My thesis project celebrates the Ordinary lives of Gambian women through architecture.
Westernization and colonialism savaged societies across the world which they considered as less progressive. The Gambia was formed through negotiations between Britain and France for the country that was formerly Senegambia, and was divided into Senegal and The Gambia.
The ‘West’, a self-derived notion, positioned itself as developed and the rest as ‘in need’. Western Governments and charities then sought to help out these ‘deprived and primitive’ people, to help improve and better their societies, often ignoring the cultural significances for their own concept of progress, which often resulted in damage to the societies’ self-sustainability. It is often forgotten that these communities themselves contain values and knowledge that should be valued.
The mentality and faith in the concept of ‘west’ developed today , many of the countries and residents are declared ‘undeveloped’ and accept that they are unable to function without help, in many cases this has been increased by globalization. However, an advantage for globalization is the ability to travel to these communities and document their cultures and lifestyles. These communities should not be restricted from adaptation, nor forced to change to the new world, but they must be recorded so that the acquired habitus and cultural knowledge are not deleted. This is the driving force behind this project.
The project investigates the everyday life and culture of Gambian women through spatial mappings and the making and designing of costumes and architecture. The project proposal is an itinerant exhibition that celebrates everyday life actions of these women. The final result is a composition of pavilions that are designed to show and show costumes that highlight and emphasize special qualities of such actions.
The village of Kassi Kunda, in the Eastern provinces of Gambia was chosen for two reasons. First, it is a society that is labeled ‘undeveloped’ and secondly. I have invested interest in the village because of my involvement with the development of a new vocational school, which is currently under construction in the village.
This thesis is an alternative to the idea of ’development’, and rather than thinking about ‘improving their lives’ is the goal to incorporate and emphasize the value of their culture. It retains their former untold practice that something should happen to society, such as the presence of the Vocational School. It does not aim to change gender roles or change women’s way of life, instead of celebrating and celebrating their skills and the value of their present life.
The purpose was to design an extraordinary experience for the female residents of Kassi Kunda, using their usual routines. This thesis was carried out in several phases. It started with a research trip where observation was conducted. This was followed by mapping which led to costume design and ended with the design of an exhibition and event celebration their actions through the costumes.
The village of Kassi Kunda itself sits in the upper river region of the country and is considered one of the most traditional villages in The Gambia. There are about 300 inhabitants living in 12 connections, which in basic Western understanding are family groupings of country houses, but in fact, they are a complex family structure network, where the compound courtyard performs the role of the living room, the kitchen, the dining room, etc in a multi generational house.
The project used 7 ordinary daily actions carried out by women in the village as the basis for the project. These were chosen because I found them qualified tasks that I did or could not even try or contrast with my culture.