From Joburg to Manila City: A Photo Story of Community Architects

By Jhono Bennett (on behalf of SA SDI Alliance)

This story covers the 2015 exchange trip between South African delegates from the SDI Network and the CAN Network in the Philippines.

Figure 1: Manila City

Figure 1: Manila City

 

THE EXCHANGE

In 2015, a small delegation from the South African Shack Dwellers International Alliance (SA SDI) attended the  3rd Regional Community Architecture (CAN) Meeting & Workshop. The aim was for the South African delegates to gain first hand experience and learn from the work that CAN practices.

This delegation consisted of 3 professionals and three community members from  SA SDI and were chosen by the alliance for strategic leadership and capacity development to bring back home:

Jhono Bennett 1to1 – Agency of Engagement
Motebang Daniel Matsela CORC
Thembelihle Ngcuka CORC
Phaello Philder Mmole FEDUP
Ofentse Phefu FEDUP
Emmanuel Malinga FEDUP/ISN

As a team, we were expected to try and understand how the CAN works, its practices and tools as well as its members . All this was to be performed  during the series of workshops,meetings and dialogues that the we were exposed to.  We also learned from similar practitioners and community groups who are working on similar problems around the development of disadvantaged communities, such as in South Africa. Ideally we would learn valuable lessons from  CAN in regard to practices of community design and bring these home.

Workshop Background:

The 3rd Regional CAN Meeting & Workshop was held in Manila, Philippines this year between June 16 – June 23 and conducted with the theme:

Together we CAN! People planning for future inclusive cities

Figure 3: CAN workshop Day 1

Figure 3: CAN workshop Day 1

 

The workshop aimed to:

  • Bring together local and international participants working in different countries in Asia and beyond to exchange and share experiences through community workshops.
  • Provide concrete technical support to actual community initiatives through fieldwork in people centred heritage planning in Intramuros, Manila and city-wide development approach (CDA) in Muntinlupa City.
  • Link with local universities
  • Plan new collaborative future activities with multiple stakeholders to ensure long term change,ultimately the workshop aimed to support the larger mission of the CAN Network which is to:

“..Create a platform to link architects, engineers, planners, universities and community artisans in Asia, who work with communities and believe that poor communities should play a central role in planning their communities, and in finding solutions to build better settlements and more inclusive cities.”

Figure 4: CAN Network diagram

Figure 4: CAN Network diagram

The Workshop:

The delegation arrived on the 15th, and was welcomed by the well organised and energetic CAN management team.

Figure 6: Bangladesh CAN delegates presenting.

Figure 6: Bangladesh CAN delegates presenting.

After an initial series of presentations on CAN and  various organisations that make up the network, individual organisations of the workshop were invited to present themselves and their work.

Figure 6: Intramuros site visit.

Figure 6: Intramuros site visit.

 

Figure 7: Intramuros site visit workshop.

Figure 7: Intramuros site visit workshop.

 

Figure 8: Site visit to Banana City, Intramuros.

Figure 8: Site visit to Banana City, Intramuros.

 

From here the next 2 days were spent taking the conference on site visits of where the workshop delegates would be working in Allabang and Intramuros.

Figure 9: Allabang site visit

Figure 9: Allabang site visit

 

Figure 10: Allabang site visit-Fisherman houses.

Figure 10: Allabang site visit-Fisherman houses.

 

Figure 11: Allabang sitevisit-Savings group welcome

Figure 11: Allabang site visit-Savings group welcome

 

Figure 12: Allabang site visit-savings group welcome.

Figure 12: Allabang site visit-savings group welcome.

 

The participants were then broken into smaller groups of practitioners and community members and sent to stay in separate neighborhoods (or Barangays) where each group would focus on a specific set of issues faced by the various community groups supported by the local CAN organisation, Tampei.

Figure 13: Group focus work in Allabang -Enumeration and Mapping.

Figure 13: Group focus work in Allabang -Enumeration and Mapping.

 

Figure 14: Group focus work in Allabang- Enumerations and Mapping.

Figure 14: Group focus work in Allabang- Enumerations and Mapping.

 

Figure 15: Delegates learning CAN practices.

Figure 15: Delegates learning CAN practices.

 

Figure 16: Group based work in Allabang- Confirming Mapping.

Figure 16: Group based work in Allabang- Confirming Mapping.

 

Each group spent the week intensively working on enumeration, mapping, and design with and for local groups aiming to initiate development energy supporting community initiatives.

Figure 16: GPS mapping in dense settlements of Allabang.

Figure 16: GPS mapping in dense settlements of Allabang.

 

Figure 18: : Group Focus Work in Allabang - Story collection from residents

Figure 18: : Group Focus Work in Allabang – Story collection from residents

 

Figure 19: : Group Focus Work in Allabang - Community Mapping with residents

Figure 19: : Group Focus Work in Allabang – Community Mapping with residents

 

Figure 20: Allabang in context.

Figure 20: Allabang in context.

 

Figure 21: Group Focus Work in Allabang - Enumeration & Mapping with residents.

Figure 21: Group Focus Work in Allabang – Enumeration & Mapping with residents.

 

Figure 22: Group Focus Work in Allabang - Consolidating Mapping work for presentation

Figure 22: Group Focus Work in Allabang – Consolidating Mapping work for presentation

 

Figure 23:: Sharing valuable skills from participants.

Figure 23:: Sharing valuable skills from participants.

 

This was done while strategically developing a body of work that would be shown to local government stakeholders at a final seminar in both Allabang and Intramuros.

Consolidated Group work for strategic presentation with government stakeholders.

 

 

24b

24c

24d

Figure 25: Allabang - Strategic presentation with invited stakeholders

Figure 25: Allabang – Strategic presentation with invited stakeholders

 

Figure 26: : South African delegate presenting work on behalf of focus group

Figure 26: : South African delegate presenting work on behalf of focus group

 

Figure 27: Intramuros - Strategic Presentation

Figure 27: Intramuros – Strategic Presentation

 

The workshop culminated in a social event on the 24th, celebrating the workshop’s success.

Key Observations:

The workshop was highly successful in bringing together community architects from across the world to share experience and knowledge through the mixture of workshop tasks, social events and working activities.

Figure 28: CAN Practice: intensive workshops

Figure 28: CAN Practice: intensive workshops

The strategic use of these professionals to hyper-activate local community processes was exemplary and not have the visited communities as passive beneficiaries, while using the work developed in the short time to engage local governance bodies to support local community processes was a highly impactful strategy employed by the workshop organisers.

Figure 29: CAN Practice Capacitation through training

Figure 29: CAN Practice Capacitation through training

In particular it was impressive to see how ingrained the practices were conducted by both local community support and technical support. There seems to be something in the way the Philippines alliance work that goes beyond technical support and enters into new cultural and social dimensions of such work.

Figure 30: : CAN Practice - Strategic grass roots work

Figure 30: : CAN Practice – Strategic grass roots work

Personally, it was amazing to be in the presence of so many like-minded professionals who shared the values of community driven processes and were skilled in facilitative design processes.

Figure 31: CAN Practice in action

Figure 31: CAN Practice in action

This experience further cemented my personal motivation in developing critical co-productive design skills for me and other South African socio-technical spatial designers through community driven development projects.

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