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January 2014

Leading the next generation of socially responsible architects and designers

DESIGN + COMMUNITY The online publication of Rebuild Global

[RE]THINKING ARCHITECTURE PREPARING THE NEXT GENERATION INDIA GLOBAL STUDIO KENYA HUMANITARIAN DESIGN UGANDA TECHNICAL COLLEGE


January 2014

In This Issue 02 EDITOR’S LETTER: [Re]thinking Architecture 03 FOUNDER’S LETTER: Preparing the Next Generation

Featured Stories:

UGANDA 15

Upgrade of a Technical Teachers’ College Challenges and Opportunities

INDIA 5

GLOBAL STUDIO Re-Imagining Inclusive Urbanism

KENYA 10

Rebuild Global in Kenya Humanitarian Design in the Studio (Front Cover)

Share your stories with us:

Rebuild360 is the online publication of Rebuild Global. Our stories feature the work of architects and designers contributing to social impact projects around the world. If you have a story to share, or have any questions, send an email to Crystal at cneff@rebuildglobal.org.

Connect with us:

Visit our website (www.rebuildglobal.org), follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/rebuildglobal.org), and don’t forget to check out our new blog (www.hellorebuild360.wordpress.com). We appreciate your feedback and comments and we look forward to hearing from you!


January 2014 partnerships, and shared goals. It is through these very things that we are blessed with lasting friendships, opportunities for personal growth, and stories that may otherwise go untold. These stories almost always unfold into something much bigger, far beyond our own experiences and those who tell about them. Often times, a remarkable story evolves from one person’s vision into a coalition of united individuals – a community – implementing solutions to the world’s most challenging issues. This is what inspires us to do the work we do.

Editor’s Letter [Re]thinking Architecture A World Vision of Social Responsibility At its most fundamental level, Rebuild360 is a mindset. It is a social movement and it is our future. The primary focus of the organization’s projects (and this publication) may be on sustainable architecture and design, but the vision of the organization attempts to do much more than purely solve an architectural dilemma. While working toward our own vision by sharing the stories within these pages, we share a world vision of social responsibility and sustainable design. It is this same vision which drives the people behind the organization and those who contribute to its projects to tackle a much broader global dilemma of limited access to the most basic resources. Whether we are volunteers, nonprofit partners, or entire communities, we are all intrinsically motivated to create a more equitable world through design and architecture. Just as it is an incessant need to fill the ubiquitous gap between the world’s imbalances such as those between the wealthy and the poor, it is our duty to

Crystal Neff advocate the power of design, and to serve a greater purpose other than purely designing for the sake of designing. It takes the creativity and collaboration of many uniquely talented and passionate individuals to bring a project to life; one that is capable of changing the world in big and small ways. We are driven by design, in every sense of the word. Our goal: to design with a sense of social compassion; to create pathways to equitable and resilient communities; to provide hope. Rebuild Global seeks to find more productive and effective ways of mobilizing the immobile, affecting change, and creating opportunities where they did not previously exist; and, along the way, providing the necessary resources to capitalize on those opportunities for the greater good. In the same sense, the rewards of these projects are multi-faceted. They provide a return on an individual and global level. They connect individuals, organizations, and communities. They encourage dialogue,

In essence, R360 is an attempt to begin a collective story of hope for our readers, contributing writers, and volunteers around the globe. But most important, it is a story of hope for those who are on the receiving end of the resources we are able to provide with the help of our volunteers and staff. If it were not for all the participants of this vision, this story may be told much differently. Perhaps it would not be told at all. So let’s spread the word together. We invite you -- to help rebuild the world.

“Just as it is an inces-

sant need to fill the ubiquitous gap between the world’s imbalances such as those between the wealthy and poor, it is our duty to advocate the power of design, and to serve a greater purpose other than purely designing for the sake of designing.”

