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Volunteer Studio TARLUNGENI OPEN SPACE PROJECT Project Document

Project Cordinators Huan Rimington and Hannah Martin +44 (0) 75150 24636 / +44 (0) 78067 83677 tarlungeni@gmail.com www.tarlungeni.tumblr.com University of Sheffield Enterprise Portobello Sheffield South Yorkshire S10 4DP


Volunteer Studio is a charity that initiates innovative community architecture projects in the UK and abroad.

Contents of Project Document: A B C D E

Summary Project description Project Structure Context and research Working Diary August 2010


A

Summary

Project name Tarlungeni Open Space project Location Tarlungeni, Brasov County, Romania Beneficiaries Marginalised Roma community of Tarlungeni Project Partner FAST (Fundatia pentru Asistenta Sociala si Tineret, or the Foundation for Social

Assistance and Youth) Confirmed Funders EU Youth in Action programme

Erasmus Scheme HE Social Entrepreneurship Catalyst Award Time scale March 2011 – November 2011 Overview Tarlungeni Open Space Project is working to develop an area of unappropriated wasteland into much needed community facilities in the marginalised Roma settlement of Tarlungeni, Romania. The initiative will support local people’s participation in improvements to their settlement.

The project’s long term objective is to further the social inclusion of the Roma population by challenging racial discrimination and supporting future resident lead community development. Environmental improvements will tackle ghettoisation and the negative perceptions of the settlement’s current appearance endorses. Resident participation in all stages of the project will challenge widely held prejudices that Roma poverty is self inflicted and generate opportunities for positive cross community experiences. A participatory approach, supported by the recently stablished Asociotio Rromilor Tarlungeni, empowers villagers to make decisions locally and take ownership of their community.


B

Project Description

Situation Across Europe Roma communities are subject to widespread discrimination and marginalisation. In Tarlungeni, the situation has seen the Roma community, despite settling over 100 years ago, remain a sub settlement on the main village’s periphery. Located on land previously used for waste disposal, adjacent to a polluted local river, the Roma settlements appearance is a noticeable reflection of ongoing poverty. This helps endorse negative perceptions and contributes to the ghettoisation of the settlement; other residents avoid contact with the Roma community, exacerbating ignorance further. Prejudices result in Roma exclusion from social, economic and political opportunities. Many will avoid employing or conducting business with Roma so the potential of income generation as a way out of poverty is limited. Disenfranchisement and extreme poverty forces many to prioritise themselves and their families. The situation results to obstacles to community development and prompts accusations that Roma poverty is ‘cultural’. In Tarlungeni, despite challenging circumstances, a community association has been formed.


Intervention The project will build community facilities on wasteland alongside the settlements riverside, appropriating one of few areas of public space. This will improve the settlements environment and bring a positive impact upon the resident’s quality of life. Currently, the area which almost all residents walk through daily is covered in waste; children play here despite the very obvious health risks. A participatory approach to decision making and design of community facilities is adopted to maximise local resident’s involvement in the project (a detailed plan is included in section B of this document). The approach aims to empower local people to lead improvements to their village environment and draws on partner FAST’s local understanding. Workshops and design sessions are an opportunity to work collaboratively and negotiate conflicting views The Town Hall has agreed to support the project, providing a unique opportunity for partnership between members of the Roma and non Roma community. The project will utilise local timber construction and craftsmanship; providing valuable experience on a larger scale project and exposing trades to the wider community

The project is comprised of

3 phases:

1 Clear the rubbish along the riverside and initiate waste collection pilot project. Currently there are no

waste collection services in this area. The municipality takes the stance that if services were provided the Roma community would not cooperate.

2 Prevent further erosion of the riverbank by reinforcing the area with gabions. 3 Create productive community facilities.


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1 Install a waste collection with provision of bins and fencing to protect them.

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2 Prevent further erosion of the river by diverting the flow of water and reinforcing the riverbank with either concrete and/or gabion, which will also expand the useable space of the riverbank.

STRATEGY The project can be broken down into three stages over the forthcoming year. A O

3 Create a social space on the new reinforced riverside which we will design and build with the villagers. The breakdown of stages prevent creating unachievable expectations as the success of gaining funding is unknown. Below is an example of the garden furniture that the carpenters of the village have designed and are now constructing to sell to the public. These pieces could potentially be used to make up a potential play area.

