Phase 1 – Investigation, collecting knowledge, learn to use the tools of analysis
The students started the plan with a discussion of the critical factors which influence and shape that place. Along with topics like “war”, “peace”, “crisis” and “religion” the situation in Sri Lanka was investigated and an understanding developed. After this, topics and aspects, whose research should have given a good basic knowledge for the student’s plan, was collected through brainstorming in an internal workshop. This acquired knowledge is grounded on four core topics:
Functions, brief, conceptual and strategic models, user concepts, construction stages
Local building tradition, specific building in Sri Lanka today, tsunami and monsoon safety, practicability, cost estimate and deadline dependency through local conditions
Climatic circumstances, regional sustainability and ecological concepts, rainwater collection and utilisation, integration of agriculture for sub-subsistence farming
Workshop strategies, participation methods, communication and representation media
Alongside this a “roundtable” workshop with guests was organised. The relevant topics for the project were presented through spontaneous lectures and discussed afterwards. Through this, the students were awakened to all stages and aspects of the project with the first requisition through participative methods, along with ecological concepts, construction principles and material science.
PHASE 2 – learning to know the building culture, visiting the location, workshops, determining the requirements
The excursion provided a route from the historical sites of earlier generations that are claimed to be a world cultural heritage to incunabula of the local modernity, where the students learned to know the local building tradition and take it as an inspiration. The various objects were presented by the students through short presentations. As preparation to phase 3 of the plan insights into the building process and the material conversion in local craft enterprises were gained. By experiencing the local building tradition the students gained an understanding for scaling, materiality and coincidence and carried these skills forward in their plans. Producibility in terms of local personal contribution plays a major role. The construction of the building and the dimensioning of the buildings’ elements have to be geared to a human scale and be chosen so that all local participants are able to construct the buildings without any great previous knowledge or additional technological efforts.
The students moderate the workshops with 80 representatives of all ethnic and social groups in Batticaloa. By intensive preparation of the different topics, which are discussed in small groups to overcome inhibitions, all members can take place in the workshops and can partake in very personal talks, partly in very excited discussions which enrich the knowledge and understanding of the students and to answer questions as well as verify and contemplate theoretical researches.
The stated aim of the workshops to include all groups within the region, if possible additionally on the state level, so they can express their needs and ideas, can be called successful.
By realising their own skills within a planning and designing process the participants were strengthened and developed the motivation to become responsible for the transformation and conversion of the chosen ideas.
PHASE 3 – developing the concept, designing stage, working it out and presentation
After coming back from Sri Lanka the gained insights and experiences were structured and worked up. From the knowledge they collected the different concepts and spatial projections were “distilled”. Through the things they experienced and found out, an emotional and by that a very deep discussion of the wishes and needs of the users occurred and shaped the approach to the design task.
In weekly reviews the stages of the development from every single project were discussed, from the first usage concept of the area, the master plan, the spatial design with statements to materiality and construction up to the financial aspects of the management, the stages of realisation and sustainable energy concepts.
The results are eight projects, of which every single one transfers the defining factors of the context and the wishes of the users into a place appropriate architecture.
This appropriation means not only the sensible use of resources, but also the standard of practicability, by understanding the local motivations and capacities.