It was really great seeing her express her feelings towards us, it reminded me of my personal experience of teaching little ballerinas and how proud I used to be of them in the of the year during the presentations.
Scheme of our final design â€“ Main Hut
This week we had our final presentations. It was really good seeing what we were able to achieve with this subject. In the end I was really satisfied with our final design, the way we developed it, and how we covered both physical and psychological aspects on it. Our group was amazing during the entire time, if there is something I am satisfied about, is how we were able to communicate and understand each other, even during the stressful moments related to other aspects of the uni life. Each member was essential in the accomplishment of this task, the way we engaged and complemented each other according our own areas was fantastic, it was the best international group experience that I had in my academic life until today.
Final Design Master Plan
Final Design Perspective â€“ Main Hut
Special Thanks to… ASA (Appropriate Simple Aim) Group Members:
Jacqueline Di Vincenzo
Gustavo Leão Carvalho
… and Juliana Prpic (Kaya). It was a great experience working with all of you during this semester! 29
Sustainability in Developing Communities SEM 2 I 2013