Spurred by the larger questions of a village safeguarding its identity as it gets enveloped by a city, a group of budding architects who were part of a workshop at CEPT University on Thursday ended up creating a mural and a children’s playground at Ambli village located on the outskirts of Ahmedabad district.
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The project ‘Developing People’s Places’ done by a group of 8 young architects– who were amongst the 1600 odd students from various architecture schools– participating in the 10 day biennale event ‘Archiprix International 2017’. The event will showcases young talent that is currently being hosted by CEPT university in Ahmedabad since February 1.
A student Jennifer Mcmaster from Sydney said that the group used a ‘participatory design’ to zero in on possible projects to create ‘community areas’ between the village and city. These projects led to the students creating a ‘village mural’ on a village wall at one of the shared spaces of both communities , blackboards or village message boards and a playground outside the village.
“Even with the influx of a megacity on it we wanted to explore the micronarrative of a village life and look at ways to retain its identity in the 10 days. In Ambli the association the people have with their village is very strong. They still perform ‘Bhavai or street theatre, whereas this is not done in Vastrapur-another area in Ahmedabad city,” said Zuzana Jancovicova, a student from Netherlands.
While adhering to traditional values and respecting community sentiments it was a challenge for the group to come with viable projects and create these ‘community areas’. “While two communities live in Ambli Village and respect each other but never interact, except for one day in the year when a traditional play is performed in the village. As architects we wanted to start a process and ideas and after deliberation with the 2 communities of Patels and Thakores in Ambli we came up with a few interventions,” added Zuzana Jancovicova.
The group had to maneuver around unwritten boundaries between communities that belonged to different castes, she said. “We (the group) spent days in the village, observing the daily routine of people living there, talking to them, participating in daily events, playing with the children, organizing a drawing workshop before coming up with these interventions,”said Zuzana Jancovicova.
The group explained how the village folk aided in intervention by pitching in the construction of the playground and in painting the ‘mural’, thereby asserting its shared ownership as a village. Another group member Filippo Fanciotti from Genova said that the project helped throw up questions on the role of the architect in participatory design and helped the students identify parameters like initiate action, advocate for change, facilitate discussion and introduce ideas for the community.