10.2014 - 06.2015
Silent voices works within the post-colonial context of Chittagong, Bangladesh to rethink the notion of conservation. The current approach to former colonial buildings is that they should be retained as articles of antiquity. A lack of funds and political stalemate has left many sites in limbo, as hilltop enclaves fenced off from day-to-day life in the city.
Darul Adalat, a former Portuguese watchtower, crumbles into the forrest while a paper war is being acted out on its behalf. Authorities want to preserve it as a museum while the Jamaat Youth Corps plan to raise it to the ground and construct an Islamic library in its place. Silent Voices investigates the concept that marginalised communities possess inherent potential to re-shape their city as collectively active system through proposing construction method facilitated by rickshaw transport. The aim therefore is to divert the focus away from archiving towards elevating active, but under-served groups in the city.
This construction method is conducted in a series of steps. Firstly, the ruin is occupied by squatters in a ‘palliative’ manoeuvre. Over time their framework re-organises to generate a livelihood for live-in residents. Through the mediums of photogravure and etching, the drawings physically transform the material of the ruin, pressing layer upon layer into the paper. Ever-shifting and mutating, the project generates a counter archive to celebrate knowledge which has never been written down. It initiates alternate ways to engage with built remnants to question who or what has the ability to create history in a rapidly urbanising cityscape.
Scaffolding erected. Cycle rickshaw workshop established and employing two carpenters. Interior walls of existing building are dropped and bricks sold to finance the project.
Colonial outhouse converted into store. Curator employed to manage the process. 8 rickshaw drivers employed full-time. Possessions brought to site. West stair cycle access ramp.
Permanent spaces established within the ruin. Tenant possessions accumulate in the storage system. First tenants move in.
Palliative structure disbanded as cast elements are established within the building. Families becoming permanent residents. Links to other hilltop enclaves.