Anna Heringer, born October 1977, grew up in Laufen, a small town at the Austrian-Bavarian border close to Salzburg. At the age of 19 she lived in Bangladesh for almost a year, where she had the chance to learn from the NGO Dipshikha about sustainable development work. The main lesson was the experience, that the most successful development strategy is to trust in existing, readily available resources and to make the best out of it instead of getting depended on external systems. Eight years later, in 2005, she tried to transfer this philosophy into the field of architecture. Together with Eike Roswag and a team of Bangladeshi and German craftsmen she realized the Meti School in Rudrapur, Bangladesh, that she has designed in 2004 as diploma project at the University of Arts in Linz.
It is designed as an experimental workshop: less plans but lots of dirt.
The method „Clay-storming“, developed with Martin Rauch, was used at MCH. This is a more intuitive approach to building and designing.
It is often rather sad that all the great researches and analyses seam to end up in grids and blocks and same-looking facades, and although for sure those systems work well, not everybody can really embrace them with their hearts. Why to design like that, while in our holidays we go to historic towns in Europe or vernacular villages in Africa or Asia? There must be a way to get this quality again in our designs.
It is probably a lot the question of materiality and the process of building, that’s why a part of the workshop deals with earth architecture (how to build with earth), but a big part is an intuitive and emotional search for quality of spaces. It’s about avoiding the difference in designing for poor countries or for rich – since inhabitants in Europe or richer parts of the world have no rights to consume more resources than those living in poor countries, just because they can afford it.
So it is about philosophical discussions around sustainability and housing, a training of common sense logic, but less analysing.
A site in Africa is chosen: Makeni, in Sierra Leona.
The workshop starts working with the clay in a more abstract way to get a feeling for that material (free shapes and fantasy houses), just to get the creativity in flow and to learn a bit the techniques and then gradually scale up to free urban patterns.
During the second day, an emotional research is done to find out which are the spaces that participants liked when they were between 5 - 9 years old. These experiences are often rather archaic, and more or less very similar - no matter which cultural context we talk about. The task is to go back to childhood memories, to find out how were these spaces in the early childhood, make collages, sketches models, etc... and also to find these spaces represented in the city.
During the third day, free clay works are done. Just at the fourth day, information about the site and technical informations about earth architecture are given.
On the fifth day presentations take place around the working models, including sketches, floor plans, sections, ideas, collages… which represent the architectonical spaces resulting.