In true Arkitrekking fashion, Arkitrek trekked into the forest around Lupa Masa last week to “Forget Time, Think Arkitrek.”
Everyone had thought of something they wanted to impart to their colleagues and had designed a task around this. Nick was first to kick things off with his programme: ‘Building Engineering Basics for Architects – Buildings need to stand up and look pretty’ Our task: to build the highest tower possible, capable of holding an egg with just 9 sheets of A4 paper. We were all put to shame by Charlie, our host, forest guide and builder friend, who beat us by about 1m in height and an outstanding 3 eggs capacity! Next up was Zhen Ron, who gave us an introduction to the Malay House and an insight into Feng Shui- both very useful topics for foreign architects working in Malaysia.
We couldn’t be at Lupa Masa long without going out trekking. Night walks gave us reddish scops-owl and Sabah pit viper and our trek on Saturday took us to a stunning 50m high waterfall with a perfect dip pool surrounded with moss carpeted rocks. Nick took the award for best dressed with his high street fashion and trendy shopping bag almost standing up against the elements until a wayward shoot of rattan caused a rather revealing problem for his swim shorts! Sadly we ran out of time to learn to make compost with Catherine or to build installations with Sally, but these will be saved for the next Arkitrek retreat.
The main objective of the retreat was to discuss the direction Arkitrek should move in. As a practice on the cusp of expanding, and nearly at the point of finalising its company manifesto, it is important to get everyone’s input into how they foresee Arkitrek. The following suggestions were made:
“Buildings [should be] provided for people and communities that need them.
Look into grants or funding from government for community projects.
Engage with architecture and engineering schools and students from the start of each project and get funding assistance from universities.”
“Could Arkitrek be a school and a practice, something like the Bauhaus?
Could Arkitrek link to a university commercially?
Could it show architects and engineers how to work together?
Could it run projects for different levels, ie- year 1, year 2, year 3 etc?
Could it link students with communities?
Could Arkitrek give sustainability lecture and workshop tours- field tours on bikes?
Could Arkitrek subdivide their projects as ‘people’ (urban projects) and ‘planet’ (rural projects)?
“From the People, To the People
Get more exposure among the local community.
Get people to realise their ownership and sense of belonging in or throughout activities Arkitrek is doing.
Develop links with local communities so that they can suggest their needs and demands, how they want their own local community to look like and to develop, ie- in foods, craftwork, cultural and architectural heritage, tourism for self- sustaining communities.
Arkitrek acts as a facilitator, a dream realiser.
I want when people talk about Arkitrek, they will appreciate us and feel a sense of pride in themselves who were involved in the development of their community.
Develop recyclable materials as a moneymaking enterprise in Sabah. Arkitrek should help develop awareness among people. Arkitrek could build with recycled materials and villagers or people therefore put in effort to recycle, hence teaching them to take care of their environment
All in all, regardless in which direction Arkitrek grows and develops, Arkitrek should have this philosophy: ‘Engagement of the larger community as the ultimate receiver.’ In other words:
From the people, To the people”
Sally, Nick, Zhen Ron, Catherine
Thank you for all your suggestions- there are some really exciting ideas here. I hope we got everything down that you mentioned? Did we leave anything out or misunderstand anything? How do you think the manifesto is looking so far? What things do you think we should include? Any other comments? This also goes to past participants and volunteers, as well as all our friends and contributors. We’d really appreciate your input- thank you very much!!