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Monday28 July 2014

Odel Jeffries, Will Notley, Cian Mckay, Harjeet Suri, Toby Pear and Audrey Lematte - London Metropolitan University

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This group of six students spent the past year working together on both live and theoretical projects in India.

Judges’ comments

Jury member Prisca Thielmann said: “The community classroom delivered as a live project through London Met’s project office is an impressive and beautifully executed structure.

“The longstanding involvement of the tutors in areas of change in India make this a very credible project, which clearly informed this group’s later theoretical projects for sites in Delhi affected by change due to newly extended metro routes. While being very realistic,
the work has a strong design quality without having a rose-tinted pretension to save the world.”

The jury was particularly encouraged to see that the students were investigating ways in which they could continue to operate as a group whose work would be focused on the provision of buildings for the 90% of the world’s population that are without architects.

Student Statement

Live Project

Working with NGO ARPHEN, student designs were produced and drawings detailed based upon an original model at Baban Seth Quarry constructed by ASD Projects the year before. Adaptations were made to accommodate a larger building on a steep sloped site, with an open verandah. Members of the Tata Press community were very much involved in the construction of their community space. This was important as it gave them a sense of ownership of the building throughout the process.

An ongoing problem with insufficient water and electricity supply on site, slowed down progress on the build. Difficult access to the remote site, due to its location within the quarry settlement, meant that all construction work had to be carried out manually - digging trenches, transporting materials, and mixing concrete.

Mumbai Regeneration

Will Notley and Cian McKay’s schemes are both aimed at stimulating the re-occupation of the abandoned and romantically overgrown brick factory buildings.Will’s Steel Bridge Bazaar over the railway connects to the city. A neighbouring but isolated Islamic ridge settlement is connected into the new landscape via an existing chimney turned into a stair tower.

The roof of an existing adjacent burnt out north lit shed is raised to allow all year round cricket for local children. In both schemes the long brick bell towered façade edges a new bazaar street that is reconfigured in Cian’s scheme to include an Artisan Quarter looking out over the reoccupied walled enclosures that back up against the ridge.

Mumbai Reclamation

Odel Jeffries and Toby Pear have both chosen a site that edges the organic mining settlement and looks out over the worked out mining moonscape. Using bamboo grown as part of the proposed reclamation Toby inserts a stepped terrace of rooms and a range of ponds as part of the infrastructure to support ground water recharging, dhobi ghat (laundry) and tiffin wallahs (delivered food service). On the same site Odel’s cliff top settlement wall and courtyard layout are home to street theatre production related to the fight against HIV infection by his client, a non-government organisation.

Harjeet Suri’s scheme shows how a simple two or three storey table structure developed from local forms, materials and skills can be the prototype insertion for the upgrading of a school, nursery and in particular a women’s refuge run by his client the local Buddhist community.

Audrey Lematte proposes a process of site cleaning at both the very local and settlement levels to provide healthy work-live dwellings stretching out into the remediated lands in linear arrays with individual allotments and a market building.

Tutor Statement

Architecture of Rapid Change and Scarce Resources

In October and November, six 5th year students travelled to Navi Mumbai and constructed a small school for the children of stone quarry workers who would not otherwise gain access to state education. This gave the students an insight into how urban landscape is inhabited, made and remade through personal and collective acts, events, memories, and experiences. Through their live building project students were able to engage communities of occupants in everyday conversations in space and time so as to evoke in contemporary discourse their changing physical and cultural situation. They then went on to explore by immersion two fast moving urban landscapes in Mumbai.

The first group put the classroom buildings within a wider context of organic residential neighbourhoods struggling to embed themselves within a rapidly changing moonscape of polluted land and worked out mines. Schemes included land reclamation by phyto-remediation and physical insertions aimed at reducing the pathology of single male migrant workers serviced by sex workers; challenging the myth of a future idyllic cash rich return to the rural village and pragmatically promoting healthy urban livelihoods here and now in the city.

The second situation examined was a large sprawling overgrown romantic landscape of nineteenth century brick buildings (north light sheds, long brick facades, bell tower and huge concrete table structures set amongst underground water tanks and walled enclosures) that had been the site of a massive textile mill in the centre of Mumbai and had been abandoned for perhaps ten years. Schemes aimed to facilitate the reoccupation of the mill, making use of the existing buildings, supporting and guiding developer led interventions and reconnecting the site to nearby Mumbai communities.

Maurice Mitchell (with Shamoon Patwari, Bo Tang and Francesca Pont 

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