Saturday, October 30, 2010

The building permit

The last couple of weeks we have been working with the building permit that has to be submitted before the real construction can start in the park. We were caught a bit by suprise by the sheer amount of clearances and plans that had to be filled out, and it's a lot of work to get everything done. Now we are looking for engineers and architects that can sign our drawings. It will be a big relief when everything is submitted in a couple of days (hopefully)!

The checklist Barangay clearance, tax declaration, a bunch of permits, construction log book, architectural, structural, plumbing and electrical plans. The list goes on and on!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"Cinema at Streetlight Park" by Nerren Homeres

Nerren Homeres have been so kind to write another wonderfull text about the developement and preparations for the new study centre. Check out her text "Cinema at Streetlight Park" .

Thanks Nerren :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Alex the Great knocked out by Dengue

Resting! Now safely covered by the mosquito net!

Last week Alex didn't feel to well. He had fever and according to all the symptoms it was likely to be dengue. Everyday he had to go to the hospital to take blood tests and after a while he got the nickname "Alex the great" by the nurses. The blood test should be taken in the finger tip but several times it where taken other places. He also a experienced interns screaming for moral support while trying to take the blood test. Now he feels much better and certainly knows a lot about blood tests!


Friday, October 15, 2010

Morning at the study center

Smells good! The abobo pork is soon to be ready outside while the mothers are preparing the fried fish in the indoor kitchen.

Early in the morning things start to happen in the kitchen beside the study center. Three of the mothers started to prepare the food at 3:0 am. Today they were making fried fish for breakfast and adobo pork for lunch. The food from the big cooking pots smelled delicious. It seems like the scholars agreed. I must say that they were in an impressively good mood for being there 5:00 am in the morning. High school starts at 6:15 am and elementary at 7:30, so between 5 - 7 am 38 kids are dropping by to get a good breakfast and a lunchpack. It is a good atmosphere when the kids are sitting around the same table eating, talking and making jokes.

Good atmosphere! The scholars enjoying there meal before school!

Lunchpack! Todays menu is rice (of course) adobo pork and Fita crackers

In the future when the new study center is ready it will be space for more scholars. Today the mothers are bringing the food in big bowls from the kitchen to the study center where the scholars are eating. Today the kitchen is close to the study center but in the future it will be a bit further away. This has been the big topic on the meetings whit the mothers. One solution was to bring the food whit a trolley - which is a good idea. But how to get there without getting wet? Proposals for solutions has been covered pathways or a big umbrella on a trolley or some kind of cable car were you can draw the food between the kitchen and the study center. We will probably find a good solution in the next meetings.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The cinema, it`s finished!

The cinema screen a place to gather and discuss the future study centre!

The suggestionboard and suggestionbox

The suggestion board and box is located next to the entrance of the existing study centre building

Now that we`re closing in on the building phase there is a strong need for a common place to put up ideas and thoughts conserning the builldings. The board will be a place for us to put up updates on the weekly developement. This will hopefully be a place for everyone to come with new and fresh ideas, comments, agreements/ dissagreements and so on. Those who wish to stay anonymous can put their idea in the suggestion box, those who wish to show their idea can put it up on the suggestion board. Hopefully this will be a good arena for discussion.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lets make something together!

What to do? How to make a meeting place? Where should we make it?

Let`s make something together! Something in front of these coconut threes! We neet to make a place where we can discuss and exchange ideas about the study centre. A cinema, a place to gather and discuss the project! A screen that doesn't fall down because of strong winds or destroy the great view from the park. Let`s make something different!

Is this wood Lauan? Lets start with buying two beams. We could try to make a frame for the screen with these.

Walking around the market area next to Seawall together with the fathers we could find a lot of handmade ropes. These were a bit more expensive than the nylon ropes you could get in the big hardware stores. But these were made localy, outside the city of Tacloban. The fathers also knew some local stores next to seawall that sold different wooden materials. Is this something we could use to make the cinema?

Let`s focus! Where should we put the screen? How high should it be? What size?

