The student led humanitarian initiative ‘Build Our Nation’ has begun a two-week workshop as part of the Biennale Sessions 13th International Architecture Exhibition. Through workshops and events students are collaborating to explore and experiment with ideas, discuss and connect internationally, and build an empathy and awareness for altruistic design issues. Sixty students from four Universities – Robert Gordon University (Scotland), Milano Politecnico (Italy), Universitat Roviravigili Reus (Spain) and ETSAB (Spain) – have made their way to Venice to take part in the 4th Stage of the project. Situated in the Arsenale, between the Italian pavilion and the Chinese Pavilion, the workshop will invite the public to walk through and interact with the students as they work towards the culmination of one and a half years collaboration. Focusing on the research areas of non-verbal communication, social characteristics of a participatory project and the technical aspects of a self-build project for women.
Taifa Letu Tujenge is the first project under the umbrella of Build Our Nation that involves architecture students internationally in designing a women’s community centre for an area in The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The ultimate goal of this project is to see the community center being built in the DRC, through working with hundreds of students internationally, locally in the DRC, and alongside the women who will be using the building.
The multipurpose center aims to promote interaction and activities for local women, from different backgrounds (rural, urban, peripheral, etc) as well as reducing the difficulty of inequalities in income and employment opportunities. It could be a catalyst for social change and should be a participatory and innovative action for the province in the new democratic period.
Stage 1 (April 2011) kick started with when over 200 students from 4 universities across Europe participated in the first workshop, a one-day esquisse to begin conceptualising the center. The event institutions were linked via video link as well as a blog that was used by all the students throughout the day to share all of their ideas, research and development. This massive open collaboration let ideas evolve quickly, and set the tone for the entire project.
Stage 2 (May 2011) was held in Milan where 30 students were invited from the original 200 participants. Prior to this event the final concept of Stage 1 were sent to the D.R.C. and presented to the local women who, selected they option they felt would benefit their situation in the greatest fashion. The students worked intensively over two days to work further into all aspects of the concept to create the first ‘design’ of Build Our Nation.
Stage 3 (March 2012) concentrated on in depth research facilitating future progression, through interviewing professionals with years of experience working in a similar situation to Build Our Nation. The stage culminated in presentations from each institution and an online discussion with the head of Action Solidaire pour la Femme Paysanne (ASFP) Marie Gorette direct from the D.R.C.
Communication directly with the ASFP continues to be a vital element of the project and has critically developed the course of the final research areas on our build up towards the Biennale.
If your in Venice, be sure to stop by the workshop this weekend, as it will conclude on September 14 with a public presentation of the work at 14:00.
via Build Our Nation