Manchester + Pondicherry.

Jateen Lad established Aurospace, with support from the Sri Aurobindo Society, as a unique programme providing architecture graduates with hands-on design, building and management experience on live social development projects.

In 2011-12, graduates from the Manchester School of Architecture’s stand out ‘Prototype’ unit, taught by Ming Chung and Nick Tyson, volunteered to work with Jateen Lad in Pondicherry. Working closely with the architect and his team of local masons, tradesmen and workers students engaged with pressing social and environmental concerns and contributed to designs for a green amphitheatre, sanitation building, waste treatment system, kitchen, soil erosion terracing as well as an insitu cast bridge, stonework, doors and windows on the Sharanam project.

Aurospace provided experience of a genuinely multi-disciplinary form of practice – integrating detailed architectural and material design with structural engineering, environmental design, cost management and construction.

Using the building site as the classroom, traditional skills were learnt, new materials and techniques explored and experimentation encouraged. These included: setting out, masonry techniques, the science of mortar mixes, earth technologies, precasting, steel reinforcement design, in situ concrete casting, formwork design, rammed earth foundations, earth and lime plastering, pointing and rainwater harvesting.

Taking on the responsibilities normally dealt with by  a quantity surveyor, project manager, contractor or a structural engineer has been a huge learning curve. It makes you consider things from a range of very different perspectives, which ultimately enriches the entire design process.

Megan Crouse

In addition, Aurospace provided rare site management and supervision experience teaching how the complex logistics and finances of construction sites inform the design process. Activities included the preparation of site schedules, programmes and valuations; negotiating and procuring materials; calculating and paying wages to construction teams.

Aurospace provided an inspiring and formative experience helping students shape their thoughts on education, practice and career. The programme’s success was driven by a shared aspiration for hands-on meaningful practice. By expanding their education beyond the university studio to an impoverished rural setting students experienced at first hand the power of architecture to uplift communities and make social and environmental change.

Aurospace provides an unrestricted access to a building site and allows students to witness the realisation of built form and construction techniques. This sort of exposure should be incorporated into architectural training from the very beginning.

Josh Rollin

Aurospace Collaborators: Joe Ashton, Mark Bonshek, Adam Booth, Megan Crouse, Spencer Fretwell, David Kent, Ed Martin, Josh Rollin, Matt Wood.   



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