CCScity450 Communities is a project that results from a research led by Professors Aliz Mena and Franco Micucci of the Simon Bolivar University and founding members of Fundación Espacio, together with María Isabel Peña, of the Central University of Venezuela. The project is supported for a number of public institutions, associations, groups and private entities.
Aiming to improve the living conditions inside the informal settlements, the organizers chose ten communities, ensuring their interests and commitment. After that it was launched an open competition inviting multidisciplinary teams to present projects and programs to be developed in the selected sites.
This process diverges from most architecture competitions in several aspects, that make it truly participatory and very respectful of the communities’ needs and desires. In first place it is worth noting the relationship between the organizers and the communities, a relationship of confidence and respect, that allows the people to consider CCScity450 an ally. It was also innovative the information and training given to the participants, with several sessions inviting national and international speakers. The participants were also helped to know in detail the places and its people, through site visits and workshops. Before the submission date, the teams were asked to show the advance of their projects to the organizers, to receive feedback and advice. And, in addition of the usual drawings and renders presented in any competition, it was asked to include programs to be develop in the new spaces proposed and a detailed budget indicating how to use the resources if the team would win.
The jury process, in which I am honored to have been invited, included not only a board of professionals with experience in the upgrading of informal settlements, but also the community leaders. Each team had then the opportunity of presenting their ideas, and to respond questions, clarifying the proposal. In most competitions the proposals are anonymous. Here the impartiality given by anonymity was forfeited in exchange of clarity and trust. After the verdict, the communities were given the results and veto power, that was in some cases used.
Through this process were selected a variety of interesting projects, that are now in different stages: some of them finished, others in progress, some others about to start. The results are some beautiful new public spaces and some problems fixed, but more importantly, activated and encouraged communities, and informed and enthusiastic professionals, many of them very young.
It has also resulted in valuable lessons, about the feasibility of the projects, about the difficulties and imponderables of building inside the informal settlements, and about the tensions and private interest that lay inside the communities. Those lessons are better explained by the organizers, and I hope to have one of them invited for a future post.
For now, here a brief description of the winning projects. More information in www.ccscity450.com and @ccscity450.
Catuche’s dream – as the project was called – proposes the occupation of vulnerable areas on the edge of the ravine with built and landscape components, for the protection of the brook and the promotion of social, recreational and coexistence practices in the public space.
C04 La Charneca
Using shadow as a space-generating element, the project is a volumetric installation using bamboo, greenhouse fabrics in horizontal and vertical direction, and wires, with the idea of simulating the vertical gym building that was promised to the community, but paralyzed.
C07 La Cruz
The program La Parada TV includes training workshops for interested parties, creating an account in IG and TW [ @lacruztvccs ] organizing the people for the transmission of local news. In these meetings the community was organized with the aim of celebrating the 60th anniversary of the settlement.
C08 La Lucha
The proposal consists of a catalogue of pieces of urban furniture, refined design but based on local modes of production, which aim to equip the public space and also encourage community entrepreneurship.
The winning projects propose the use of natural water sources present in the subsoil to improve the living conditions of the population and especially of the children and the elder who living near Don Bosco Community Center.
C11 El Guire
The proposal presented by the winning team identifies the potentialities and needs of the sector in different aspects, such as creating microclimates that favor permanence in public spaces, creating conditions for the community develop of cultural traditions and incentivize the productivity of local entrepreneurs.
C12 El Calvario
The winning team proposes the holding of a film workshop where participants and the community write, direct, produce and project a short film, after several weeks of learning and preparation. The workshop is projected towards the concept of “Community Producer” that will cover all audiovisual areas.