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Evaluation

Fundraising & Preparation


Outcome The project’s long term objective is to further the social inclusion of the Roma population by challenging racial discrimination and supporting future resident lead community development Tackle negative prejudices and discrimination of Roma population The project’s takes the stance that in addition to legislative efforts personal and collective experiences are crucial to challenging the discrimination of Roma minorities. This will influence both individual attitudes and local public policy. Environmental improvements will challenge negative prejudices endorsed by the settlements current appearance. Exemplifying Roma participation will make question the notion that Roma communities are indifferent to self improvement. Partnership with the Town Hall will generate positive cross community experiences; furthering understanding and prompt a rethinking of attitudes. Support future resident lead community development Empowering residents to lead settlement improvements will increase a sense of pride and ownership in the community. Achieving resident objectives will increase confidence in an individual’s and the community’s ability to bring about improvements. Resident’s participation in the project will help equip residents with the organisational negotiating and leadership skills to initiate future development.


Long term strategy The project builds on partner FAST’s previous work in Tarlungeni. The charity’s housing program has helped families that are disenfranchised and ingrained in poverty to gain pride and aspirations. It’s education program supports young people to become the role models and instigators of social changes of the future. Although FAST have made a long term commitment to the village, the projects approach is to further the Roma communities ability to initiate improvements. Its long term vision sees the residents of Tarlungeni well placed to lead development and unrestricted by discrimination.


C Project Structure Volunteer Studio Project Coordinators Huan Rimington and Hannah Martin FAST contact Daniel Hristea Partnership FAST (Foundation for Social Assitance and Youth) Volunteer Studios collaboration with FAST combines the Romanian charity’s very high level of understanding and successful community relationship with Volunteer Studio’s knowledge of participation based design approaches. The project co-ordinators Huan Rimington and Hannah Martin have written studies researching Participation based approaches to address housing poverty in marginalised communities and The roles and responsibilities of architectural interventions attempting to integrate disempowered communities into modern society with respect to preserving or revitalising cultural identity, respectively. Both studies had a specific emphasis on Roma groups and through working with FAST have helped develop a contextually appropriate methodology. About FAST aims to ‘help underprivileged people from Romania in their fight against poverty and discrimination’ through its education, music and Better Homes programmes. The charity has been working with Roma communities in Tarlungeni, Zizin, Budila, and Sacele, Brasov county since 1998. The charity that employs a mixture of Roma and non Roma staff has a strong track record. Of particular relevance is its Better Homes program success in its attempts to address substandard housing in the TarlungeniRoma community. FAST’s strategy has involved building new homes as well as supporting improvements to existing ones through technical, financial and materials support. Recently the once hostile Town Hall agreed to donate timber for house construction, a testament to FAST’s considerable achievements. Romanian registration 71/1998 For more information visit www.fastcharity.ro


Before and After: 3 years of the Better Homes program


Advisors University of Sheffield School of Architecture Architecture for Humanity Catalin Berescu, FRONTAL and Ion Mincu University of Architecture Maurice Mitchell, London Metropolitan University The Romanian Cultural Centre, London Volunteer Design and Build Article 25

Roles and responsibilities Delegated roles Volunteer Studio will be responsible for fundraising, english language communications, design expertise and project evaluation. FAST will be responsible for local commutations, municipality relations, technical construction expertise, negations with local suppliers. Collaborative roles Volunteer Studio will jointly agree programme design, project budget and coordination of activities with FAST. Post project completion FAST will continue to work in Tarlungeni on other programs post project completion. The charity will be responsible for supporting the Roma community in the ownership and maintenance of facilities and provide updates of the projects long term impacts.


