SEEDocs: Maria Auxiliadora School from Happy Hearts Fund, SURA and Architecture for Humanity.
Design Fellow Diego Collazos:
"One of the things that happen in Peru quite often is that we tend to have a very top-down approach to project implementation. We wanted to change that a little bit, so we embarked on a participatory design process. We wanted to engage the community from a very early stage in the project.
"We did this mainly for two reasons. First, we wanted to engage the community, let them be enthusiastic about the project. Also for us as architects it's very important to learn from the community about their priorities and their needs.
"We developed a series of activities, design charrettes and workshops. One that was very interesting was a mapping exercise in which we wanted to see how the children and community members feel about their school. They were asked to stick a green piece of paper on the areas of the school that they really liked. This gave us a very descriptive feeling about how they feel about their school.
"There were also things a little bit more complicated, like the cross. This cross represents a lot for the community. It as been in the site for many years. There were some people that wanted to move the cross, but others who wanted to keep the cross in sight. We had to get a consensus about what to do with the cross. At the end we decided with a referendum and people decided that the cross should stay on the site. This was a complicated issue but at the end I think we managed to get a positive result. I think the community is happy with the outcome."