Crystal Neff is the Editor in Chief of Rebuild360 and a creative writer in the architectural and social sectors. She is currently living in Japan. 02


January 2014

Founder’s Letter Preparing the Next Generation

The Power of Our Profession Design is everywhere. It’s in the cities we build, the products we create, and the systems we develop. Every day, thousands of individuals are contributing their design services to make the world a better place. Whether it is designing affordable housing for families in need, a playground as a safe haven for children, or a center that teaches women about health and nutrition, we are fortunate to experience the transformational power of design and its ability to improve the quality of life. As an organization, we understand the power of our profession and the influence we have on teaching others how to live a sustainable life. This is our leverage. We choose to build cities that produce energy rather than deplete it, design products with minimal waste, and promote livable communities that uphold long-term behavioral shifts, resulting in a culture of environmental sustainability. For us, this is one of our greatest challenge and greatest rewards. Right now is an exciting time in the design profession. More and more

design. These same individuals are on a quest to fulfill a purpose of greater significance – a need to solve the world’s most pressing problems. Imagine if we approached architecture and design in a way which prepared students to work on projects that not only tackled a specific design problem, but also helped alleviate social inequality. Imagine a curriculum that provided opportunities to students where they could bring families out of poverty, provide access to schools and education, or develop ways of improving access to clean water. By providing these opportunities, we are rightfully so preparing our next generation to think about the future implications of design.

Sandra Plaza

“Imagine a curriculum that provided opportunities to students where they could bring families out of poverty, provide access to schools and education, or develop ways of improving access to clean water.” individuals are looking for creative ways to utilize their skills to contribute to the well-being of their environments as well as other communities that do not have equal means of doing so. At the same time, this creativity is also driving innovation in a way that addresses sustainability issues on many different fronts. Individuals are seeking alternative outlets where they are not defined by traditional practices of architecture and

Rebuild Global has been working in the social sector since 2004 encouraging these very same values. Emerging from the San Diego Chapter of Architecture for Humanity, today we are our own 501c3 nonprofit organization and have been inspired by the work of hundreds of individuals and organizations. These individuals and organizations have significantly contributed to our mission and we are fortunate to have met so many incredible people working as leaders for social change. We created Rebuild360 as a means of communicating these stories and highlighting the work of socially engaging projects, as well as encouraging you to help spread the word by sharing these stories with your friends, colleagues, classmates, and academics. We hope that you will join us in creating a movement of compassion and service within the design community and that you find your own inspiration in our first of many publications!

Sandra Plaza is the founder of Rebuild Global, an advocate of socially responsible design, and a design educator. She spent the last year living and working in India and is currently in Washington D.C. 03


January 2014

Global Studio Re-imagining Inclusive Urbanism: People Building Better Cities Todd Sykes

Global Studio is a place-based, action and research program based in part on the UN Millennium Goals and aims to benefit under-served communities by facilitating bottom-up, collaborative partnerships.

India

“Overall, it was im-

portant to implement projects that would empower the entire community.”

In 2012, I was honored to have been a participant in the Global Studio program hosted by the Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology located in the heart of Bhopal, India. The studio’s theme, “Re-imaging Inclusive Urbanism: People Building Better Cities,” capitalized on participatory design and planning and brought together professionals and students alike from around the globe. Among them were architects, building and sustainability experts, graphic designers, nonprofit professionals as well as mentors and students from India, Africa, Australia, Europe, and the United States. In total, there were three studio projects which took place over a twoweek period and made up the Global Studio initiative, including: (1) Housing Affordability – Inclusive planning for and with the urban poor; (2) Inclusive City Center – Knitting together the new and old Bhopal; and (3) School Plus – Inclusivity (and education) through community engagement. I worked on Studio 3: School Plus, with a government school in the urban village of Prempura, Bhopal.

INTENTION AND APPROACH The goal of the School Plus studio was to develop a feasible design program which included site and infrastructure improvements that would benefit both the school and the community. The program’s development was a result of the collaborative efforts between project volunteers and community members. Inclusivity is Key In keeping with the studio’s theme, “Re-imagining Inclusive Urbanism,” the project relied heavily on meetings with a variety of Prempura stakeholders. This allowed for an open dialogue to occur between parties who otherwise may not have been involved in the design process. It emphasized the importance of each individual of the community – young and old, male and female. If the needs of one demographic are to be met, so then are the needs of another. Each stakeholder shed light on a unique perspective and collectively helped shape the fundamental basis for community projects and initiatives. BUILDING THE BIG IDEA The master plan was informed by a rigorous research phase. Based on the information collected, project goals and action items could be clearly established and defined. These goals resonated with the needs of the community and were enhanced by the project’s inclusive component. They consisted of a variety 05


