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Title: Approaches to the resilience and the potential for adaptation through community-driven construction projects in the global South
Author: Panta, Maria
ISNI:       0000 0004 7427 1081
Awarding Body: University for the Creative Arts/University of Brighton
Current Institution: University of Brighton
Date of Award: 2018
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Historically, architectural research into the resilience and the potential for adaptation tended to put more focus on the physical aspects of the built environment at the expense of the social and cultural values which are embedded in the everyday making of built form and space. This research is interested in accentuating the social and cultural context much more than the mere physical element of the built form. It sets out to explore approaches to resilience and adaptation in the global South through the use of local building materials, and to rethink the idea of what is local in a given context. It is interested in examining how collaborative construction and architectural enterprises in the global South address the existing levels of indigenous knowledge and local skills in order to cope with adverse climatic conditions and poverty. The research investigates the work of community-driven initiatives involved in small-scale adaptation projects primarily through the lens of a construction project for a small community building in rural Ghana. Secondary case studies include initiatives, projects and organisations located in four different countries namely Pakistan, Swaziland, Algeria, and Zimbabwe. Moreover it focuses on themes such as the very central relationship between architectural education and practice on the one hand, and building materials, approaches to resilience and adaptation through the use of local materials, ethnographic approaches to research and design, training and collaborations on the other. The research uses a methodology, which is based on qualitative data collection, and includes a mixture of creative methods such as, participant observation and participation, semi-structured and unstructured audio-recorded interviews, informal conversations as well as the use of social media such as Facebook as being the second ‘virtual site’. It is argued that the syncretism of multi-site ethnographic approach and participatory design methods enables solutions, which can contribute to longer-term sustainable adaptation in this context. Drawing on its main research site and primary fieldwork in Abetenim, a remote village in southern Ghana, and the researcher’s role as a community architect and participant in the Earth Architecture construction workshop through a non-profit organisation (NGO), it discusses how the use of ethnography as part of architectural praxis facilitates the holistic understanding of the local context and informs the design process. It feeds off Anthropological research as a typical methodological approach through participant observation and participation, in order to rethink architecture from a broader cultural perspective. This allows the author to critique local situations and frame questions, which directly inform the design process in this context. Simultaneously it reflects on the need to integrate social, physical and cultural change in order to effect broader changes in the community. Hence, the research sets out to explore the compromise between the global and local perspectives. It investigates how an NGO’s prescriptive narrative of using local materials like earth, in the construction of new projects may be adapted and translated into the local reality, and looks at the process of the ‘on the ground’ experience through direct involvement in community architecture and building. It considers the relationship between culture and nature; the intimate relationship between nature and architecture and how this challenges architectural education in the West. Finally, the process of selecting building materials addresses distinct layers of collaboration among the local community, the members of the NGO, and local institutions. Thus the value of collaboration with local actors within research in the global South is emphasized, as the very praxis of collaboration is employed as a method in the implementation of such projects.
Supervisor: Bougdah, H. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available