October 2016

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OCTOBER 2016 | 7 by STANLEY BRITTON, fraic Member of the RAIC College of Fellows PERSPECTIVE I n April 2015, Nepal was ravaged by an earthquake and then in 2016 the country experienced devastating floods. Both of these events afflicted everyone, and among them, the younger generation. Post-traumatic stress inhibits the development of healthy minds, and those with mobility and cognitive challenges suffer the most. Consoling friendships and meaningful diversions can bring comfort. Experiencing the architecture of urbanism, landscapes, buildings and interiors can be a foil. In this context, "pop-up" schools aim to foster environmental awareness viewed through the creative lens of architecture. The first five-day studio will take place this December at Patan Durbar Square – an earthquake-recovering UNESCO World Heritage Site in the city of Lalitpur. Leadership comprises husband-and-wife architects Pawan and Prabita Shrestha, of Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, intern land- scape architect Anjana Pradhananga of Chilliwack, B.C., and myself, an architect, military engineer and shelter strategist residing in Wakefield, Québec. The host partner is SOS Children's Villages (a non-governmental development agency) and contributing partners are the Canadian Architects' Legacy Fund-2, led by University of Manitoba alumni, iGreen Architects, of Kathmandu, and Architects & Engineers Without Borders Nepal. Nine girls, aged 12 to 18, will participate in the first studio, includ- ing three with mobility challenges. The pedagogy is discovery by experimentation: scavenging for discarded natural and man-made materials to create architecture. Participants will learn to appreciate the inherent goodness of their built environments and creatively imagine ways to improve it. One of the participating local architects includes Deepak KC, who uses a wheelchair. Raised and educated by SOS Children's Villages, he is devoted to making his community accessible. "Getting about is such a pain at the best of times," he says, "and doing so during earth- quake season is a huge struggle." The inspiration comes from three sources: Finland's hands-on- learning Arkki School of Architecture for Children and Youth; the "pop-up" phenomena currently popular in retail sales; and scaven- ger architecture-as-art by Janice Rahn and Michael Campbell from the University of Lethbridge, who were 2012 artists at the Kathmandu International Art Festival. But why focus on girls? Nepali women are in charge. Nearly one- third of the national GDP is derived from remittances, and far-away husbands are the remitters. Women's co-operatives populate the ledgers of habitation micro- financers. A Canadian architects' revolving fund finances an SOS Discovery By Experimentation Participants will learn to appreciate the inherent goodness of their built environments and creatively imagine ways to improve it. " " Children's Villages outreach program. Over the past 10 years, 675- plus houses have acquired straightened walls and non-drip roofs and a few have artful decors. The owner-women know what they want. One example is Anita Adhikari, a self-trained constructor, who in 2006 coached a group of Canadian architects in building with bam- boo. I recall an old mason thanking her "for teaching me new tricks." Nepal clones many women like Adhikari, and their neighbourhoods are delightful: customized houses set at jaunty angles; vegetated courtyards full of playful kids and grannies at cook stoves. Contrast this with a recent North-American-gifted cookie-cutter project pegged to a rigid grid on stripped lands. Why the concentration on the architecture of disasters? Adhikari and her peers are first responders. Long before ShelterBox Rotarians find their way, the women and their offspring set about scavenging the debris. Crumpled tin and frayed mats make temporary habitats. Neighbourhoods rebuild. Cultural landscapes renew. The shelters and spaces-in-between are "pop-up" outcomes. Environmental awareness is one thing, exploitation for creative advantage is quite another. We, the schools' adults, facilitate and mentor the discovery, take notes for our selfish ends and relish in the joy of reciprocity. A O C T O B E R 2 0 1 6 | V O L U M E 3 0 | N U M B E R 5 PUBLISHER Dan Chapman dchapman @ EDITOR Natalie Bruckner-Menchelli nbmenchelli @ ART DIRECTOR Scott Laurie slaurie @ CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Angela Altass Robin Brunet Peter Caulfield Jerry Eberts Day Helesic Laurie Jones Jessica Kirby Stacey McLachlan Susan Pederson Peter Stenning Martha Uniacke Breen PRODUCTION MANAGERS Kristina Borys Kirsty Senior Candice Ui ADVERTISING DESIGN David Claydon Gayleen Whiting SALES/PRODUCTION LIAISON Ina Bowerbank IMAGING TECHNICIAN Mandy Lau ACCOUNT MANAGER Alexander Sugden asugden @ ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Allie Davison adavison @ AWARD MAGAZINE – HEAD OFFICE 604.299.7311 CHAIRMAN, CEO Peter Legge, obc, lld. 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