CCW DESIGN LECTURE SERIES in collaboration with TrAIN Research Centre: Saif Osmani (Spatial designer/artist/architecture curator)



Baasher Ghor Benjamin Garcia, Costa Rica

This event is free and open to all

This is a new lecture series on Monday evenings. The series is created as part of the design courses at CCW in conjunction with TrAIN, primarily for graduate students who are studying Design and Design History across CCW. Lectures will address critical issues and research methodologies that are currently being debated in the field of Design. Speakers will be invited widely from design historians, theorists and practitioners.

Bamboo spans a third of the globe, coming into the architectural limelight every 7 or so years. Recent bamboo structures include ROEWU Architecture’s house at i-lan, Taiwan (2008), Simon Velez’s pavilion, the Nomadic Museum in Mexico City (2009) and Doug and Mike Starn’s growing installation ‘Big Bambu’ on top of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (ended October 2010). These newer constructions appear to enquire and often jar against the material’s innate cultural attachment, with bamboo increasingly being placed alongside other wood samples, a mere decoration on a building’s envelope; moving further away from centuries of art, craft and architectural discourse existing in the southern hemisphere.
This lecture will begin by with the parallel modernist design movements which took place in Asia, Europe and America, in particular the cultural reforms inside Japan around the time of World War II, where in a bid to constitute its own kind of Orientalism, bamboo became a tool in Japan’s cultural imperialism towards governing the wider East Asian identity. Around the same time South Asian countries entered a time of partition and displacement with decades of politically problematic regimes, still prevalent today in current day Pakistan and Bangladesh. With an increase in activity from non-government organisations, foreign agendas and agencies began influencing aspects of national ideology, with the vernacular shifting further towards bamboo being viewed as the ‘native’ or ‘poor’ people’s material.

The changing spatial configuration of the village compound in Bangladesh will be investigated as well as the histories of a bamboo ‘psyche’, propagated by Titu Mir (1782-1831), the rebel peasant leader who built the notorious Bamboo Fort against the zamindars and colonialists, alongside more recent examples of Mohammed Yunus’s Grameen Bank Foundation, where in an attempt to build homes for the ‘ultra poor’, the scheme has brought bamboo closer to realising its short comings and superiority over its perceived counterpart, concrete.

Saif will also be speaking about an international art and design platform called Baasher Ghor or Bamboo House (in Bengali), aiming to draw stronger parallels along cross-cultural lines and arts disciplines, open debate and discussion on current discourse concerning the use of Bamboo. With a clear footing in the UK, the project consists of a month-long exhibition, publication, a residency, international workshops and talks bringing contemporary issues of sustainability, ethical practice, ethnicity, nationhood, theory of neo-colonialism, neo-traditionalism and ‘native’ disciplines to the forefront, in order to offer solutions and facilitate problem-solving through a collaborative process of shared understanding and active involvement on the field. Baasher Ghor has received over 25 respondents from across 4 continents, ranging from artists, sound artists, designers, architects, poets and oral historians.

Saif Osmani is a Spatial Designer/ Visual artist/ Architecture Curator. He has over 5 years experience working on a variety of architectural, landscape and urban design schemes in and around London from social housing, theatres to community spaces. He is visiting tutor at Canterbury University for the Creative Arts and a former Chelsea alumni.

This event is free and open to all

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