This is the century of communication. Collaboration between cultures happens via internet or via mobile phone. We knew this Tuareg-clan settling since a few years north of Timbuktu, who asked an interpreter and an architect from Darmstadt, Germany, to help with the construction of their first permanent educational building for their kids. Of course, we will join in; didn’t we have a splendid time in the desert some years ago…
A work process from one continent to the other was launched – between parties almost 4,000 km apart: some presentation sketches were sent via email as JPGs from Central Europe to Mali, West Africa; but the adequate form of communication has still to be learned by both sides; the newly found name Scarab’s School brands a tangible, palpable idea in all participant’ s minds and motivates the whole team. Asking, checking, and asking again is done via VoIP-mobile phoneconnection.
The above paragraphs seem to be the beginning of a futuristic fairy tale from the 1970s-ies, yet they are our built reality on the desert sands of Timbuktu. Planning and construction of the Scarab’s School was done within three months and a half, finalized in July 2009. The astounding issue in the whole process, from finding first ideas, design, construction, site management, and completion as well as use of the building was twofold: the harmonious communication as well as the horizontally structured collaboration between a “developing country” or for the case being a “nation without country” and on the other hand a “highly civilized industrial country”. The workflow, the building and hopefully the didactic methods in this building will thrive on de-hierachization.
The following article is about processes, which are in a constantly changing world more important than results, even more important than immutable ultimate results.
The article was published at the online peer-review journal for cultural comparative studies in architecture JCCS-a 4/2010 // Ephemeral Structures vs. Current Preservation Practice
The abstract and the article are both available here for download.