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Competition: Pharping community centre, Nepal

An international student contest has been launched for a new 170m² community hub in the remote Nepalese village of Pharping (Deadline: 6 May)

Open to students, recent architecture graduates and collaborative teams, the competition seeks ‘innovative and appropriate’ proposals for a new community space, workshop, kitchen and media area on a challenging site 20km south-west of Kathmandu.

The project – backed by ARCHsharing and humanitarian non-governmental organisation Rook’n Wood – aims to deliver a new piece of social and cultural infrastructure for the remote mountainous community. The winning scheme will be constructed using local materials and techniques.

Pharping, Nepal

Pharping, Nepal

Pharping, Nepal

According to the brief: ‘The goal is to propose a useful infrastructure which improves the daily life of the inhabitants. It shall be a community building serving several of the village’s unaddressed needs. The facility will provide a community room, an atelier, a kitchen, a media/cultural space and bathroom (shower and toilets).

‘Innovative and appropriate architectural arrangements will create a versatile building fit for the different uses. Special attention will be provided to aspects such as external areas, water supply, waste treatment, energy supply and local resources. Proposals will take into consideration the atypical Nepalese context, but at the same time will keep design freedom, creating a unique construction.’

Nepal lies between India and Asia and is a highly mountainous country featuring many of the world’s highest peaks and a population of around 29 million. The majority of settlements are remote and rural with limited access to power, communication, wastewater and transport infrastructure.

Nepal was struck by a major earthquake in 2015 which killed more than 9,000 people and flattened many buildings. The latest project aims to help with the reconstruction effort by delivering new vitally needed infrastructure on the outskirts of Pharping.

Pharping, Nepal

Pharping, Nepal

Pharping, Nepal

Proposals should include a 60m² community room, a workshop, kitchen, media or cultural space and toilets. Concepts should take account of external areas, water supply, waste treatment, energy supply and the use of local resources.

Submissions must include a single A1-sized display board along with an A4 written description. Judges include Anna Heringer of Anna Heringer Architecture, Yasuhiro Yamashita of Atelier Tekuto, Delphine Desert from Atelier a+I, and Aude Codron from Rock’n Wood.

The overall winner, due to be announced on the 13 June, will receive a €1,500 prize while a second prize of €1,000 and third prize of €500 will also be awarded. All three winning schemes will be considered by Rock’n Wood for construction in Nepal.

How to apply

Deadline

The registration deadline is 11:55pm (CEST) on 6 May and submissions must be completed by 11:55pm (CEST) on 9 May.

Fee

Early registration from 2 January to 11 March: €60
Normal registration from 12 March to 14 April: €80
Late registration from 15 April to 6 May: €100

Contact details

Email: contact@arch-sharing.com

Visit the competition website for more information

Bilding community centre case study: Q&A with Verena Rauch

The supervisor of the Institute of Experimental Architecture at the University of Innsbruck discusses lessons learned creating a new community centre in a public park

How did your project deliver an appropriate community centre for Innsbruck’s Rapoldi Park?

The programme in the Bilding provides a unique facility for aesthetic education and creative encouragement for children and youths – compared to a music school, the kids (four-to-nineteen-year-olds) learn and experience from artists in various fields: architecture, painting, sculpturing, de­sign, film and new media. Bilding’s extensive programme is free for everybody, especially underprivileged kids are invited to the Bilding.

The Bilding made a former non-place into an atmospheric oasis on the banks of the Sill. The wooden structure creates a link to the park and forms an inviting place. The building opens up towards the Rapoldi Park and presents life and a creative and positive environment to a place that used to be a roughed-up skate park.

Bilding community centre by students at the University of Innsbruck

Bilding community centre by students at the University of Innsbruck

Source: Image by Günter wett

Bilding community centre by students at the University of Innsbruck

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

Bilding is a workshop resembling a pavilion that not only offers the perfect space for the children and youths working within, but also enriches the surrounding park with its singular architecture. Outside decks and floor to ceiling glass walls connect the curved building to its surroundings and on the inside, slanting walls and floors create a continuum of spaces with various atmospheres and work opportunities.

Bilding community centre by students at the University of Innsbruck

Bilding community centre by students at the University of Innsbruck

Source: Image by Günter wett

Bilding community centre by students at the University of Innsbruck

An experimental space has been designed and constructed by young people for young people. A place for change, which sees education as “a work in progress”, and encourages active participation. Bilding’s extensive programme, starting this autumn, proves the opportunities offered by location and space.

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing a new community centre for Pharping?

Even if you have a project in mind, feel free to draw a vision; a unique community centre. There should be a strong concept, that, when it comes to detailing and making buildable, is not banal and random.

Bilding community centre by students at the University of Innsbruck

Bilding community centre by students at the University of Innsbruck

Source: Image by Günter wett

Bilding community centre by students at the University of Innsbruck


Maharashtra community centre case study: Q&A with Sameep Padora

The architect at Mumbai-based sP+a discusses lessons learned designing a new community centre in rural India

How did your project deliver an appropriate community centre for the remote community of Maharashtra?

The centre is built for the local neo-Buddhists, the ‘Baudh’ community, but is open to all people of all religions. The opening of the centre was attended by religious leaders from the Christian, Muslim and Hindu communities as well. The Baudh community has traditionally been an economically disadvantaged section of Indian society and while they do have a substantial political presence in the country, the centre attempts to fill in the gaps of spiritual programmes like meditation and yoga as well as vocational training for the youth. Hence both the largest spaces within the precinct house a meditation hall and a workshop.

