3rd Regional Community Architecture Network Meeting & Workshop: Manila, Phillipines

This story covers the 2015 exchange trip between South African delegates from the SDI Network and the CAN Network in the Philippines.

Manila City

The Exchange
In 2015, a small delegation from the South African Shack Dwellers International Alliance (SASDIA) was sent to the 3rd Regional Community Architecture (CAN) Meeting & Workshop to experience first-hand the CAN Network in action in order to understand the workings of the network, learn from the CAN experience.
SDI Delegation in Manila 
This delegation was made up of 3 professionals and three community members from the SASDIA and were chosen by the alliance for strategic leadership and capacity development to bring back home.
As a team, we were expected to try and understand how the CAN works, its practices and tools as well its members . This would be done during the working while the delegation would be exposed and learn from similar practitioners and community groups who are working on similar problems around the development of disadvantaged communities, such as in South Africa. Ideally we would learn valuable lessons from the CAN in regard to practices of community design and bring these home to South Africa.

Workshop Background:

The 3rd Regional CAN Regional Meeting & Workshop held was held this year in Manila, Philippines between June 16 – June 23 and conducted with the theme: “Together we CAN! People planning for future inclusive cities “

CAN Workshop Day 1
The workshop aimed to:
· Bring together local and international participants working in different countries in Asia and beyond to exchange and share experiences through community workshops.
· Provide concrete technical support to actual community initiatives through fieldwork in people centred heritage planning in Intramuros, Manila and city-wide development approach (CDA) in Muntinlupa City.
· Link with local universities
· Plan new collaborative future activities with multiple stakeholders to ensure long term change
Ultimately the workshop aimed to support the larger mission of the CAN Network which is to:
“..Create a platform to link architects, engineers, planners, universities and community artisans in Asia, who work with communities and believe that poor communities should play a central role in planning their communities, and in finding solutions to build better settlements and more inclusive cities. “

CAN Network Diagram

The Workshop:

The delegation arrived on the 15th, and was welcomed by the well organised and energetic CAN management team.

CAN Members from Bangladesh presenting
After an initial series of presentations on CAN and the various organisations that make up the network, individual organisations of the workshop were invited to present themselves and their work.

Site Visits – Intramuros

Site Visits – Intramuros Workshop

Intramuros Site Visit – Banana City

From here the next 2 days were spent taking the conference on site visits of where the workshop delegates would be working in Allabang and Intramuros.

Allabang Site Visit

Allabang Site Visit – Fisherman Houses

Allabang Site Visit – Saving group welcome

Allabang Site Visit – Saving group welcome

The participants were then broken into smaller groups of practitioners and community members and sent to stay in separate neighborhoods (or Barangays) where each group would focus on a specific set of issues faced by the various community groups supported by the local CAN organisation, Tampei.

Group Focus Work in Allabang – Enumeration & Mapping
Group Focus Work in Allabang – Enumeration & Mapping

Group Focus Work in Allabang – learning the CAN practices

 Group Focus Work in Allabang – Confirming the Mapping
Each group spent the week intensively working on enumeration, mapping, and design with and for local groups aiming to initiate development energy supporting community initiatives.

Group Focus Work in Allabang – GPS Mapping in dense settlements

Group Focus Work in Allabang – Story collection from residents

Group Focus Work in Allabang – Community Mapping with residents

Allabang in context

Group Focus Work in Allabang – Enumeration & Mapping with residents

This week was also spent sharing knowledge amongst all international participants in such work.

Group Focus Work in Allabang – Consolidating Mapping work for presentation

Sharing valuable skills from participants

This was done while strategically developing a body of work that would be shown to local government stakeholders at a final seminar in both Allabang and Intramuros.

Consolidated Group work for strategic presentation with government stakeholders

Allabang – Strategic presentation with invited stakeholders

Intramuros – Strategic Presentation

The workshop culminated in a social event on the 24th, celebrating the workshop’s success.

Key Observations:

The workshop was highly successful in bringing together community architects from across the world to share experience and knowledge through the mixture of workshop tasks, social events and working activities.

 CAN Practice: intensive workshops

The strategic use of these professionals to hyper-activate local community processes was exemplary in not have the visited communities as passive beneficiaries, while using the work developed in the short time to engage local governance bodies to support local community processes was a highly impactful strategy employed by the workshop organisers.

CAN Practice Capacitation through training

In particular it was impressive to see how ingrained the practices were conducted by both local community support and technical support. There seems to be something in the way the Philippines alliance work that goes beyond technical support and enters into new cultural and social dimensions of such work.

CAN Practice – Strategic grass roots work

Personally, it was amazing to be in the presence of so many like-minded professionals who shared the values of community driven processes and were skilled in facilitative design processes.

CAN Practices in action

This experience further cemented my personal motivation in developing critical co-productive design skills for me and other South African socio-technical spatial designers through community driven development projects.