January 2014


January 2014

Research and site visits are conducted to determine the barriers and challenges to the community. of obvious needs which could be easily implemented to complex and deeply rooted concerns which demanded a more creative approach. In the end, the School Plus program included short, mid, and long-term proposals grouped into the following categories: (1) Improved Sanitation; (2) Sustainable Environment; (3) Recreation; and (4) Empowered Community. 1) Improved Sanitation Effective waste management infrastructure and services impose a major challenge in much of India. Finding ways to improve sanitation and manage waste at and around the school was the single most important goal in the program. The lack of modern and sanitary waste systems created

a multitude of problems which put students and employees of the school and nearby residents at risk for severe health issues. The area behind the school was littered with human waste and the field adjacent to the school was covered in trash. Ultimately, these areas became informal landfills. This posed a serious health risk and created an acrid odor, forcing the school to keep most of the classroom windows closed – the school’s primary source of lighting and ventilation. The school’s waste problem was serious, but it created an educational opportunity which is teaching students about recycling and personal hygiene. To address the waste problem, collaboration efforts with the Bhopal Municipal Corporation were pursued in assisting

with clearing the site. A waste separating system that facilitated easy separation of organic matter and recyclable materials from the trash was envisioned for the school and was included in the final program. By making it easier for cows to dispose of organic matter and pickers to remove the recyclable materials from the community, the overall amount of trash accumulated could significantly be reduced. The school’s wastewater system was also in significant need of attention. Even though the Indian Government requires all schools to have functioning toilets, many poorer schools do not have these basic facilities. Through a partnership with a local civil engineer, a proposal for a decentralized root zone wastewater treatment toilet system was designed. 07


January 2014

Participants propose unique opportunities for community members to participate not only in the design, but in the implementation. This was a cost-effective, natural, and safe way to treat wastewater while protecting groundwater from contamination. From this, a general design and cost proposal was generated and funding sources for the toilet system were sought from public, private, and non-profit organizations.

vision of the students. Additional projects were proposed to facilitate long-term sustainability including a community school garden and a rooftop rainwater harvesting system to help recharge the well, which often goes dry in the summer and creates a very long walk to the lake for many of the local residents.

2) Sustainable Environment

3) Recreation

The environmental concerns of this project were somewhat more complex and multifarious. In addressing them, a vegetated soft boundary made of trees and shrubs was implemented with the community’s help. This vegetated soft boundary was an economical and ecological means to demarcate the schoolyard space, sequester carbon dioxide, provide shade, and bear fruit – a

The recreation component of the design program acknowledged the idea that children need access to sports, outdoor activities, and play. In an effort to respond to this need, a play hill made of soil was designed and implemented through collaborative efforts with the community. Old tires and a re-purposed 2-½-foot diameter reinforced concrete pipe acted as a tunnel and made up the

play hill’s base and staircase. A metal slide fabricated in a sister community via the Global Studio program was also incorporated into the play hill. The village classrooms also presented challenges. Students would spend hours on end hunched over classroom floors due to the lack of writing surfaces. This inspired a simple yet practical prototype for a portable desk which doubled as a book bag. By implementing portable desks, students’ posture and the quality of their schoolwork would significantly improve. 4) Empowered Community Overall, it was important to implement projects that would empower the entire community. This component of the 08


AR

VAN VIH

January 2014

TOILETS R OCATED FO ROOM ALL RASTRUCTURE N INF SANITATIO

VER UNDERCO PORCH

A

EN

AN

SLIDE + TUNNEL

GA

AN

EN

N’S GARD

PAVING

ITY GARD

COMMUN

R OUTDOO SPACE LEARNING

UPGRADED

CHILDRE

SCHOOL SPORTS FIELD

WA

DI WATER WELL SCHOOL BOUNDARY

SCHOOL PLAYFIELD WATER WELL

The master site plan demonstrates the activation of the school site spaces surrounding the government school site. project provided unique opportunities for community members to participate not only in the design, but more importantly, the implementation. In staying true to this idea, several community projects were thought up, including a women’s empowerment stitching program, a children’s educational mural, a community event, and a community logo which would be painted on a building within the community. This not only encouraged a sense of pride and unity, it provided a sense of identity as well.

