Buayan: A Story of Serendipity

by | September 14th, 2015 | Arkitrek Camp, Buayan | No Comments

Ulu Papar Bio-cultural Heritage Centre

Buayan is situated in the Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve and is on the famous Salt Trail route which makes it a huge potential to be developed into a tourist attraction. The idea of a homestay and tourist visiting is not an uncommon occurrence to the community in Buayan. However, the Bio-Cultural Centre aims to further enhance Buayan as a favorable tourism destination which offers not only beautiful nature sights and scene but also the chance to learn the local’s culture. The centre serves as a place for Buayan and its surrounding communities to gather, perform, practice, learn and share their cultures with each other and also visitors.

Back in 2013, Arkitrek first collaborated with the Global Diversity Foundation and a team of design students from Edinburgh, UK to design and build a Bio-Cultural Centre. The team came up with the perfect design for the centre and got to work immediately with the construction of the building.

At the end of their 6 weeks, they had designed and built the entirety of the super-structure alongside some additional fun details which includes the bamboo peep wall, earthbag formed concrete amphitheatre and a floating bamboo staircase. Because of some tough challenges they had faced along the way, the project was not completed on time and were left in the hands of the community and other future volunteers to carry on the construction work.

That same year, a group of young enthusiastic Malaysian volunteers supervised by Arkitrekker Tom Henderson-Schwartz and Nadhira then took on the project by constructing the walls of the Bio-Cultural Heritage Centre while the village men continue with the roof. The team also managed to lay almost the entirety of the building with the treated bamboo for the floor which was another great addition to the building’s progress.

The following year, another group of volunteers known as Dissolva, a group of students from Gakushuin University, Japan visited Buayan to help out with the construction of the Bio-Cultural Heritage Centre. They were supervised by Arkitrekker Nurfilzah Jamjam. During their stay at Buayan, they helped to build a toilet, plaster the Biocrete walls and weave bamboo window/wall panels for the building. Though they had no experience with the work, they were able to get the job done and accomplished a lot.

Just recently, another Dissolva team visited Buayan to carry out volunteer work to construct the Bio-Cultural Heritage Centre and it was lovely that Arkitrek was given another opportunity to collaborate with them again. The 10 day programme that consisted of workshops, presentations and building work with the group went smoothly and resulted in satisfactory completion of the Bio-Cultural Heritage Centre.

Filzah, who has been handling the project for over two years now has seen how the project progressed since the time it was only a conceptual idea. She said, “It is such a warm feeling to see the community using the building fully. They talk about organising a weaving workshop, putting up the history information board with pictures and the craft work.”

Having to see a project bud from the ground until its completion is always such a rewarding experience for an Arkitrekker but what is most fulfilling is having the opportunity to form lasting friendships along the way with the communities Arkitrek works with and knowing that the project will benefit them in the long-run. Not only that, but Filzah also mentioned how the project has taught her a lot and motivated her into staying in the architecture field.

“I now wonder what if the project had finished as planned two year ago instead? Would I still feel the same? Would I come back to work here in Arkitrek? Would Tom do a different dissertation paper?” were just some of the questions that loomed above Filzah’s head at the aftermath of the project’s success. Let’s just say that maybe the delay of our Bio-Cultural Heritage Centre project was Filzah’s ‘serendipity’.

Many thanks to all who in one way or another were involved in this project! It’s safe to say all efforts big or small definitely paid off- Even if it took 3 years to complete, it was all worth the time 🙂

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