Community Architects for Shelter and Environment

Community Architects for Shelter and Environment

March-April 2007: ASA 50, Thailand This 3-week workshop, organized by CASE for The Association of Siamese Architects (ASA), was carried out simultaneously in 4 market communities along the Pravet-Bureerum Canal linking three provinces of Bangkok, Samutprakarn and Chacheongsao. The four markets along this once vibrant waterside were used as accommodations for the workshop as well as being the sites. Each group spent the two weeks living amidst their projects from Klong Luang, Klong Preng, Klong Jao to Klong Suan. In this way, the students started to gain an understanding that could not be had from simply visiting the communities. The work from this workshop was then displayed as part of ‘ASA 50’ at Impact Muang Thong Thani in May.

January 2007: Building Community, Bangkok In collaboration with ASF-UK, CASE hosted this international ASF Winter workshop in Bangkok, Thailand. Its participants, 30 in all – a third being native to the country, were introduced, or re-introduced, to Bangkok as well as the way they see their roles as architects.

As is often the case, an architect enters a community, profess to know it all and then come up with a proposal that will ‘improve’ their living conditions. This workshop intended to show exactly how to understand a community and their unique sets of opportunities (for, of course, all problems are also considered ‘opportunities’ here). It is also to highlight the issue of ‘time’, as to what can be achieved within a 2-week period. Starting from the city scale, the workshop ended dividing into two groups, each concentrating on one of the two communities; one an old market community that has suffered. The workshop encouraged each participant to learn to observe without prejudice, ask questions and be persistent about finding the answer and following it through; but most important of all, to have an open mind.

September 2005: Building Community, UK Patama and Supitcha of CASE were workshop leaders and course designers for ASF Summer Schools at the Eden Project, the first of its kind in UK. In the space of two weeks, students and qualified architects alike were put through the pace of how a community could be formed.

On a minuscule piece of land in the Eden Project, each group fought for their shares, a process not dissimilar from getting a good seat on a low-cost airline i.e. a scramble. Then began the process of trying to build what they dreamt of using the limited available materials, courtesy of Eden’s Waste Management Team!! Negotiation, compromise and collaboration were only some of the lessons learnt all round.

A good night sleep inside their own creations was enough to bind them to stand against the tractor teasingly attempting to pull down their ‘shacks’!

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