School Proposal

1:200 at A0 at A2 stitching Theor 1:400 women’s

20

program in particular, was a very bright spot in the program’s development. 50 It was clear that there were women within the Rendering illustrates the development of the school playing field. community who were mnot only capable program was an opportunity to create solutions that exist among its people. It of learning the skills to produce a unique this dynamic change, yet specific enough is about providing the necessary tools product, but were very eager to do so. that it was tailored to the Prempura that enable community members to take Developing stitching skills would allow community and encouraged every initiative and create the life they deserve them to work from home and generate individual to be part of it. and want. supplemental income to help support But beyond this, it is crucial to have their children and families. solid third-party partners who are ENVISIONING THE FUTURE also committed to the vitality of To achieve real and lasting change the community’s future. Support, with such community development mentorship, and funding are all Todd Sykes is a LEED Accredited projects, it is critical to develop strong significant pieces of community Professional who currently serves as the partnerships. The community must be initiatives, and by diversifying the LEED Neighborhood Development Chair an engaged and empowered partner participant pool, lasting change is much for the Detroit Regional Chapter of the in helping to identify the problems and more easily attainable. The Global Studio USGBC. 09


January 2014

A Trip with Rebuild Global in Kenya Humanitarian Design in the Studio: A Student’s Perspective Tony Salamone

Kenya

“. . the idea of escap-

ing the encasement of studio life and traveling the world is extremely compelling.”

Architecture students in general are notoriously busy with studio and seemingly unmanageable deadlines. For me, it is more of an obsession with qualitative data, diagrams, drawings and renderings. During this time of intense study also comes the freedom to explore, learn, and question; it is an exciting stage in life and in our early careers. Access to new and different opportunities are abundant, and the idea of escaping the encasement of studio life and traveling the world is extremely compelling. It is truly remarkable what one can gain from experiential education at a critical point such as in a student’s discourse. As a student of the NewSchool of Architecture + Design, San Diego, I am interested in design and the transformational power of architecture. I am constantly challenging traditional ideas and thought, and I’m always on the search for new and exciting opportunities that allow me to make a contribution to others less fortunate. It turns out, I am not the only one who feels this way. One day in studio, I overheard a conversation about a volunteer opportunity through Rebuild Global. Upon hearing about this particular opportunity, I eagerly approached the organization’s founders Sandra Plaza and Brian Will, also NewSchool graduates. I sat down with them, intrigued from what little information I already knew about the organization’s background and the

programs it supports, and explained to Sandra and Brian my vision to take students to a developing country and to design something there – anything. Sandra and Brian were extremely supportive and receptive to my ideas and laid out a few achievable options. Within minutes, we were planning a trip to Kenya in partnership with Village Volunteers. The planning process, while exciting, demanded a great deal of time, persistence, and effort to gather fellow students, fundraise, and coordinate. But with the right state of mind, the right people on the job, and some help from the community, a partially-funded, threeweek trip to Kenya was made possible for six students including myself. My trip to Kenya in summer of 2012 transformed into what seemed to me an unorthodox design studio with many surprises and several unique learning experiences along the way. GETTING TO KNOW THE COMMUNITY The first week of our trip was spent with a Kenyan native named Emmanuel Leina Tasur. Emmanuel has been an active member and role model of the local Maasai community since his childhood. It was his ambition and vision for a better life for his fellow people which ultimately gave young children in his community an opportunity to attend school. Had it not been for Emmanuel’s life-long efforts, the Sirua Aulo Academy would have never 10


January 2014

“Emmanual expressed hope that his vision

would help educate visitors of the unfortunate reality of the Maasai Mara people - one which is not currently known by many.�


