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Description of the Asia Link Studio based at La Villette (Paris)

Staff :
Ludovic Jonard, architect, coordinator
Agnès Deboulet, sociologist, urban planner
Jean-François Tribillon, lawyer
Thierry Paulais, economist, architect

This design studio represents a innovative project approach. It has been structured in cooperation with the University of Cambridge Department of Architecture, the Rizvi College of Architecture of Mumbai and Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (Ahmedabad). This partnership is funded by the European Union programme ‘Asia Link’.

The main objective of the studio project is to develop an understanding of transformation and amelioration processes of human settlements based on practical case studies of Mumbai’s slum and pavement dwellers. Site analysis will be undertaken in partnership with local NGOs which work for the improvement of local inhabitants living conditions.

Slums addressed are in process of being rehabilitated, upgraded or relocated. The educational process proposed underlines the importance of enhancing students’ capacity to identify habitat-related problems, to create and use analytical tools, to face and experience the reality of precarious settlements, to structure formal proposals and to conceive architectural and urban interventions.

Students will be requested to formulate responses according to the demands of stakeholders addressing the following tasks:
1. to set up settlement diagnoses following a set of determined analysis criteria. Analysis tools would be agreed upon before site visits and later improved according to reactions to actual experience. This process will focus on the critical ability of students to check the validity of indicators such as those determined by the UN-CHS following the Habitat II conference (Istanbul), World Bank, UNDP and others.
2. diagnoses will imply, before the site visit to India, thorough consultation of statistics, clear identification of the different agents involved in the habitat sector and a general socio-economic analysis focusing on particular local know-how and intermediate technologies. At this stage it will be considered particularly relevant to address the normally-neglected in architectural teaching issues related to infrastructures such as water and sanitation.

The following tasks will be undertaken in parallel groups:
3. to conceive an intervention scenario based on:
i. a clear strategy in response to the problems identified;
ii. a programme;
iii. an operational implementation plan (institutional, financial, technical,...)
4. to conceive an architectural and urban project;
5. and eventually for the final crit, students will be asked to produce a restitution document addressed to the potential users, developers, companies and decision making bodies.

Student groups will consequently be asked to make critical assessments of their own work as well as that of other groups.

The project will be undertaken in three terms.
1. From October 2004 to January 2005: mainly lectures, exercises and analysis.
2. 4-20 February 2005, workshops in Mumbai.
3. From March to June 2005, project design.