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Scarcity and Creativity Studio: Galapagos Community Centre

Full course name in English: 
The Scarcity and Creativity Studio: Nes
40 508
Syklus 2
2016 Høst

To be a 4th or 5th year student.There will be an elective course on tropical architecture which is mandatory for this studio.

Om emnet

The GALAPAGOS COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PROJECT (GCDP) is an initiative aimed at diversifying different aspects of the social fabric of the Galapagos community.

The Ecuadorian Government, through its Galapagos Administration, and the The Oslo School of Architecture and Design aim to cooperate with the aim of helping Galapagos communities who have not yet benefited from the development of the tourist sector that the Galapagos Archipelago enjoys.

In concrete terms, the aim of this project is to provide a facility that will improve the potential of the earmarked population by opening up new social and economic opportunities much needed in the islands through the cultivation of the population’s skills and thus their potential for self-development.

By recognizing that Galapagos is a unique place in this planet, the Galapagos Administration wishes to ensure that the facility provided not only meets the functional requirements of the local community, but also contributes to the prestige of Galapagos through its artistic merit.

With this objective the Galapagos Administration has invited Ecuadorian Oscar Santillan, artist of international repute based in Amsterdam (see: www.oscarsantillan.com), and the Scarcity and Creativity Studio, Oslo, (see: http://scs.aho.no), to work in cooperation with the local community to explore the opportunities and challenges faced by some of Galapago’s residents.

The Setting:
The Galápagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed on either side of the Equator in the Pacific Ocean, 906 km west of continental Ecuador, of which they are a part, with a population of around 25,000. The islands are known for their vast number of endemic species which were studied by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle in 1835 and contributed to the inception of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.

The archipelago consists of 18 main islands, 3 smaller islands, and 107 rocks and islets. The largest island, Isabela, measures 5,827 km2 and makes up close to three-quarters of the total land area of the Galápagos. Volcano Wolf on Isabela is the highest point, with an elevation of 1,707 m above sea level.

The Galapagos Islands are among the most renowned natural sites in the world. In 1978, the Galápagos Islands were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, signifying their “outstanding value to humanity.” Unlike other oceanic archipelagos, the ecological and evolutionary processes characteristic of Galapagos have been minimally affected by human activities, and the archipelago still retains most of its original, unique biodiversity. However, several recent reports suggest that Galapago’s development model has turned unsustainable and that the unique values of the archipelago might be seriously at risk. The most dangerous of these imports, because of its size and aggressiveness, is Rattus Norvegicus.

The main traditional economic activity of Galapagos has been fishing. Since around 1980 tourism has surpassed fishing to become the main industry, employing almost 40% of local residents and contributing 65.4% of the archipelago’s gross domestic product. Tourism has also become the main threat for the conservation of its unique biodiversity. This threat consists not only of the direct impact of human activities, but also comes through in other ways such as the introduction of foreign life forms, humans, animals and plants.

Despite the estimated annual influx of $150m from tourism into the Galapagos economy, poverty remains a serious problem. Tourism is restricted to certain sites, and consequently benefits some, but not all, of Galapago’s residents. 78% of tourist visits were concentrated on 10 sites in 1993.

At present, there is an uneasy relationship between nature conservation, tourism, and fishing, each of which have very different interests. The Ecuatorian Government has done its best to achieve a balance between these three interest groups, but on occasion, their differences have flared into violent conflicts.

Although each of these three groups faces difficulties and problems, it is perhaps the local fishermen who have been most affected by change since 1980 and who are suffering the brunt of poverty.
A 2010 government study found that 31% of residents are poor, measured according to how well their basic needs were met. Galapagos has above-average rates of domestic violence for Ecuador and more than 40% of the adult population have had only basic or no schooling at all, though literacy rates are higher than on the mainland. The youthful population, with an average age of thirteen to fourteen years, suffers from limited health care and a poor education system that makes it difficult for even the best students to qualify for universities on the mainland.

The fishing community makes up almost 3 percent of the population and is organized into cooperatives that, with the help of the Galápagos National Park Service and other conservation organizations, collaborate to maintain sustainable fishing practices. The park is also a large employer of residents who work as guards on boats that patrol against illegal fishing or do the tough work of helping to eradicate introduced species.
Galapagos fishing communities are mainly located on the islands, Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela. In Galapagos there are about 972 fishermen, of which the largest number are in San Cristobal Island, where there are two fishing cooperatives. In Isabela there are 237 fishermen and in Santa Cruz 207 fishermen. The local fishermen have exclusive access to an area of approximately 140 thousand kilometers, which is considered the second largest Marine Reserve in the world.

Overfishing of certain lucrative species has forced the government to impose fishing bans in order to conserve endangered species. These bans have infuriated fishermen. Especially the recent ban on fishing sea cucumbers whose sale to the Chinese market produced more income in 8 months than the average life’s income of one fisherman. The fishermen organized such protests, often violent, that the government eventually lifted the ban.