January 2014

Participants of the program take a break from assisting with the design and construction of facilities at the Sirua Aulo Academy. been built. During our time with Emmanuel at Sirua Aulo Academy, we observed the students interacting with teachers and conducted interviews to gain a better sense of the students’ needs and their culture in general. Prior to organizing and starting the Sirua Aulo Academy, young students faced long, difficult walks to schools miles from their homes and on uneven and oftentimes flooded roads. Besides giving these students a place to learn basic skills, the Sirua Aulo Academy alleviated many of the hardships associated with not having a school close by. Part of our assignment at Sirua Aulo Academy was to help construct a new dining hall. This was our time to familiarize ourselves with Kenya’s vernacular and contemporary building typologies which

proved to be instrumental in preparing us for the more intense portion of our trip which would ensue in the weeks ahead. It was a transition and learning period. The trip was also filled with a rare opportunity to learn about the rich culture and history of the Maasai Mara Reserve. We were taken on a private safari led by our mentor, Emmanuel. He shared with us his dream of one day implementing a self-sustaining tourism hostel which would house tourists and include personal safaris. The funds from this vision would enable him to make substantial monetary contributions to the community in an effort to build more schools and roads. Emmanuel also spoke of the Maasai Mara’s devastating circumstances

brought on by political corruption. The beautiful land that once belonged to the Maasai Mara people now belonged to the Kenyan Government, for which the Maasai Mara people did not receive any compensation for. Today, millions of people fly into Nairobi and travel via commuter planes over the impoverished region of southern Kenya and into the Maasai Mara Plains without ever stepping foot into the communities just outside the park gates. Emmanual expressed hope that his vision would help educate visitors of the unfortunate reality of the Maasai Mara people - one which is not currently known by many. After an unforgettable experience with Emmanuel and the Maasai Mara, we traveled to the small village of Kiminini just outside of Kitale. Here we arrived at 12


January 2014

The team of students, Tony Salamone, Geoff Curzon, Samantha Wellnitz, Titus Dimson, Jeff Taitano and Christian Garcia facilitate in the development of a sports facility while embracing new cultures and communities in Kenya. Pathfinder Academy, a primary school that served mainly young orphans and vulnerable students. We were greeted by Joshua Machinga of Common Ground for Africa, a community-based organization that works to fight poverty. He expressed a similar infectious enthusiasm and appreciation and devoted his life to his community and country. Joshua was another individual with an unwavering passion to serve others, particularly those of the Kitale community. Upon our arrival at the Pathfinder Academy, we received a tour of the facility and an overview of the many community projects Joshua had undertaken. One of the most beneficial projects was a water filter system called Cera Maji, which provides a three-year supply of clean drinking water to Kenyans

at an affordable price. The project is interesting in that it uses an innovative design system which incorporates clay pots, sawdust, and bio-intensive farming solutions – all accessible and practical resources of the Kitale community. The conclusion of our tour took place at the 1½-acre site of what would be the school’s future sports complex – the main reason for our trip. Joshua explained that the students who were interested in running track on a competitive level would have to travel six to eight hours to Nairobi to be evaluated, making it nearly impossible for many students to compete. The limited number of students who were able to travel and be evaluated created an overwhelming sense of despair in the community, especially among those who had a

dream of competing. This was where Joshua and our team of students saw an opportunity, and it was where our real work began. Our assignment: to design and begin construction of the “Kick it Sports Academy.” Joshua’s vision for the project was an ambitious one, with a goal of having the concrete poured in just a matter of days. So we went to work. BRINGING THE VISION TO LIFE We filled every last minute of the trip pushing to actualize Joshua’s vision. Much of our time was spent interviewing students and community members, researching construction methods, creating material palettes, and participating in design charrettes. Through these various activities of rigorous research and iterative design sessions we were able to produce a 13


January 2014

Titus Dimson, a participant of Rebuild Global’s program, takes a quick snapshot with school children. schematic design and construction schedule for the school sports complex. It was important for us to actualize not only Joshua’s vision, but that of the students as well. After conducting interview after interview, we concluded that it was important to the students to have a space that could serve multiple purposes and facilitate several types of sports activities. We proposed a design that included a recreation center and two changing rooms, which were to be constructed out of concrete, masonry, corrugated tin, and eucalyptus. The eucalyptus would be cut and milled from the site then skinned with a gabion module made of crushed local aggregate and welded wire mesh. The design also included a 200-meter track and field, an indoor-size soccer field as well as volleyball, tennis, and basketball courts. While we knew that this sports complex was going to be monumental for the Kitale community, we also learned that it would be the first sports complex of its kind in all of Western Kenya, an accomplishment we felt special to be a part of. Upon completion of the sports complex, the facility would serve as a checkpoint for sporting activity trials and could facilitate sport training activities

for several schools in the region. With the help of additional volunteers and funders, the Kick it Sports Academy could help these students pursue and reach their athletic dreams.

