The architecture and art collective WAREHOUSE, mentors of the summer school 2016 and 2017, combines practical intervention, cultural action and participative architecture. In their experimental approach WAREHOUSE aims to achieve inclusive, multidisciplinary and creative projects with hands on experiences. Looking back into a constructive and inspiring partnership, we featured already one of their projects, the Community Kitchen of Terras da Costa.

Now they just came back from Sweden, finishing their latest project: 415 DE PAVILLJÖNG and we couldn’t resist to discuss it with them.

In collaboration with the Berlin based architecture and design collective ON/OFF, WAREHOUSE supported a local project of a small-scale pavilion, initiated by the tenants’ associations Familjebostäder and Hyresgästförening of Siriusdatan, a residential district of Göteborg. Moreover the Chalmers University sent six students of their Master program Design for Sustainable Development.

Why did Warehouse support the project?

We support the project because we were invited by ON/OFF from Berlin to joinan ongoing project that was being developed with a group of students (TEAM 5) from Chalmers University. ON/OFF asked us if we would like to join the project as tutors to give the necessary support to adapt and build the design developed by Team 5. We supported the project because it is exactly the kind of collaboration that we like to do. We believe in processes like this one, structured by a group of entities that partner up to create impact through architecture and participation methodologies.

Where does the idea of a pavilion came from?

The idea comes from Team 5. In the Masters programme for sustainable development, a course from Chalmers University, there were several teams working on participation projects for Bergsjön, a peripheral area of Gothenburg. Team 5 was the only one that took the challenge to build something more than a process. They we’re looking for the experience of developing a process and building a structure at the same time. During the diagnosis part of the project, Team 5 attended a lot of meetings with the local community and from that research they decided to build a pavilion for all people in the neighbourhood, focusing on two principal groups, the Youth and Mammaforum (a local association of Somali mothers). The idea was to create a pavilion within a place-making strategy in order to equip the public space with an appealing common space to receive activities proposed by the community.

The concept of the pavilion was to create a meeting space of functionality encouraging untrained people as much as young creatives with urban design. Therefore the construction of the pavilion is based on the stack technique, layering “Lego” blocks – slices of reused wood – on the façade. This simple but effective method allows a hands on experience for less experienced helpers too.

How was the work divided between Warehouse, ON/Off, the students and local community?

When we joined this project, the concept and the development of the first ideas were already ongoing between ON/OFF, Team 5 and Emílio Brandão, the director of the master course. Then we joined the discussion to get to a practical building system through skype meetings from Portugal. After arriving there, it was a matter of working with everyone at the same level, horizontally, getting to the solutions together. Of course, we gave some leads, solutions that we knew from previous experience but in this project we were mainly in charge of coordinating the students showing that they were capable of leading the process and be the decision makers. The local community followed the process and were envolved during several get-together events. Some individuals of the community became part of the construction team in a daliy-basis.

That was really motivating! Familjebostäder and Hyresgästförening were the main financial supporters of this project, although their involvement was not only financial. Hyresgästförening collaborated on the relationship and creation of bonds between Team 5 and the community. Familjebostäder is a company that manages housing and public space in Gothenburg. In this neighbourhood they had a branch office to serve this community. During the project they facilitated the acess to meeting rooms and the canteen inside their headquarters. They also provided local assistance, autorizations and problem solving when related with public space. Familjebostäder temporarely employed a local young man to reinforce the building team, a very inclusive act for the project. The outcome of this arrangement was that the project won a local informal mediator that predictably increased the bond with the community. In the end he got a job in the company and some responsabilities with the maintenance of the pavillion.

What were the challenges of the project?

Our biggest challenge was to pass the maximum information and experience in a short period of time. We used strategies to motivate and teach the students that were inexperienced in participative projects and construction. We worked a lot in team building and in the promotion of cohesion between the students and the different stakeholders in order to have good results with impact for the community. We were pretty lucky with the weather because the ice and snow didn’t show up, so that wasn’t a problem for the construction.

What impact did Warehouse have?

In our opinion, we had an impact in many points. Mostly our mission was to guide Team 5 in the definition of methodologies, goals, logistics, organization, and teamwork to ensure that something would be built, working, and good looking by the end of the project. During the process we shared with Team 5 strategies to stimulate a comprehension of the benefits within a participative architectural approach.

In parallel to the actual building process, Jonathan Naraine, from The Foodprint LAB, hosted a workshop, creating the interieur furniture of the pavillion hand in hand with local kids and inhabitants.

Within three weeks the groups finished their work on 415 DE PAVILLJÖNG. Speaking of which, 415 is a reference to the local postal code and the variety of the people, which were involved. It shows once more WAREHOUSE approach of a collective construction practice that strengthens social and architectural experiences.

For those who don’t know them you can meet the guys behind WAREHOUSE and Samuel Carvalho from On/Off during our summer school program.

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