Working Methods Part 1 Immersing (commencing August 2010) - Meeting with the committee members of the Roma Community Association through the assistance of Daniel Hristea (FAST director). These are Anca Mezei (also a member of FAST staff) and Diana Pruteanu (local kindergarten teacher and member of the Tarlungeni Roma community) and Costi (previous Town Council member and member of TarlungeniRoma community). This meeting included an initial discussion of the residents’ needs and ideas for communal facilities, as well as a tour of the village from their perspective. - With the assistance of Daniel, will we will set up an initial meeting between the Town Hall and the Roma Community association to discuss the project. The Town Hall is an essential partner, as any building will be subject to their approval. Although the Town Hall has neglected the Roma community in the past, the project is in their interest as it will improve the image of the whole village. FAST’s experience and the Town Hall’s recent assistance with the Better Homes project support this approach. - With the assistance of FAST staff we will carry out informal discussions with the residents to enable us to map current networks, facilities and amenities in the village. This will inform our knowledge of the settlement and allow us to gain a better appreciation of villagers’ needs and priorities. - With the assistance of Diana we will conduct workshops with children in the community to give an insight into their perceptions of the settlement. - With the assistance of Daniel, we will discuss residents’ attitudes towards their settlement, segregation and subsequent autonomy. As this is a sensitive matter, Daniel’s experience and understanding is vital. - Meet with councillors and members of the ‘Romanian’ community to understand their attitudes further. This meeting will also be facilitated by Daniel. - During this phase we intend to stay with a Roma household in the settlement, to further our understanding and start to build up a relationship with the community.


Part 2 Workshops and Discussions - With the assistance of the Roma Community Association, we will arrange a community meeting to determine what facilities should be built. This will be located in the Tarlungeni school. It will be publicised by the association and FAST’s staff in the village. The meeting will determine the purpose, scale, location of the facilities and establish a committee of residents to lead the initiative.


Part 3 Participatory Design - Conduct workshops to design facilities. This will feature an initial open debate discussion, followed by the opportunity to discuss precedents. - An evaluation of the community’s assets and local manufacturing skills will inform designs, to make best use of local human and material resources. - In smaller groups, different designs will be developed using accessible representation techniques, such as model making. These methods allow a variety of age groups to engage with the process, including children. Individual groups will be facilitated by FAST’s staff. Designs will then be presented back to the community to encourage further discussion. - Proposals will be simply modelled at 1:1 scale on the riverbank site to take into account location, and orientation in relation to access routes, dwellings, the river and the wider community. -

A meeting with all residents will democratically determine what design is chosen

Part 4 Participatory Construction - Builders from FAST’s Better Homes program discuss the implication of constructing the chosen design with villagers. - With the assistance of Daniel, the committee will meet local suppliers to source materials for the design proposal. - Commence building the new facilities with assistance of local volunteers and the Better Homes team.

Part 5 Evaluation -

Oversee the completion of the construction.

- Conduct a meeting with the community to evaluate the working relationship and consider future developments.

Monitoring and evaluation Project coordinators Huan Rimington and Hannah Martin will post regular progress reports on the Projects Blog (www.tarlungeni.tumblr.com). On conclusion of the project, an evaluation will be conducted discussing; how well objectives were met, how funds were used and how the methodology could be improved. The coordinators intend to publish a summary of the projects activities to inform a wider audience.


D

Contextual information and research

Location Roma settlement, Tarlungeni village, Brasov County, Romania

Tarlungeni Total Population: 7657* Total Roma Population: 2300 approx.


Community Structure 800 famillies. 1500 Children (under 15) and 800 Adults The backdrop of continuing poverty has lead to a mentality that sees families prioritising the protection and betterment of themselves. The situation results in some unwillingness to work for communal objective. The communitiy could better be described as having a power hierarchy rather than a democratic structure. These hierarchies are complex, but those that are ’stronger’ include those that are feared, those that are richer and those with larger families. The Asociotio Rromilor Tarlungeni (Tarlungeni Roma Association) has approximately 20 members and an committee composing of Diana, Anca and Costi. It should be noted that local representatives may have personal biases.

External organisational structure Local government in Tarlungeni is formed by an elected Mayor (executive rather than ceremonial) and a council. There is one Roma (Bonculescu Gabriel) and approximately nine ‘Romanian’ and Hungarians on the council. The local police operate from the same building as the mayor, although report to a different department.

Mapping With the assistance of Daniel and Anca (FAST), physical and social arrangements of the community were mapped.

Amenities These were pedestrian and vehicle networks, water supply / water pipes, fencing, garden furniture production, wealth, schools, town hall and locations of influential community members. Existing interventions of the Better Homes project is also included. This information is presented in the attached maps.


Roma Settlement in Tarlungeni village

Main Access Routes Informal Access Routes Dwelling Marked out territory

Public Building

School


Networks The attached maps show both legal and accepted routes through the village. The ‘accepted’ routes are pedestrian access through private yards. These connect the wealthier south east to the poorer riverside, linking the legal routes. Villages travel through the yards of people they are in favour with, avoiding those who they are not. It was suggested that fencing plot frontages could restrict these networks. However, routes generally operate with the approval of owners. The south east end is already gated, so this is unlikely to be an issue.

