The project - what, how and why?

For my master project I wanted to work on a task located in a culture I did not know too much about on before hand. When you work in an environment completely new to you, you see and experience everything for the first time. When so much is unknown, you are forced to start from scratch in every process. I believe that this opens up for a clarification of these processes and gives you a unique chance to identify problems and possible solutions with a clear view.

I also wanted to work with themes concerning music, arts and scenic arts. This has been fields of interest to me for as long as I can remember and they pose numerous possibilities of working with interesting and challenging spaces.

I have chosen to use the report “Developing, constructing and managing a new Escola des Belas Artes and Umoja centre in Maputo / Mozambique” (Hjort / Becker, 2007) as a staring point for this project. The report identifies and describes the need for new areas for the three schools – Escola Nacional de Art Visuais (ENAV), Escola Nacional de Danca (END), and the Escola Nacional de Musica (ENM) – and the advantages of locating them on a common campus. This project will propose a physical answer to these needs.

I start the semester with a four week field work in Maputo in january/february. During these weeks we (Ingrid Grændsen, also architecture student from NTNU, will join me in Maputo) will try to get an overview of the conditions in Maputo, concerning climate, building traditions, economy, education and social life. We will get to know the needs of the three schools, and study the different sites proposed in the report. Through short scenario design workshops, we will end up with a final choice of site and initial concept. The rest of the design process will be done at NTNU in Trondheim, hopefully with enough sketches, photos, impressions and know how brought back from Maputo.

Due to lack of funding and political will, the process of uniting the three schools is now standing still, or maybe even lying dead. I have no ambitions of getting this project put into life, but maybe it can point to some of the potential of a possible realization of an Escola des Belas Artes in the future – both concerning the physical frame of the education at the three schools, and the benefits of uniting them.

This project is important to me as an architecture student because it forces me to rethink everything I have learned during my four and a half year of studies, without taking any short cuts. I hope it can be useful also for other students, not only by giving a peek at Mozambican culture and architecture but by giving some examples of how a task like this can be interpreted. Concerning the three schools in Maputo, even if their new campus will not be realized this time, this project will put focus on their struggle to keep mozambican arts alive, on low budgets and scarce funding.

detail of sun shading wall - apartment building

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