MAHE’s Participation in iDiDe 2020 – Transcultural Collaborative Design Studio

Intercultural Dialogue through Design 2020, the 10th edition of iDiDe, was hosted by International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) in collaboration with Deakin University Australia, Manipal  Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), Manipal- India and, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) from 13th January to 4th February 2020. Students of the Bachelors in Architecture (B.Arch.) program, MAHE, accompanied by faculty member Prof. Rama participated in the workshop.

iDiDe2020 continues its focus upon rural community engagement and inter-cultural dialogue with the design of “Sen-Oi” a One-Stop Centre for the indigenous people of Malaysia. Known as the Orang Asli or Orang Kita, the communities in Gombak are made of several tribes. As with many indigenous communities, from anywhere around the world, the Orang Asli have been practicing their way of living for hundreds of years. However, with the urban fabric seeping rapidly into rural landscapes, the Orang Asli communities are constantly battling a rapid change of culture and loss of access to natural resources, forcing many into the urban lifestyle. Psychologically, many struggle to find a place and a sense of belonging in the chaos of this rapid development.

Their culture is beginning to evolve and adapt to these changes – but many practices and traditions are being lost along the way. Thus, iDiDe2020 design task is to develop an understanding of the relationship between space, form and function within this specific cultural context of traditional construction and materials. The project incorporates social and cultural considerations with the integration of building technologies appropriate to the complexity of the project, the community and the site context.

The workshop and project also subscribe to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The proposed project is the “SEN OI – A One-Stop Centre for Orang Asli”. The main aim of the Centre is where the Orang Asli can showcase and teach their culture, skills and crafts. It’s also a place where they gather with tourists who are exposed and educated in the Orang Asli’s environment and their way of life. The Centre is also a means for the Orang Asli to gain financial empowerment through entrepreneurship by selling crafts to the public. The building shall be made, in majority, out of bamboo.

(From: iDiDe 2020 Final Catalogue)

A remarkable outcome of iDiDe was the cross-boundary architectural learning pedagogy. The program was successful in bringing sustainable design goals to the rural areas pertaining to the indigenous Orang Asli community. Five designs were proposed by students under the mentorship of experts. The designs expressed the relationship between space, form and function within the specific cultural context of traditional construction and materials. Along with various activities, MAHE students had the opportunity to interact with the orang aslis, take part in bamboo workshops, and present and exchange their ideas with participants from other countries.


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