During the period of 2010/2011 Ivar Tutturen, Trond Hegvold and Alexander Furunes (architecture students at NTNU, Norway) initiated and built a study center in the Philippines with the local slum community and a charity called Streetlight. This organization works with the seawall community in the city of Tacloban to help their children off the street, and into school. The aim was to use architecture as a tool to empower the parents to improve the learning conditions for their own children. Through a series of workshops, games and testing on site, the design process became a platform to exchange the passion and knowledge of everyone involved. For the students, it was beautiful to see how the mothers took responsibility designing and building the interior of the school, while the fathers became involved in the building process. Since many of the fathers were day laborers working in the local cement factory, training them in construction skills opened up other work opportunities after the completion of the building. The project became not only about the building of a study center, but the building of a community. Retrospectively, the process was described using a traditional Philippino term Bayanihan. This describes a collective effort to achieve a particular objective, where everyone feels the spirit of participation and cooperation. The community was involved throughout the process - from conception through to completion. The students left halfway through the construction; from this point on, the mothers and fathers, together with the NGO, took on the full responsibility of completing the school for their own children. All materials and skilled labour for the building of the Study Center was sourced from the slum to help strengthen local businesses, local knowledge and craft. The parents and the NGO have now invited the students back to build two more Study Centers.
Photographers: Nelson Petilla, Ronnie Ramirez & Nerren Homeres