“While we knew that

this sports complex was going to be monumental for the Kitale community, we also learned that it would be the first sports complex of its kind in all of Western Kenya, an accomplishment we felt special to be a part of. ”

Tony Salamone is a fourth year architecture student at the NewSchool of Architecture and Design and the vice president of the San Diego Student Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. 14


January 2014

HELLOREBUILD360 Spreading the Word About Socially Responsible Design, One Story at a Time

Upgrade of a Technical Teachers’ College in Northern Uganda A blog post written by Acellam Benard for hellorebuild360.wordpress.com January 6, 2014

Kenya Uganda

“I

also desire that our proposals may not only make a contribution to local and regional concerns but become a pillar towards the realization of the school’s vision .”

The introduction of Universal Primary Education (UPE) in 1997 was one of the Ugandan government’s main policy tools for achieving poverty reduction and human development. Its core objective was to provide the facilities and resources to enable every child to enter and remain in school until the primary cycle of education was complete. The UPE program in Uganda demonstrated that a poor country with a committed government and donor support could fight poverty through ensuring universal access to education for its citizens (odi. org.uk). To build on the success of this scheme, the government introduced universal secondary education; but critics argued that the theory based approach in both schemes was not responsive to the actual needs of a developing country since students were trained to be job seekers. What are the available options? During mid-November last year I visited Abilonino Polytechnic instructors’ college in the Kole District of Northern Uganda. As a team of architecture students from Makerere University we were led by a Dutch architect. Our challenge was to research, consult and propose designs for new facilities for the college. The campus is due to be given a major facelift under project collaboration between the Ministry of Education & Sports and the Belgian Technical Co-operation. Twenty kilometers west of Lira town we branched left from the highway on a

muddy road that crossed a large swamp. Occasionally the bus danced on the slippery murrum; we dragged on. Smiling children on the roadside, stooping adults working their gardens all waved and cheered us on. I would wave back, beaming with soulful exhilaration. There is something about rural landscapes and the countryside that speaks to my spirit. The communities there were primarily subsistent agriculturalists and homesteaders. I was having a great time, but the road had undoubtedly given us a first hint of some of the challenges that the college has had to cope with. The guided tour of the college lasted almost two hours. I was gobsmacked by the inadequacy of learning facilities - astonished by their dilapidated state. At the administration block, the vision statement stands boldly on the front façade: “To be an international center of excellence in technical teachers’ education and training.” I wonder how much of that vision has been accomplished. The college buildings were clustered around open rectangular courtyards which felt rather authoritative and less contemplative. At the staff room, a group of tutors were seated around, their faces buried in books or laptops. One bespectacled tutor mumbled a simple ‘hello’ to us. The room doubled as a boardroom and dining area for the staff. The space seemed to be optimally 15


January 2014 utilized and acoustically alive. The next two rooms on the same block were allocated for a carpentry workshop and building materials lab. On the inside these rooms were but empty. “There isn’t a library,” our guide said emphatically. There was a store, then three more halffurnished classroom units. At the end of the block lied a computer laboratory accommodating 10 desktop computers rarely used by students. The building had naked brick walls; mosses grew wildly on the damp, exposed plinth walls. I figured it was perhaps due to a simple construction flaw of missing splash aprons. Some classrooms do not have windows or doors so interiors become extremely uncomfortable during inclement weather. It was a quarter past one when we headed to the dormitory section. Some students were in the compound doing laundry. This section had a single block divided into five units; four of these were for male students. Each unit had an open-plan room with two rows of double-decked beds; I thought this only happened in elementary boarding schools. Where is the privacy? Rooms were exceedingly congested. How about safety? The air inside was suffocating because most windows were blocked by beds. An aroma of boiling meat mingled in the air. It began to tickle my nose from the direction of the kitchen; it was Saturday and beef was on the menu. Beyond the kitchen there were accommodation units for senior staff; beyond that were school farms. We passed by a piggery, a poultry house. In the garden were cabbages, watermelons, maize, cauliflowers, tomatoes, and weeds that sprung forth, fruiting beautifully (except for the weeds). I never saw fields that looked or smelled so fresh. The vast green was punctuated by the darkish, coarse-grained, and loamy soil. Wind seeped through the eucalyptus trees at the boundary of each garden in horizontal gusts. Our guide made an expected announcement: the gardens often supply the kitchens. “This school could become a quintessential model of