The Project:
The Ecuadorian Government, through its Galapagos Administration, has programs in place that try to balance the needs of the environment with those of the local community. One of its strategies is to encourage local communities to organise themselves so as to be in a better position to respond to social challenges. Representatives of the Galapagos Administration will guide AHO to those sites in most need of community facilities. They will advise on a choice of site and through interaction with the local community will determine which facilities would be of most help to their development efforts. It is most likely that the project will consist of a community centre.

Designing and building is Galapagos poses many challenges. The most important is the environmental challenge, and for this the Galapagos Administration has a set of guidelines that have to be strictly adhered to. The headlines to these guidelines are:
1. Plan constructions according to current needs and future forecasts.
2. Attach infrastructure harmoniously with the natural landscape to mitigate visual impact.
3. Consider visitor’s security.
4. Consider people in wheel chairs.
5. Minimize waste during the construction process.
6. Use wood from forest plantations, forest products that cannot be used for timber,
or alternative materials.
7. Designing eco-efficient, energy-saving facilities.
8. Promote the use of clean energy sources.
9. Reduce water consumption through eco-friendly facilities
10. Mitigating environmental impacts that occur during or after completion of the building.
11. Determine the architectural character appropriate to each protected area

In order to standardize all buildings in that area.
12. Use sustainable materials with a long service life, and requiring minimal maintenance.
13. Provide total comfort to users.
14. Standardize all signage within public spaces.
15. Locate stations for solid waste recycling and establish an adequate system of waste management.


Knowledge, skills and competences:

On completing the course, the student:
• will know about, and develop skills and competences related to designing for the needs of a foreign local community
• will know about, and develop skills and competences about detailing and specifications of small communal building.
• will know about, and develop skills and competences about local building regulations and building practices.
• will understand the requirements of tropical buildings.
• will know about, and develop skills and competences about building costs and budget management during construction
• will have acquired the skill for using manual and mechanical tools for building
• will know about, and develop skills and competences about designing and building in conditions of scarcity and for tropical climatic conditions

Praktisk organisering og arbeidsmåter

The development of the work during the semester will follow a pre-determined path which has been thought out in order to provide the pace and logistics which the studio needs to follow if it is to fulfil its aims.
We will work as if we were one architectural studio fulfilling a commission, some of the work will be individual, mostly architectural design, but most of the work will be done in groups. Everyone is expected to contribute to this joint effort performing those tasks that are for the benefit of the studio as a whole. Except for the start of the semester the studio will focus on joint production rather than individual expression. In the end, the chosen project which is built will be the product of all of the members of the studio, regardless of individual roles each may have played. This set-up very much reflects the way in which contemporary architecture is produced.

The development of the project:
Step one: Each student will develop individual proposals for the project.
Review one: review of the individual projects and choice of projects which continue. Individual contributions must meet minimum design development standards that one would expect for an AHO graduate student.
Step two: Students will form teams of two or three. The composition of the teams will be based on similar/compatible/complementary characteristics of the individual projects delivered in Step One. Each of these teams will develop one joint design initiated by others, which will bring together characteristics of the individual designs.
Review 2: Review of the team projects and choice of projects which continue.
Step three: Students will form teams of four or five. The composition of the teams will be based on similar/compatible/complementary characteristics of the individual projects delivered in Step two. Each of these teams will develop one joint design initiated by others, which will bring together characteristics of the individual designs.
Review 3: Review of the team projects and choice of the project which continues.
Step four: The Studio will choose one project to build for which it will develop a complete set of architectural drawings, a detailed list of all materials required for the construction, assembly instructions, and costs.
Review 4: Review of the mock-ups, lists of materials, cutting schedules, assemblies, and construction phasing with a view to discussing construction difficulties which may arise during the construction period.
Step Five: Construction, period of four or five weeks will be spent in Galapagos. Students will have to pay for all travel to and from the site and for food and lodging while there. Students must also take out insurance that covers them while abroad. Norwegian students will get a grant from Lånekassen which is likely to cover travel and lodgings.
Step six: Preparing the work for the AHO WORKS exhibition.
Final Review: Final examination/review to assess the work of the semester will occur during the last week of the semester. The exact date will be determined further on, but please do not plan to leave Oslo prior to the end of the semester.

Work Effort:
This is a full time studio and an elective course which will supplement it. It relies both in individual and group effort. The studio compresses a rather complex design and build project into one semester. This requires full participation of every individual in the course. All absences during the semester that are not justified by medical certificates or equivalent will not be tolerated. This is not a studio for those that are not fully committed or have responsibilities outside AHO which get in the way of a full commitment.

Teaching Methods:
The studio will be based mainly on one-to-one and group discussion of student work supplemented by discussions, workshops, and lectures.
Students who join this studio will have to also enrol in the Tropical Architecture Course because its contents and scheduling are linked to the studio program development.
It is a requirement of the course that students spend the time needed to construct the building in Galapagos. Although it is difficult at this stage to determine the length of the period of construction our estimation is four to five weeks. Students will have to fund their own travel and subsistence while in Galapagos. Insurance which covers each student during the time abroad is required and will be the responsibility of each student. It is expected that the trip to Galapagos will be around November 2016. EHS rules regarding students at construction sites will apply during the period in Galapagos.

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