Sep '06 - Dec '09
We recently came back from a week studio trip in the neighborhood of La Prusia in Granada, Nicaragua. It was a great trip, the group bonded in 95 degree weather, hour-long trips in the back of pick up trucks, dirt roads, and interactions with the community of La Prusia. The most heartening was the interactions with the community, on one day we had over 200 people come out to tell us what they want in their community. In this meetings we heard something that reinforced a hunch I had from the beginning of the process, the biggest need is to fix the dirt road that serves the community.
A couple of stories in particular stuck out, one man described how when the rainy season begins, and the road washes out, emergency vehicles refuse to go into the community. The result is that people in need are wrapped in hammocks and carried for a couple of miles into the town. Another woman described having to walk in complete darkness in a dangerous hole-filled road to give birth. The group I led, as one of the few Spanish speakers, was comprised of a few classmates, a group of students from Managua's American University, and a woman from La Prusia, the community in need, who is studying architecture in the University in Granada. We used our collective talents to help the community draw a new road as they dream it, an illuminated road with opportunities for jobs (restaurants, etc...), and public transportation.
Besides the road, people also seemed excited about a housing project that could include larger social systems (schools, jobs, etc...) and truly create an economically and socially sustainable community.
The trip was very exciting, now it is time for us to get to work to deliver on our end and help this community empower themselves. We are now focusing on the design of the road, the design of the 120 housing units that are at the heart of this studio, and the political and economic systems that we have to rearrange, using seed programs, to make the whole project work. More updates soon...
Flickr Set of La Prusia
Community Meeting in La Prusia. Photo by Brian Yang.