Family relationships Generally extended families build new houses in the village side by side. There are also instances where families build in the same plot and where several generations live in the same house.


E

Working Diary Trip to Tarlungeni August 2010

Wednesday 11th August 2010 Initial discussion with community representative of Tarlungeni Huan, Hannah, Cecily, Louise, Calum, Daniel - Better Homes project manager, Diana - community spokesperson, Anca - FAST school teacher Today we discussed with Diana initial ideas for the potential communal use of the unappropriated space alongside the river. She took us for a walk through the village outlining possible sites for the project and their implications. Exploring the riverbank Diana brought to our attention the eroding and unstable riverbanks which could prevent the land being used in its current state. The town hall had started to reinforce part of the riverbank using gabion and reinforced concrete which could potentially be completed using just gabion at a lower cost. Diana indicated that maybe the town hall could facilitate this by providing the materials. Diana was intrigued to know what our initial ideas were. Before heading to Romania we had discussed themes related to play, waste disposal, vegetable growing and water supply/washing. After discussing these themes with Diana we agreed on which themes were the most appropriate for the village. These were: - a play area. We are aware that there are no designated spaces for children to play safely. As a kindergarten teacher, Diana felt this was the most important. - waste disposal. The riverbank is currently littered with rubbish as a result of no communal waste facilities. It is essential we not only clear it out but also encourage the villagers to keep the area tidy through the provision of appropriate facilities. Any intervention needs to be in with full cooperation with the town hall. - water supply/washing facilities. There are currently few communal water taps in the village, which are located on the more developed south eastern part far from the riverside. The poorer villages use the polluted river for washing clothes. The idea of communal allotments appear difficult. There is generally enough space for people to grow on their individual lots and it may be hard to promote a collective growing arrangement.


Exhibiting the crafts of Tarlugeni The village have recently began to produced garden furniture which they intend to sell. We discussed using their manufacturing skills in the construction of a playground or other facilities. Daniel previously suggested exhibiting the furniture along the riverside to help promote the villagers craft. Our current position We concluded the day by discussing time scale and funding arrangements. Whilst we are committed to the participation of the whole village we are aware we currently do not have funding. We are initially keeping a low key presence in the village and handling negotiations sensitively to avoid creating unachievable expectations.


Thursday 12th August 2010 Working on Better Homes Today we helped with the Better Homes scheme, plastering a house in the village. One of the children of the house, Romana, was delighted by the newcomers presence and persistently tried to help us plaster. We noticed that the children were constantly hanging around the house where construction was happening. Although they were supervised by their grandfather, they were playing amongst broken glass and building materials, causing potential hazards. This suggests there is a real need for a safe, stimulating play area for the children of the village away from construction sites.

Friday 13th August Ziurel (FAST community centre). Huan, Hannah and Daniel Discussion: long term strategy The project can be broken down into three stages over the forthcoming year. This prevents creating unachievable expectations of the project when funding is yet to be secured. 1)Resolving waste disposal 2)Prevent further erosion of the riverbank 3)Creating communal facilities Discussion of Waste Disposal Two proposals were put forward during the previous discussion with Asociotio Rromilor Tarlungeni 1) Communal bins that anyone could access 2) Waste collection from individual houses Communal bins This would allow anyone in the village to dispose of waste in a manner that would not damage the local environment. To offer a realistic alternative to dumping rubbish on the riverside, bins would need to be placed at several locations, to be at a convenient distance from all houses. Daniel informed that some of the poorest villagers sustained themselves by scavenging through bins in wealthier areas of Brasov. Accordingly, he was aware these bins would present an unwelcome reminder of this degrading activity, while bin searching could also start in the Tarlungeni settlement. In addition, communal bin locations were smelly and messy in reality; this would not be a positive use of the riverside, or present a positive impression of the Roma community. Proposal for waste collection from individual houses Connecting the village with municipal services would present an important step for the Roma Communities integration. Furthermore, the Better Homes projects success is beginning to be recognised locally and nationally. If this approach were successful, it could challenge the view that Roma communities are unwilling to cooperate with waste collection and make the case for others to extend municipal services to Roma communities.


