A few months ago the Sri Lankan aid organisation “S.T.E.P.S.” contacted the IRGE of the University in Stuttgart and asked if the students would like to develop a concept including a realizing strategy for an education and meeting place in eastern Sri Lanka, called “LANKA LEARNING CENTER”. Both sides aimed to work together in the long way, in which the students go through all steps of the building process, from the first few sketches, the designing of models and plans, up to the realisation.
By getting a plot of land “S.T.E.P.S. of forgiveness” e.V. and “People Helping People Foundation” created the foundation for the “LANKA LEARNING CENTER” project. A place of promoting freedom through meeting and education should be founded here, where people of all ages, ethnicity and religions can come together peacefully. The famous children’s festival, which has taken place since 2010, is said to be the key project that can convince all people of the meaning and feasibility of this inter-cultural and inter-religious idea.
A place should now be built, that can be a Symbol, where it is celebrated, played and worked, where kids take lessons and youths get an education, where many further education and language courses take place or conflict training and discussions can be held. Additionally, a rehabilitation centre for the psychological treatment of traumatised people can be offered.
The project shall be designed from the beginning by the students, together with the people in Sri Lanka. In order to succeed, it is important that all participants can identify themselves with the project through their input of knowledge and abilities.
The aim is to make as much as possible out of local motivation and ideas and to work with the villagers, as well as with local materials, methods and techniques. This serves as acceptance and identification: the project shall not be “completely imported”, but evolve out of societies middle. A defined aim is that the project starts from state zero, “Programming”, up to the finishing and usage stage, accompanied by the locals, the future users, the volunteers and students.
The project with such a long duration guarantees high learning possibilities for the students as well as a responsible use by the early integration of the future users.
Working on this international aid-project offers a lot of possibilities to develop and deepen political and individual skills:
– facing relevant political and social backgrounds and analysing the effects on direction and planning of the project
– searching for particular sustaining architectural solutions due to few available resources
– developing responsible awareness for architectural adequacy and quality
– researching and using of regional materials and their new interpretations
– supporting an aid project by self initiative
– communicating over barriers and documentation on the same project base for sharing and saving knowledge on both sides
– going through the participative planning process from the beginning of the strategic and demand planning, up to the built object with experiences in all planning stages
– direct contact with the construction team and users
Through the setting of the task it is possible for the students to connect many functional and factual aspects with a social level and strengthen the belief and the significance of their own discipline by this. Architecture can make a difference.