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Improvised architectural responses to the changing climate; making, sharing and communicating design processes

Tumpa Fellows, Mannan Foundation Trust and University of Westminster

Awards RIBA President's Awards for Research 2019
Category Building in Quality (Annual Theme)

The Rajapur Community Building for Women's Literacy and Healthcare: The Rajapur Centre completed and being used by the community. ©Tumpa Fellows

This paper reviews a community focused project in a remote village in Bangladesh, the Rajapur Community Building for Women’s Literacy and Healthcare or the Rajapur Centre. Exploring the role of a UK-based architect, through an environmental lens, in the context of social, cultural and economic sustainability.

This live practice-based research provides an opportunity to understand, explicate and share these largely unspoken, undocumented and often very local methods and networks of knowledge, that exist and are practiced by the communities living in rural Bangladesh, who are addressing the already damaged climate and its rapid changes.

The research is a reflection of the experience of practicing architecture through end-user participation and the co-designing of the project the Rajapur Centre. One of the most significant consequences of this method of practising architecture is that this enabled the identification and communication of the kinds of existing methods of adaptation and architectural practices that address the issues of responding to the rapid changing climate of the riparian characteristics of Bangladesh. The collection of information took the process of community workshops, through interviews, meetings, performance-based activities, transforming to drawing, making and building with the communities of the Rajapur village.

The research highlights the experimental practices that enables the participants to initiate improvised methods of local, specific, tactic immediately disappearing knowledge. These methods of participation aim to challenge and to expand the narrow range of possibilities that currently characterize approaches to the subject of architecture through participation. More specifically, investigates the process of drawing out local skills that facilitates an inclusive team, giving voice to all community members (including the skills and support from men, women and children), that empowers the community. This research aims to demonstrate the value of co-design and collective design intelligence through local craft in addressing the challenges of the changing climate.

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