The primary directive was to do no harm to a single living thing, hence the centre is split and fragmented between trees rather than being a consolidated singular block. Not a single tree was cut during its construction.

The repetitive rhythm of the wooden structure focused on a deity statue, referencing the stone ribbed interior of the Buddhist cave architecture. Some of our early study models also alluded to the vaulted section of the cave roof (photos attached), but the logic of visually connecting to the foliage of the trees outside we felt was eventually the more dominant and desirable experience.

Maharashtra community centre by sP+a

Maharashtra community centre by sP+a

Source: Image by Edmund Sumner

Maharashtra community centre by sP+a

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

On one of our site visits before the project began, we were sitting in a house where a covered courtyard had a roof elevated above the walls to allow for hot air to escape. This also allowed or us to see a bit of sky and trees beyond. This prompted us to develop the butterfly section which has a reversed roof visually linking the outside foliage on our site with the interior space. We also dispersed programmes between the trees but then drew elements, sometimes walls sometimes a roof, that linked these scattered blocks to generate an impression of being within a single precinct, even when one is in-between various built forms. So the spaces in-between become inextricably linked to interior spaces.

Maharashtra community centre by sP+a

Maharashtra community centre by sP+a

Source: Image by Edmund Sumner

Maharashtra community centre by sP+a

The material logic comes from frugality and ease of access to construction material as well as their maintenance over time. The seasoned wood for the roof structure came from ship breaking yards; the fired mangalore roof tiles from older dismantled buildings and the rammed stone dust walls from a basalt stone quarry nearby. The design process became almost reactive, responding to our fast-changing understanding of context, an understanding that evolved in tandem with the construction of the project. I think the significance of the project lies in this.

Almost all our initial material ideas changed: rammed earth needed too much cement for stabilisation, bamboo and thatch for construction were both of poor quality. The aim of adopting the stone dust rammed wall construction was to also make it into a demonstration of how local material, traditionally seen as waste could be used to catalyse a new format of indigenous construction. We hope that it kickstarts a new ‘local’ technique, not one based in nostalgia but specific to its time. The extremely hot and dry climate of Sakharwadi warranted a choice of material that would insulate the interior from the heat. As opposed to concrete the thick rammed stone dust walls keep the interior extremely cool.

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing a new community centre for Pharping?

A light-footed, nimble design process divorced from the weight of a fixed and pre-empted solution might enable a response that is both appropriate and richer. Design-thinking for the particularities of this context doesn’t necessarily need to prescribe to stylistic notions of building history in this part of the world, and one might be better served by understanding embedded systemic processes.

Maharashtra community centre by sP+a

Maharashtra community centre by sP+a

Source: Image by Edmund Sumner

Maharashtra community centre by sP+a


Q&A with ARCHsharing

The competition organiser discusses their ambitions for the project

Why are your holding a contest for a new community centre in Pharping, Nepal?

We launched the first ARCHsharing contest in 2016 from the observation that student competitions don’t offer much visibility or feedback to participants unless you’re the winner. We also wanted to explore opportunities to turn submissions into actual construction. Our first edition immediately met success, attracting 500 applicants forming 280 teams from 40 different countries and a high-level, international jury. We gave individual feedback to everyone and more than 30 teams will see their work published in a book which is sent across the globe.

For the second edition, we felt that a community centre in a rural area in Nepal was an excellent match with the ethical and aesthetical aspirations of our younger generation. New ideas will stem from the alignment of training, talent and emotions.

Pharping, Nepal

Pharping, Nepal

Pharping, Nepal

What is your vision for the new community centre?

After the massive destruction caused by the 2015 earthquake, many NGOs came in to provide emergency support. Two years after, the main NGOs are leaving for other assignments, but the damage is still present. Our partner Rock’n Wood is there for long-term projects, such as schools, orphanages or community centres. The vision is that of a versatile infrastructure improving daily life: community room, atelier, kitchen, media/cultural space, shower and toilets. Architectural innovations and appropriate arrangements are key components for the vision, given the constraints imposed by the site, the use of local materials, seismic resistance, water and energy supply, waste treatment.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

Registration is open to all students of schools and universities in relation to architecture from all over the world. We are encouraging cross-disciplinary teams for innovation; teams with a strong drive to see their project being built event before graduation! The winning project will be built with our partner Rock’nWood. Our partner will secure the site, raise money, manage permissions and supply chain. The laureate will be encouraged to go to Nepal to participate in the preliminary studies and become involved in the construction work of their own building.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

Actually, ARCHsharing makes it possible for a global community of students, young professionals, experienced architects and communities to debate and devise the future. It’s a purely bottom-up adventure and that’s what’s absolutely fascinating. We stay open for the future, being confident that environmental, social and economic challenges will attract innovative thinking.

Are there any other recent remote community centre centre projects you have been impressed by?

We have been impressed and inspired by Anna Heringer’s METI school in Bangladesh. This was her diploma project. The jury wrote: ”The final result (…) is a building that creates beautiful, meaningful and humane collective spaces for learning, so enriching the lives of the children it serves.” We are very proud to have Anna on our jury.