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Households with indirect access to  communal bins

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maximum reasonable  distance to walk to communal bins:   direct access

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 Communal bins that anyone could access

2  Waste collection from individual houses

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A pilot project of 18 houses The town hall is currently not taking responsibility for collection of waste from this part of the Roma village, so any extension of municipal services would require sensitive negotiation. A pilot could demonstrate the feasibility of collection services at little difficulty to the Town Hall. The provision of bins Currently most villagers do not process, and lack the resources to purchase, containers for storing rubbish for prior to collection. The provision of bins is therefore necessary for the approach to be feasible, but also will provide a valuable lever in negotiations with the Town Hall.

Erosion Discussed possible strategies for dealing with the erosion issue. These were using: - rubble with a retaining wire mesh (put for by suggested by Diana) - scrap concrete boulders (put forward by Daniel) - gabions constructed on site (put forward by Huan and Hannah) Agreed to make further research into the costs and practicalities of each method


Saturday 14th August Ziurel (FAST community centre). Huan, Hannah, Anca and Daniel Discussion: Bin provision Several options exist for the type of containers to provide. 5 full size ‘wheelie’ bins have already been supplied to villagers by FAST. Although these bins are slightly more expensive than other models, previous consultation by Daniel revealed larger, more durable bins were the residents preferred option. Although slightly less expensive options exist, Better Homes project has shown interventions that families can take pride in are far more likely to succeed in this disenfranchised community. Supplying fencing materials to secure bins Most villagers don’t have the facilities to store bins securely so they may be stolen. Supplying fencing may appear a diversion from the waste disposal issue, but it is the only realistic option. There was also the reservation that fencing would lead to less people taking ownership of the riverside. However, Daniel had already engaged residents in extensive discussions: all residents were in favour of fencing - many had approached Daniel previously to seek assistance in fencing their home. Privacy and security is of great importance in a community facing many challenges; something highly valued by residents, but difficult for outsiders to appreciate. While we would like to further a communal mentality, it must to be noted that this cannot be imposed and we need to work with the existing individualistic structure. Costing First 18 houses nearest the road 6 houses already have bins supplied by FAST / themselves 9 houses already have fencing Project to provide 12 bins and 9 x plot fencing Bins (ea) = 210 RON Fencing Average plot size = 10m frontage Steel post = 100 RON Timber = 500 RON / m2 Gate fixing =100 RON Fencing per plot = 5 posts + (10 x 2 x 0.025)m2 timber + gate fixing = 500 + (0.5 x 500) + 100= 850 RON Total Pilot project cost = 12 bins and 9 plot fencing = (12 x 210) + (9 x 850) = 2520 + 7650 = 10170 RON


Sunday 15th August Ziurel (FAST community centre). Huan, Hannah and Daniel Discussion - Timescales / communication / funding / future Timescales Waste collection - Daniel is going to speak to the Town Hall and hopes waste collection arrangements can be in place by October. Fencing - building is difficult between November and February due to cold temperatures. However it would be possible for fencing to be constructed in October if funding were in place. Erosion - with regard to undertaking erosion prevention work, there is no particular time when the river levels are unusually high. The last time very high water levels occurred was during the summer months 4 years ago.

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Location of Bins and Fencing Households currently owning bins

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Monday 16th August 2010 Morning at Kindergarten Huan, Hannah, Diana and children Today we went to visit Diana and her class of 19 children in the recently constructed kindergarten school in Tarlungeni. After dishing out a nutritious lunch we asked the children to draw a picture of their village to try and obtain what they think about the place in which they live. At the start only a few put pencil to paper, so to prompt the others Diana demonstrated on the blackboard what things they could have in their picture: sun, tree, houses, river etc. The rest of the children gladly started to follow this formula to create their pictures, in the attempt to get the right answer! What was interesting was how different children prioritised different things, the river having a presence in the majority of the pictures. One boy who lives in the orphanage drew a completely different composition that appears quite abstract. More than anything the morning simply allowed us to spend time with the children and start to learn how they play and interact with each other. For one activity the children were perfectly happy to run races in the empty open space whilst their fellow classmates cheered them on. It will be important to spend more time with the children when we come back to Romania to inform ourselves more of their characteristics and needs.


Project Cordinators Huan Rimington and Hannah Martin +44 (0) 75150 24636 / +44 (0) 78067 83677 tarlungeni@gmail.com www.tarlungeni.tumblr.com University of Sheffield Enterprise Portobello Sheffield South Yorkshire S10 4DP


Project Document