To reflect on the Bangkok trip I first try to go backwards from now: The last report includes our collective learning from the trip and so does the post-fieldtrip presentation; the trip itself was eye-and-mind-opening in many ways (group, bangkok and project) and all the reading and knowledge we were trying to gather and analyse beforehand started making sense in an easier and clearer way on the ground while of course building on the theory. Then the trip is also building on the two presentations before and the sessions by DPU staff and other practitioners as well as on the other two terms of the MSc that the trip is connected with. There is also another trip to Bangkok a while ago and other places that I travelled to which I catch myself comparing to in terms of communities’ living conditions, climate, history and culture and speculating how this program or another CODI could work there. So right now, there are a a huge amount of connections between places, times, people, ideas and decisions made during the process that need to be filtered more and synthesized.
To go forward from now: there is still the interview this week (not to mention the dissertation) and answering the question for myself of how to work after this year.
The last remarks of Soomsook – after a whole range of quote-worthy ways of expressing how CODI and the B.M. program works, with a talent of making things sound so simple – were intended for us as transforming/becoming practitioners and the freedom she sees in the development process that we witnessed:
“This demand driven, community driven process is (…) a very powerful process. I have been thinking many times [that it creates a new freedom to let the people lead the development process.] But it becomes like a loosing battle because the whole world is dominated by the development concept in which the supply side plans (…) for the people. [The way we do things is liberating. (….) It’s not only about housing, but all about being creative in all kinds of development goals. (…) And it’s very natural; it’s easier, I tell people, than supply side planning. It’s simpler, easier and big scale. The only thing we have to think about it how the system supports this huge amount of energy and mechanism: finance, planning, land, whatever. If we understand that new technique, instead of us defining a technique and getting the poor to follow our technique and system (…) then we let people start and design a system to facilitate this. It’s a simpler and more exciting kind of development and its real. If we want to solve poverty in a big way, hopefully these 2 weeks will open up a new freedom of how to do things in your own system (…) in your country.” (Soomsook, concluding remarks @ CODI, 22.05.11)
House no. before/after B.M.
I found this very inspiring when I heard her explain. Upon writing it down I am now wondering where in this the architectural profession fits in? Yes, there is the community architect movement, which for coconut-group triggered some questions about possible limitations mentioned in earlier blogs.
Architects are working in a process of listening and trying to understand the system of a community, firm, institution, family or city, how a space is being used and how to change or build one that facilitates the aspirations of the users and then coordinate and make it real. Additionally, through knowledge the amount of adaptations and iterations necessary for testing a pilot or innovative idea to become mainstream can be reduced. What else is needed to design a system to facilitate what people do (as Soomsook says)? For myself I am adding (for now) thinking in the necessary scale, in terms of networks and including freedom.
And also, if we are taking her suggestion literally to multiply change and take this or other approaches into our own counties: Design a finance systems, find powerful partners, raise a fund, mobilise people, get people to take real or perceived risks they wouldn’t normally take, convince others to do things that they think is impossible and to join a vision beyond their day-to-day. And probably a few other things.