We saw the design process as an amazing opportunity to empower the children, young women and wider community. Almost two weeks were spent in the school and around the local area, talking to people and running creative workshops to not only gain valuable insights but also to nurture a sense of ownership and involvement in the project.
This was an interesting and creative process for us- we tried several things that worked incredibly well and some which were, well, not quite so successful. Many hours were spent filming the kids in mini interviews where they talked about their dream school and what they liked and disliked about Anusaran, and many more hours were spent trying to translate them! One project which was really fruitful was a simple photography one, where we gave several children disposable cameras and asked them to take photos of whatever they wished. The images we got back were raw, candid and innocent- an incredible insight into their lives, and a real talking point at the exhibitions we have held since.
The building on the site which we were designing for had already been used for several years as the school and women’s empowerment centre, and before that it was a poultry farm. Very little had ever changed to transform it from farm to school, and so the classrooms were dark, cramped and very leaky in the monsoon- not so good when the electrics are very makeshift! Despite all it’s failings as a building, children continued to pour into it to the point of bursting, and our design is to give them a new safe, beautiful, secure and spacious place.
Film was a great tool in discovering the area, and we have made some very short films to give you a snapshot of what we were discovering.