self-sustainability,” I thought to myself. I conjured up images of a campus capable of supplying its kitchens with food from its gardens. I envisioned solar panels on the roofs of classroom blocks capable of being completely naturally ventilated. I saw biogas plants on the periphery of the school, running on plant and animal residues collected within. I pictured tractors tiling the school land. With mechanization the college’s agricultural productivity could be rapidly scaled up and surpluses sold to the community. The principles of permaculture would definitely work here. Permaculture is an ecological design system for sustainability in all aspects of human endeavor; it teaches us how to build natural homes, grow our own food, catch rainwater, and build communities. At the moment students share a borehole with the surrounding community. The water supply has become intermittent because the water table has changed. It is sheer bravery for these students to hang on in this situation because the borehole is located 300m away from the school premises. Yet in the wet season decent rains fall in this area. Could the new designs provide for rain water harvesting and storage? Could we tap into the wind energy to drive the water pumps? We were headed back to the staff room. Midway a group of male students sat lazily, others perhaps legitimately on chiseled logs placed under an elaborate, indigenous fruit tree. The intensity of their voices plummeted as we drew nearer. These spaces are dubbed ‘embassies’ and are dotted across the entire courtyard. The culture of embassies was very unique to this school’s social fabric and we looked forward to celebrating them through our designs. Each ‘embassy’ accommodates meetings of groups of students from a particular tribe or region in Uganda, offering a platform for both casual and formal conversations. For the former, topics range from local politics to international sports (mainly European football). Speaking without notes, with an authority and clarity that silenced his

Abilonino Polytechnic College audience, a student addressed his mates. Other students were in the multipurpose hall relaxing and slaying the passage of time; their minds and bodies tuned to MTV Base. The existing problem at Abilonino Polytechnic College appeared to be one of mammoth proportion. But I saw immense possibilities of turning these problems into opportunities and forging solutions. Even after the design stage there might still be long walks through policy nags and implementation huddles but the window of possibilities has now sprung open. My desire is that as students we may produce proposals that engage with issues beyond the brief, produce architecture that transcends the specifications of the site. I also desire that our proposals may not only make a contribution to local and regional concerns, but become a pillar toward the realization of the school’s vision. Hopefully this college will begin to challenge the current social mindset that portrays vocational training as an option for academic failures or a last resort for those who cannot afford a higher education.

Acellam Benard is a student of Architecture at Makerere University in Kampala. He is a volunteer writer for Rebuild Global’s blog and currently resides in Uganda. 16


January 2014

LOOKING FOR AN ADVENTURE? JOIN US FOR ANY ONE OF OUR PROJECT TRIPS OVERSEAS IN

AFRICA, INDIA OR GUATEMALA! VISIT REBUILDGLOBAL.ORG


January 2014

Thank you! We hope you enjoyed our first issue! Our goal is to reach out to as many students and young professionals in the field of architecture and design who have a passion to work on socially responsible projects while improving the lives of others. We have partnered with a number of host organizations across the world and as a result have launched an international program that allows you, as a participant, to travel overseas and spend two weeks or more with any one of our host partners in Africa, India or Guatemala. If you are ready for an adventure, we’d love for you to join us. As a student participant you will be eligible to receive IDP (Intern Development Program) hours or college credit depending on your university or institution. As a professional, your skills and expertise are of great value in solving some of the world’s most challenging problems related to housing, education, sanitation, health, food, and water. Visit rebuildglobal.org for more details and information. This publication is brought to you by volunteers of Rebuild Global. Help us spread the word and make a difference by sharing these stories with your friends, colleagues and classmates. A special thanks to all our contributing writers and Judith Lambotte for her assistance in the design and layout of this publication. We hope to hear from you and we look forward to sharing our next issue! Our team @

:)

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Rebuild360 - January 2014 - Design+Community  

The online publication of Rebuild Global highlighting the work and stories of architects and designers working on humanitarian projects from...

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