In the fall of 2010, three Norwegian architecture students initiated and constructed a study centre for street children in Tacloban, in collaboration with the children’s’ families and Streetlight, a local aid organisation.
Streetlight offers families in the slums of Tacloban help to get their children off the streets and into school. They cover meals, uniforms, books and help with homework, currently to about 70 children. The aim of the building project was to think strategically to maximise the positive effects of each step of the building process.
Having mapped the local resources and social conditions, the group used a series of modelling and playing workshops to challenge traditional hierarchies, and succeeded in getting the mothers, the fathers and the children to participate equally in the design- and building process, to take responsibility and gain experience.
The children told their parents what their dreams were for the future. Then they listed what they needed to study and do their homework: a library, reading nooks, lights, good air, furniture. The mothers then designed the furniture and gathered materials to build it, and started planning meals and other provisions. Then they challenged the fathers – poor day labourers – to take part in the building construction.
The centre was only half finished when the Norwegian students left. Perhaps the biggest success of the project was how the process continued, that the people involved all took the responsibility to see it through to completion. Streetlight’s aim is to build another two study centres, as soon as funds allow.
The project was sponsored by Asplan Viak, Eidsberg sparebank, Gjensidige Brannkasse Rakkestad, Gjensidige Brannkasse Eidsberg, Per Knudsen arkitekter, Rojo Arkitekter, Sparebank 1 SMN and Øystein Thommesen. The total construction cost was 8000 Euros, including the workshops.
See also the Tacloban project blog.