Art, Urbanism, Architecture: Cultural space-making in Bosnia
Geographically and historically, Bosnia Herzegovina is at the centre of Europe. Recently, however, it has suffered vicious wars and still struggles with its ethnic and political divisions. These social, economic and spatial challenges alongside Bosnia Herzegovina's traditional position as link between Asian and central European cultures are an extreme of those faced by many other cities throughout Europe. Today, most building activity in Bosnia is either reconstruction or part of the highly commercial construction boom in Sarajevo, which leaves little space for consideration of the qualities of public space or a more long-term sustainable approach to urbanism.
Simultaneously, a thriving arts and culture scene has emerged not only in Sarajevo, but also in regional centres such as Mostar, Tuzla and Banja Luka. The initiators of these projects, ranging from independent cinemas to cultural centres curating exhibitions, see this cultural production as a catalyst to create a shared conversation between the different communities. Spatially, only dispersed interventions, often strongly linked to an arts background, at times attempt to match the impact and catalyst function of the many cultural initiatives.
Shamoon Patwari, Bo Tang and Stefanie Rhodes used the Boyd Auger Scholarship to investigate new architecture and the emerging urbanism in Bosnia Herzegovina and focus on the potential of these cultural projects to inform and negotiate spatial and urban strategies in the region. The process and outcome of their investigations and research was presented through the exhibition at the Dream Space gallery in London.
Stefanie Rhodes studied architecture at Sheffield University and at London Metropolitan University, from where she graduated with the Professional Diploma in Architecture with Distinction in summer 2008. Her academic portfolio includes design work in India for which she received a prize from the American Institute of Architects and, as self-directed thesis project, a spatial framework for cultural initiatives in Brussels. During her studies she has worked in a wide range of architectural and art-based practices in London, Paris and Brussels. Other engagements include her work with the London Metropolitan University Architecture Society for which she received the Derek Osbourne Memorial Prize and her membership of the German National Merit Foundation.
Bo Tang studied at the Bartlett School of Architecture. She has previously worked for Panter Hudspith Architects on the Oxford Castle Heritage project.
She completed her Diploma in Architecture with distinction at London Metropolitan University. Her fifth-year thesis was focused around rediscovering Haveli ruins in old Delhi; using dilapidated ruins as a model for the preservation of culture and heritage by creating modern indigenous spaces that embrace a sense of the past with aspirations for the future.
Shamoon Patwari graduated with a BA (Hons) in Architecture from the University of Liverpool. Since 2002 he has worked within the realm of social sciences, in particular working with social workers dealing with urban issues surrounding child welfare, mental health and youth projects. In 2005 he started work for Architects for Aid (now Article 25), which deals with using British-trained architects as volunteers for international development work with local NGOs. Projects include an Open Learning School in Goa, a crèche centre for prostitutes with children in Mozambique and a Traditional Crafts University in Kabul.
His fifth-year final thesis at London Metropolitan University, completed in June 2008, dealt with the modernisation of traditional Haveli typologies in the centre of Old Delhi looking at creating a new form of community-based architecture based around courtyard developments.
He is also an active member of ASF (Architects Sans Frontieres), which deals with international knowledge and skills-based training for those interested in working in the development sector.
Current works (Shamoon + Bo)
Having studied settlements in rural Agra for their first Diploma year, both Bo and Shamoon were recruited through the university and the Water Trust during summer 2007 to work upon a live project in Agra based around the sanitation upgrade of a rural settlement on the banks of the Yamuna opposite the Taj Mahal. This two-month ongoing project involved liaising with Indian NGO, CURE (Centre for Urban and Regional Excellence), detailing the method of construction for individual septic tanks, project managing suppliers and manufacturers and creating a funding system that is now used successfully.
Following on from the success of this project, Bo and Shamoon were contracted post-Diploma by the Water Trust for a further year (2008 - 09) to extend the Agra project further to design and implement a Decentralised Waste Water Treatment System (DEWATS) and build a community/tourist toilet facility.
In addition, they are presently working on a project west of Delhi dealing with a vast resettlement colony, in which they are setting up a resource centre to guide best practice in self-build housing initiatives. They have also been charged with a project in Navi Mumbai dealing with the design of some community/educational facilities for low-income communities based within several stone quarries on the outskirts of the new city.