But how big should the screen be, and how high up should we mount it? Let`s try it out with some coconut wood and ropes! Lets make a wall of ropes! Lets use the ropes and the wood to put up a frame between the coconut trees. Inside this one we`ll make a semi permeable wall of ropes.

We made 142 holes in the frame and connected the holes with 21 roles of abaka rope, equal to 171m of rope. This is fun!

Finlay, its almost finished! Oh no! It is raining, lets make a roof! How big does the roof have to be to cover all the kids? Waow, it looks like a classroom, is this a good size for the elementary school in the study center? Lets make a dummy for the study center in front of the cinema of abaka ropes.

The roof was covering a space of 32 square meters. This roofing could fit as many children as the old children center with the dimentions 7,5x7,5m. But it is not big enough for the estimated amount of kids in the new study center.

Eenie meenie! Let`s dance! Grooving to Sean Kinston with the speakers on max volume.

Let`s look at the pictures from the making of the cinema, dance and watch a movie. We`ll listen to Sean Kingston, Usher, Justin Bieber, Jason Derulo and Yiaz! And the later we`ll see a movie, "the Last Airbender."

The last Airbender! Considering that the screen would not bend away to the winds, it was a good choice of the kids to watch the last airbender.

This cinema will be used to show weekly updates about the development of the study center. Good night :)

Monday, October 4, 2010


Tacloban city is divided into
138 villages called Barangay. Officially Tacloban city has 178 639 inhabitants (according to the 2000 census). But the people living in the slum areas are not accounted for. In reality the population is above 300 000 people. Most of these people are living in dense slum areas next to the seaside. Seawall is such a community. The scholars that are currently enrolled in the study and development program are children from this barangay. This is the home of the fathers, brothers and mothers we have been working together with in developing the study and development center.

Today we visited Seawall together with the fathers and brothers of the kids. This visit made a massive impression on us. Our expectations were high and we were really anxious to get to know more about the environment of our friends from seawall.

Seawall is a densely built area with a lot of garbage, open sewers and improvised homes. Everything was basically stacked on top of each other. The buildings by the sea have a foundation consisting of many layers of garbage. These were buildings built with wooden frameworks of timber from coconut threes or wooden logs whit palm leaves cladding. These buildings are built on top of the water because of the immense density among the people living on land within the limited area of the seawall barrangay.

On land the buildings seemed to be consisting of combinations of wooden frameworks and walls of halo-blocks. These buildings were even tighter stacked together creating small, humid and dark streets.

The public spaces were minimal and consisted mostly of the local basketball court, the church, pool table area and small rooms for drinking tuba (a local coconut liquor). Because of the density of buildings the streets are quite small, dark, humid and filled with garbage. These conditions have also made the barangay vulnerable to plagues, illness and several fires. The latest one was 12th of september 2006.

But the strongest impression of this visit was too meet the wonderful people living there. During our stay we met some of the mothers, some of the children that we know, as well as some of the fathers that no longer is working with us because of illness. It was really a different experience meeting all these wonderful people in their own community. In addition to the people we already know loads of kids followed us on our walk through Seawall.

The people living in this area rely on work every day to be able to bring food to the table. That is one of the reason why people not are trying to improve the conditions of their environment. Seawall has also for a long time been considered by the government as an area that has to be erased in favor for a huge road. The inhabitants would be offered new housing outside of town. At the architects office they told us that their goal was to clear the area through political interventions and strategic planning.

After returning from Seawall we had a thousand impressions. But we all agreed on that putting the new study center in the park was a good idea. Before we had been wondering if it right to build the study center so far from the community as the park is located today. But after seeing the conditions we agreed with Erlend that it is important for the children to get out of seawall as well. The park is then a good alternative to the dense and humid streets of Seawall. The park would also be a public space for the scholars, their families and other inhabitants of Seawall.

Friday, October 1, 2010

"The making of the new study centre" by Nerren Homeres

Nerren Homeres & Erlend Johannesen talking on the building site

The staff at streetlight is so kind and helpful to us. We would especially like to write a few words about Nerren Homeres. She brings a lot of joy, good ideas and good motivations into the project. She is a nurse and a talented writer and recently she wrote a very generous text about the making of the new study and development centre. Check out her beautiful text "The making of the new study centre" at the streetlight facebook page. Thanks for your support Nerren!!!

