Nineteen students and three teachers been on a five-week trip to South Africa and Mozambique to work on architectural issues related to environment, globalization and the meeting between different cultures. The trip culminated in a strong encounter with the village Chimundo in Mozambique. Through analysis and discussion with Global aid, politicians, architects and local villagers, it was a clear need for active participation.
After decades of foreign aid, Mozambique is now totally dependent on the economical incomes this help gives. This is an unfortunate balance between expectations for aid and how the help postpone the peoples own initiatives. As a quite peaceful post-colony and post-civil war country, Mosambique stands in the position of losing most of their aid programs. There is a growing sense of unpredictability about the future concerning the economic situation and how to deal with the inescapable transformation the society has to undergo.
In the world of helping organization there is an increasing understanding that an efficient way to combat poverty is the adaptation of “poor initiatives” programs. Here the marginalized population has the opportunity to take charge of their own destinies. A community driven development that contributes to the strengthening of local environments. The value of such projects has proved to be more lasting than that of conventional aid programs.
The task of building a daycare center in the village Chimundo driven by the nun, Sister Catharina`s was such a task.
In 2004 the Chimundo story of Irma Katarina begun. She started under the biggest cashew nut tree on her plot, cooking small meals for the homeless children. She was soon to develop more of her plot, making her able to serve and teach the children in a small building.
Irma Katarina’s pupils are mostly children of poorer conditions, orphans, or abused children. Her objective is to give them a place to stay during the daytime to minimize the risk of them being exploited in different ways. Irma Katarina’s dream is to build up an orphanage on her plot for around 150 children and a workshop, settings to teach the kids different skills so that they can learn how to work for a living.
Nineteen students from Bergen School of Architecture had a five-week trip to South Africa and Mozambique. The trip culminated in a strong encounter with the village Chimundo in Mozambique. Through analysis and discussion with Irma Katarina, AidGlobal, politicians, architects and local villagers, it was a clear wish and need to start the process of erecting the first building. During 12 days, with limited funds, lack of time and with great help from the locals, they built a school for a daycare-centre.
The student did extensive research on how to lower the building costs through the use of natural materials and evolving local techniques. This was for instance done through innovation in the thermal mass walls build up by stacked rice bags filled with local sand.
Apart from being an affordable solution, this methodology made the process understandable and made possible the transfer of building technology to the local people, making them able to continue the project independently.
Back home in Bergen the students developing the masterplan and the detail project for the orphanage and the workshops. The plan was to erect the rest of the buildings, this time hopefully with more funding, more time and even more collaboration with local students and workers.
Text by Bror Ragnar Hansen