The Living Library project works with a site in Chittagong, Bangladesh to rethink the notions of historical conservation and shared living in a post-colonial context. The scheme rejects the idea that former colonial buildings ought to solely be retained as articles of antiquity, as hilltop enclaves fenced off from day-to-day life in Chittagong city, and instead explores the agency of a marginalised community to re-shape their built environment as a collectively active system.
At the site of Darul Adalat, a former Portuguese watchtower, the project invites new residents arriving from the ‘hill tracts’ region in Eastern Bangladesh to reimagine the spaces around them. Rather than providing a fully formed architectural proposal, the intervention offers a structural framework for the new occupants to build upon. The self-initiated construction system is supported by a rickshaw material transport network that upcycles materials from around Chittagong city.
The ruin is first occupied in a ‘palliative’ manoeuvre. Over time, the framework re-organises to generate a livelihood for live-in residents in the form of a living library of tribal dialects. Through the mediums of photogravure and etching, the material of the ruin is physically transformed, pressing layer upon layer into the paper. Ever shifting and mutating, the living library generates a counter archive to celebrate knowledge which has never been written. It initiates alternate ways to engage with built remnants to question what, or who, has the ability to create history in a rapidly urbanising cityscape.
kadk first year ma project project dates: 09.2014 - 05.2015
photogauvre etching series dual plate 03.2015
"resistance is not simply opposing, but taking a deliberate stand to make concious decisions amid architecture's problematic entanglement with power and money. to play a role in the world, it is critical for architecture to question its own practices and not succumb to the expedient or reflective projection of form or technology"
Scaffolding erected. Cycle rickshaw workshop established and employing two carpenters. Interior walls of existing building are dropped and bricks sold to finance the project.
Colonial outhouse converted into store. Curator employed to manage the process. 8 rickshaw drivers employed full-time. Posessions brought to site. West stair cycle access ramp.
Permanent spaces established within the ruin. Tenant possessions accumulate in the storage system. First tenants move in.
Palliative structure disbanded as cast elements are established within the building. Familes becoming permenant residents. Links to other hilltop enclaves.
The ruin is first occupied in a ‘palliative’ manoeuvre. Over time the framework re-organises to generate a livelihood for live-in residents. Through the mediums of photogravure and etching, I physically transform the material of the ruin, pressing layer upon layer into the paper. Ever-shifting and mutating, in the words of Fujimoto, this is an architecture from the ‘future past’.
The project also includes a series of essays:
hilltop colony: topography and occupation in chittagong and the west bank
dwelling on the margin: locating the trickster