A day at the kampung.

“Kampung” is the malay word to describe the traditional village. One of these villages needs a new school  and I have been invited to visit the place  together with some local friends who are into volunteering, architecture and social work. We left in the morning in order to avoid the KL traffic jam and stopped on the way to get some rice for the villagers.

We have been driving for about an hour and an half to reach the Kampung. I decided to bring the guitar: it’s always good to have a jam !

Kampung Tekir is an ‘Orang Asli’ [indigenous people in ‘West Malaysia/non-borneo] settlement in Labu, Negeri Sembilan. The main tribe here is the Temuan people.The actual population of the village is actually unknown as there’s no record at the moment. We spent a bit of time to find the right way to the kampung, wich is set in quite a remote area.

At the end, we got the wrong direction so we call  ‘Rindu’. Her official name is ‘Alina’: she’s a volunteer teacher and women’s rights advocate. She runs local business, but is very passionate about advocating ‘education’ among her people, especially history. She’s the breadwinner of the family and a great storyteller. She comes to get us on her moped, together with her 2 kids, and take us to the village.

Everything started with a facebook thread: a mutual friend posted an update about her visit at the kampung and the building conditions of the local school. They needed advice on how to improve the situation and last july they contacted Karen, who works for a big architecture company in KL., and she’s got a background in humanitarian architecture and design. Eventually they put forces together and formed a team to make it work.

The actual school provides education to 30 students, aged between 6 and 17. The average familt has 6/7 kids and the monthly income is around RM 400/500 (£100/110). Parents are all involved in factory work, rubber tapping, hunting and farming.

The village needs a bigger hall, more functional in order to serve as a school, a library and a community hall. The current school build up space is about 400sqft, and due to the condition of the existing one, wich is small, very hot and damp, a new one will help the kids to enjoy the learning process in a better environment.

The new design needs to take into account the future necessities of this growing population: at least 3000sqft of space should be created in order to really improve the existing conditions.
They also need enough power supply for computers and the growing library.

The main difficulties at the moment include a very short timeframe and a very tight budget (around RM70K). Plus the amount of time needed to create a lasting solution able to cope with the tropical weather is more than the volunteers can dedicate. An extended timeframe and a sponsorship for the school will definitely help to solve those problems. The main architectural ideas for this project are:

a) Open plan
b) unfinished/unimposing for possibility of ‘extensions’
c) Recycled timber (from junkyards in the surrounding area)
d) unfinished/non-painted concreate for strong base.
e) Incorporate traditional architecture and traditional space utilization (according to customs etc)
f) Green walls and vent blocks
g) Traditional ‘Double roof’ for good cross-ventilation. Suitable for climate.

Additional ones might include:
a) Use clear roofing sheets to allow natural light in during the day (saves electricity, less claustrophobic)
b) Upcyling plastics, creative use of materials
c) Community members to get involved in the building process for better ‘ownership’ of the space.
d) Community engagement in the decision-making process

Who’s involved at the moment ?

a) Rusasina Idrus from ‘Mari Kita Membaca’.
‘Mari Kita Membaca’ is an NGO that promotes reading/ brings books to children living in the rural and under-served areas of Malaysia and to encourage the love of reading. (http://marikitamembaca.org/)_

b) Arkitrek (http://arkitrek.com/)
A humanitarian design architectural and building consultancy that focuses on sustainability, community engagement and resource conservation.
Based in Borneo.

c) Independent volunteers and organizers: Karen (project manager), Shyn (Architect), Wen Khyn (Engineer)

At the moment, ECM Libra has ‘pledged’ about RM70,000 towards the Kampung Tekir School Project.
http://www.ecmlibra.com/

However, seeing that we may need more than that to build a sustainable and functional building, we may propose a higher amount and perhaps even do independent fundraising to make it happen. http://marikitamembaca.org/

 

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