Dehradun, India 2012
The planning, setting up and building of a training center for women in the informal settlement of Chander Nagar to learn wood block printing.
Project Chander Nagar was a collaboration with the Indian charity Nanhi Dunya which ran twelve schools, primarily for children from economically deprived backgrounds including those with special needs. Having initially been invited to renovate the school’s classrooms, it became evident when working with the parents of the children that they rather needed a craft training space for the older children as well as some of the parents. The setting up of the training programme was done in collaboration with a small woodblock printing factory in the nearby village. In addition to setting up the programme, a small facility for the mothers was built within the community for gatherings and producing woodblock printing textiles. The training facility became an important social space for the mothers that were confined to their homes. During daytime the facility would serve as a multifunctional classroom, and a training center during the afternoons. The building was named ‘Rangshala’ – a Hindi term deriving from the words ‘rang’ (colour) and ‘shala’ (school). Enclosed by timber slats, but otherwise open to the surrounding playground, the Rangshala is a well-ventilated space that is cool, shaded and dry during the hot and rainy season. During the winter months when the interior air temperature of the existing classrooms is very cold, the Rangshala is warm and sunny. The structure was designed and built collaboratively with the local community, skilled craftsmen, a local contractor, and a team of students invited from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and the AA Visiting School.