talking through the design on-site

06.04.13 | day fourteen building community iii

Having prepared for several days together with the teachers; Leika, Himanshu and Belu made sure that today’s event was a real success. The aim of todays community workshop was to communicate the design of the toilets that the participants and the teachers have been developing over the past two weeks. Also, to follow up on the previous workshop where the families designed a master plan for the school a modified drawing was presented for discussion. Here’s an account of the last day of the NTNU / AA Visiting School from Himanshu Mam:

It was referred to as the finale of the visiting school phase but ideally it was the beginning by all means . On continuing with the task of brick laying for the columns , our very dear masons and labourers seemed to enjoy every bit of their synchronicity with the Ramboll superheroes !
After an interesting  presentation by Sourabh Phadke the previous evening, completion of the cob wall became all the more intriguing for Anne’s group who were quite skilfully engrossed in setting and sculpting the wall and reinforcing it with bamboo for it to structurally suffice for an alcove with a sitting bench laid in stone. Meanwhile Alex headed some of us for the plinth infill job,  Ivar & Kritika were discussing the installation of the Septic tank with the plumbing team.

After a fulfilling lunch, the mock-up groups  continued with their final finishing, be it the mud plastering or the brick jali ( lattice)  alternatives. As a matter of preparing the material for the workshop finale, Leika was organizing the making of display boards for the workshop which comprised of the sketched imagery of an ideal school visualized by the parents and also the current master plan drafted by Belu. Quite significantly, the latter has been evolved primarily from the inputs offered by the community of parents and teachers so far and it shall still be open to suggestions and modifications, which forms the main focus of the upcoming event.

The teachers, who had to be at the forefront of the event, communicating our process and progress with design, gathered for a brief discussion minutes before the event. Finally, the ground was all set, slowly the numbers increased from a few to a many. The workshop began with a prayer song sung beautifully by the teachers followed by a brief introduction in ” hindi ” by all of us. Our teachers took charge and began the discussion, showing the current master plan as opposed to each of the previous images drawn by the parents, quite assertively mentioning about their inputs that have been fundamental in forming the current plan draft. The factors addressed were, a secluded location of toilets from the main classroom corridor, a U-type plan having a central open space/courtyard with a stage for performances and the classrooms arranged around it, a flagstaff  for patriotic events and a hand-pump for washing and cleaning, ventilated classrooms flanked by a shaded corridor, a kitchen garden for growing vegetables, fruits and flowers and a park for playing and recreation. The parents were quite convinced and happy to see the efforts gone into the making.

Simultaneously, the teachers also declared the plan open for any further modifications and we saw some coming our way,  like having a space for a notice board on the entrance being the first one, followed by having an office and a staff room on the ground floor, and an entrance door in every classroom adjacent to the blackboard wall. The toilet being constructed as a part of the first phase, was the next topic of discussion. Parents had requested for an exclusive toilet for staff and guests, proper ventilation and separate entry points for both the boys and girls toilet, which were quite well taken care of, according to the final toilet plan.

Just before everyone was fed with delicious sweet balls, popularly known as besan laddu, the teachers delivered one of the most important message to the entire village community, which was,  a dire need for their participation and involvement in the building process of  the remaining phases. They also emphasized on the fact that this school is entire community’s  dream, and the workshop team has initiated the process of its translation into an acceptable reality, but now it’s their turn to join hand in hand and make the building come into space.

Sun was setting down and we were all excited for a small informal gathering which was organised for teachers at our homely terrace. From the savoury samosas, to thirst quenching pepsi, cultures and cultures were face to face, each enjoying their festive bit. Whether it was Gauri’s classical dance, or  the Norwegian choir, Ankita’s melody or Jostein’s stunts, Sarvamangala’s musical surprise or Belu’s song, all went in vain.
An experience of an interactive journey filled with exchange of knowledge, leading to learning, followed by experimentation and application, consistently sufficed by an outpour of invaluable support and hospitality on behalf of the entire Hariharpur community, is what WORKSHOP Architecture has offered us. And truly, the whole experience is marked in our memory for the years to come.