Meeting the mothers after a week's hard work

Open air study This week we have been leveling the site, making it possible to do mock ups and preparing for the foundation work.

Every friday the mothers have a meeting at five, discussing the past week's events, and organizing for the week to come. Today they could have the meeting in the new study center. Even though the roof and walls were missing, everyone agreed that the location was spectacular. We had just begun working in 1:1 with furniture, bamboo poles and ropes to sketch out the footprint and sizes of the new building on site. This is the easiest way for everyone, including us, to feel the spaces and understand what's going on.

Yes ma'am! We gave and update on what we had done the last week, and said that it had been great to dig with the hard working fathers.

This week we have continued the digging process, and are now almost done with leveling the area between the two old foundation walls, as well as removing large piles of soil and trash dotted randomly around the site. Digging is a good workout for the body, but after a while it becomes tiresome, especially for the mind, and a couple of the fathers were happy to start working on a new suggestion box with Ivar. Having zero bamboo skills Ivar quickly became superfluous, and simply had to sit back and watch the guys do their magic.

Mr bamboo Nestor seemed happy to finally be able to use his crafting skills.

After the mothers were finished with their meeting and it was our time to talk, it of course started raining, and we had to swiftly carry the furniture into the old study center, and continue there. Pointing out of the windows we asked about the distance between the closest footprint and the existing kitchen. We quickly got the answer that it was too far away, especially when it was raining. Most of the mothers suggested that we should build a kitchen in the new study center. We explained that first of all we already had a new fully functional kitchen, and there was no money to build a new one. We also explained that if we put up to many buildings, the park and the views will be destroyed. Also, the kitchen would only be used a couple of hours every day, and then just stand in the park as an obstacle, while the study center is flexible can be used all the time.

Ladies first Filipinos really, really hate to get wet!

It was a bit of a relief when the they understood more about the conditions of building in the park. This also seemed to trigger the creativity of the mothers, who now started drawing and thinking of other solutions. The most common suggestion was to build a covered walkway from the kitchen to the new buildings to avoid the rain. We said it was a a realistic and good idea, but that we really wanted other alternatives as well. Nerren explained that in the hospital she is working, the food is always moved in carts. With a big umbrella or roof attached to it they could avoid the rain, and the cart would also help organize the food and the cutlery. One trip would be enough, and the mothers would not have to walk back and forth like they had feared. Another interesting idea was that we could stretch a rope from the kitchen, and then just slide the food across the courtyard. It was a fun session, and we hope the soon-to-be-finished suggestion box will be filled with even more ideas!

Sketch it! Language barrier is no problem when people lose the fear of drawing.


Office of the city architect

Thursday we went to the office of the the city architect. The chief, Danilo M. Fuentebella, took some time off his schedule to tell us about architecture in the Philippines and the ongoing projects in Tacloban. Right now the biggest priority is to organize and upgrade the seaport, which today is a bit messy and unfuctional. This however, costs money that is not in the budget, and the office is now pumping out attractive proposals and renderings to try to get funding from inverstors from the state and the private sector. Other projects in the works are extending the mayors office and building a new bus station. Mr Danilo is a busy man who also has a thriving private practice, and his assistant architect Siegfried B. Solajes was ready to continue our converstation. Before we left the chiefs office, we were invited to go on a guided tour of the city's construction sites, which sure will be interesting.

Siegfried showed us around the office, which basically was one middle sized room, where everyone from draftsmen to structural engineers were sitting and working at their computers. We talked about education (the architect himself being a teacher), and the big difference in conditions for architecture in our two countries. Here in Tacloban the most used materials are concrete, hollowblocks, steel and glass. There is a skepticism towards using wood because of the high moisture content and problems with termites. Wood is also expensive in this region. He told us that architecture in the Philippines is largely inspired by American architecture. Many projects even have a touch of postmodernism. Native materials like bamboo are at the moment basically only used in interiors. We are now looking for an architect we can collaborate with on our project, and before thanking for our visit, we got the contact information of a local architect who has a lot of experience working with bamboo and other native materials.