Sharing our methodologies is sharing power. It’s being able to transmitto those whom we are with and those we with which we work, the knowledge, processes, and tools that they can use for their own initiatives, even to enable them built a kind of counter-power...
It’s explaining, showing... that our “knowledge” is based on our personal experiences, and those which have been passed on to us - Patrick Geddes, Christopher Alexander, Louis I. Kahn... that these knowledge and methodologies can be, like Patrick Geddes' “thinking machines”, to which each one of us may have access.
We can no longer just improvise and make do.
Everything has to be rethought.
Why do we treat infantilize not only children, high school and university students, but generally the whole of society.
We all spend years in institutions of learning, as in a vacuum, following a curriculum totally detached from real life, from experimentation, from the discovery of things, and about ourselves.
Teachers are like stuck in straight jackets, imposed upon them or that they voluntarily assume, and from which they can but rarely extricate themselves.
Where, in our schools of architecture and engineering, are the workshops, the tools, the technical laboratories, the nearby construction sites?
We have the responsibility of not remaining confined in the "nursery" of the universities, but going out to innovate, to go forward, by creating educational experiments like those in direct contact with the local inhabitants.
The usually accepted educational practice of teaching by progressive steps, by levels of increasing complexity, is not to be accepted as unchangeable.
Making suggestions, juxtaposing ages and educational backgrounds are certainly not easy to do, but every experience in these directions is a step on a long evolution.
A committed education
The “militant university” of Patrick Geddes
In the USA, India, then in France, I have been deeply involved in educational experiments, which are at the crossroads of the university, architecture schools, and a specific environment.
• In 1968, at the time as one of the key persons at the School of Architecture of Ahmedabad, I left this position, and with about fifteen students, both Indian and foreigner, for two months we stayed in villages close to Junagadh in Gujarat . We lived and studied the ways of life, focused on key issues, on the spatial organization of the village and the living areas, the corresponding farmlands, slopes and the water and irrigation system.
• From 1969 to 1974, the Cergy-Pontoise experimental extension school, was a rich and full living experience for many students faced with a city in the making.
• Some years later, while teaching in the Paris-Belleville school of architecture, together with the local authorities, we created Public Architecture and Urbanism workshops in Coupvray and Quincy-Voisins, two villages close to Paris. Meetings were held in the small city halls. This experiment allowed us to alternate between working in the field and doing regular studies.
• This was followed, by a proposal for the creation of city and village "living museum", a more permanent form of community institution, allowing for the interaction of local bodies and inhabitants with information of the past, for meetings and works in progress, together with alternative proposal for the future...
• Returning to Ahmedabad in 2008 and 2009, the architecture school, having become CEPT (Center for Environment Planning and Technology), housed the Sabarmati River Workshops which marked a significant, although obviously unfinished, step towards a method of multidisciplinary study, taking as an example the 400 kilometers of the river.
It concluded with an interactive exhibition in a totally “non-university” environment: the biggest open market in the city.
This type of involvement continues with the citizen's community forum "la Manufacture des paysages", with a whole variety of public oriented environment awareness programs, including a small van which goes directly to villages' public market and squares, with interactive exhibitions meant to initiate discussions