Realised in June 2019 in BaSECo District, Manila, the Playhouse and Basketball Court are two placemaking projects by CUHK Architecture students with the help of the local community.
These urban interventions were part of the summer course “Mapping the Informality: Learning by Making,” where the students had the opportunity to work on real-scale urban prototypes and tested how these social projects had an impact on the community and the urban environment. All the materials used were purchased in the local district of BaSECo.
The summer course was part of Prof. Francesco Rossini’s academic research, which focuses on the incremental implementation of social infrastructure in the form of “urban prototypes” constituted of open spaces and community facilities. The notion of “prototype” here refers primarily to a process rather than a product. The insertion of these seeds of social infrastructure seeks to respond to the needs of the community in order to foster a more effective and sustainable on-site upgrading strategy.
The projects’ key innovation lies in their strategic bottom-up approaches to the upgrading of informal settlements. Community engagement at each stage of the prototyping process is essential when working in the complex environment of informal settlements, because it invites people to respond creatively to specific problems and to come up with solutions that better meet the needs of the local residents.