|The Fifthteenth Annual Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectual Design Excellence 2013|
Ben Wokorach - Proposal
Campaign for architecture, one way of improving accessibility in Kampala
Sometimes I couldn’t imagine myself being a semifinalist in Berkeley’s prize easy writing competition. Well! It’s great self-belief and determination that has brought me this far; a self-belief of letting loose to receive, a self-belief of being part of positive change in the world today. It’s this belief and determination that brought me to Kampala city to start pursuing my journey in architecture, a journey that was partly inspired by my uncle who is an Architect. I wanted to be like him; study architecture, get rich, buy a nice car, marry a wife and build my own nice house. A course I was willing to take to relieve me and people around me from poverty.
The sight of the city was amazing for the first time and being a boy who grew up in the country side, the views of glimmering sky scrapers against the blue sky and the city’s traffic rhythm was something I would feast on over and over again. Traveling in and around the city inspired me more and made me appreciate the different aspects of it. Two years of engaging more intimately with the whole city while at architecture school through class exercise and personal initiative gave me more understanding of the city. Despite of the beautiful glimmering buildings, the city still poses several challenges to me and everybody around me especially the physically impaired. It is almost impossible to walk freely without being cautious about vehicles and commercial motor- cyclists. Despite of zebra crossings, it is almost impossible to cross roads without running. Most of the public buildings like national theater and many others don’t have access for the disabled; some that have seem an afterthought. It was a painful journey to discover the truth. The circumstances of my experience gave me passion to redefine my purpose in architecture; I wanted to be part of positive change in the city.
Cities play a vital role in meeting the needs and aspirations of people from all walks of life; it is the accessibility however that concerns me. In my essay “Mulago, the beaming accessibility orator”; I proposed tangible design solutions to make Kampala city more accessible. Solutions like well-defined and protected pedestrian walk ways, well defined pedestrian crossings with install audio and visual gadgets that aids in crossing,accessible open public spaces with support facilities like parking spaces and others. Being true to myself, the major question that remained unanswered is how will all these be achieved? I seek to get some answers to this question from Campaigning Architecture (AA/UIC Global Workshop, London 2013)
Campaigning Architecture is a design-research workshop organized by Architectural Association and University of Illinois Chicago Schools of Architecture. It’s an initiative that explores different effective ways for architects to campaign and make thought-provoking changes to our urban environment. The 15 days global workshop is based on the fact that architects provides solutions in our urban settings and most solutions are not implemented due to reasons that dwell around social, political and economic hurdles especially developing countries like my home country; Uganda. Campaigning architecture involves strategies that enable participants to combine the potential of design intelligence with the strategic power of propaganda in order to get things done in the city. I would particularly like to attend this Global Workshop; it is an opportune workshop for me to develop other skills and solutions to improve my city’s accessibility other than design and refine my essay proposal. For this year, the workshop will be held at Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. The Campaign strategies will engage the city like no other: from the London Cycling Campaign to provide a collective voice for the City’s cyclists; to the cross-party campaign to bring London’s air quality into compliance with World Health Organization standards; to London’s successful bid for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. I hope to take part in this endeavor to acquire the necessary skills to create that positive change in my city Kampala. London is a city with rich culture and rich fabric of heritage and modern architecture. I believe engaging with it will not only provide answers to my question, but also deepen my understanding of the social art of architecture. It will also further my research in this year’s topic ‘the architect and the accessible city’ and also give me the chance to experience London.
In my tribe there is a saying that “whoever doesn’t travel thinks their mum is the best cook”. For us in Kampala accessibility takes two dimensions, a design social sense and a legislative sense. London being the Olympics host in 2012; an event that involves people from all walks of life, it has taken several approaches to make the city more inclusive which I am curious to explore and bench mark it with my city Kampala. “This summer we had the Olympic and Paralympics Games in London: disabled people traveled to more places and events than at any other games. Even when transport was really busy disabled people could choose how to travel around London”, London mayor, 2012. In the document, the mayor further explained that flexibility of the public transport system offers choice and dignity to its daily users. The public transport system includes; rail tubes, London rail, buses and taxis of which all are totally accessible for free to the disabled.
I have been involved in different class and outdoor group projects. I believe it will be amazing to engage in a team of different professionals and people from different cultural backgrounds and cities. It will therefore be an excellent opportunity for cultural exchange, sharing of different views and building network with an international group of like-minded students and professors both within the groups and the broader context of London city. In my free time I will explore London’s pedestrian realm, the flexible public transport system, major public places like the Olympics stadium and document using a camera, notebook and sketch pad.
Today I am in the fourth year of my architecture studies and to me architecture is not just about itself, but a life time journey to shape the world we desire, a tool for humanity. Being in a city where most development has to maneuver around politics with lots of bribes and corruption, campaigning architecture will not only be an architectural contribution in achieving universal accessibility, but will also initiate a new meaning and value to architecture in my city. One scholar wrote that in the not-so-distant future, humanity will belong to the cities that understand the power of universal accessibility. I would like to be part of the journey to the not-so-distant future of humanity in my city, a course I am willing to take to relive me and people around me from the injustices of our urban environment.
PROGRAMME Starts Friday 21 June – Ends Friday 5 July Week days are for studio work and site visits All Saturdays’ and Sundays’ are free time for social events and exploring London
ITINERARY 19th June– Arrival by flight (Entebbe to London) 21th June - 5th July - Attending the workshop 7th July – Departure by flight (London to Entebbe) Participation fee £695=1049.45 USD Accommodation fee– 49 USD/Day, 19 days = 931 USD Travel and meals– 56 USD/Day, 19 days = 1064 USD Round trip flight (Entebbe- London- Entebbe) by Ethiopian air = 898 USD Total= 3942.45 USD
REFERENCES Workshop website - http:/dairy, archpaper.com, http:/www.aaschool.ac.uk/STUDY/VISITING/campaigning.
London mayor 2012, your accessible transport network,[pdf] London available at-http:/www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/
Programme Director - Kirk Wooller Architectural Association Visiting School Coordinator - Priji Balakrishnan Email address: email@example.com
MY FACULTY MEMBER TO BE CONTACTED Dr. Stephen Mukiibi head of architecture department Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
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