Diploma 2014: "Poetics of the Oppressed" by Alaleh Navaei

who cares?

Poetics of the Oppressed

An attempt to develope intervention strategies to identify and  empower miniature outlaws  of Tehran

A decade ago, street children were rare in Iran, with its long traditions of charity for the poor, government aid programs and strong family connections. No more. Today the estimated number of street children has grown to 200,000 or more. The rational choice approach offers an alternative that attempts to identify the positive or adaptive elements of street-life involvement and create spaces for these children to learn, play and express their childhood.

Oudlajan being one of five nucleus neighborhoods of Tehran’s old settlement with 400 years of age and the second oldest market of the city has been converted into a hub of cheap goods which has caused a great degradation of life quality plus destruction and devaluation of buildings in this macro neighborhood. Being now the backyard of Tehran Bazar, located at the very center of Tehran, the residential population atrophy has left Oudlajan with many vacant buildings and urban voids that have become ´safe rooms´ for social anomalies such as addiction, prostitution and child labor to breach in.

This project tends to give an alternative approach to the urban development of Oudlajan by linking top-down with bottom-up processes and connecting long-term and short-term issues - creating a dynamic masterplan. `Poetics of the oppressed´ is proposing flexible, incremental, and portable spaces for up to 100 people at a particular waiting site.

Enabling self-reliance is the belief that permeates everything we do. The goal of this project is to impart education and training to street children, youth and women in order to make them independent, active and essential members of the society, based on the different life education each of them has gone through. Information on child labor, education and new skills, particularly life skills, empowers street children as individuals who know their rights and can fulfill their responsibilities in the society.

As an example, with the use of theatre techniques they tend to facilitate personal growth and promote mental health - by re-acting their life stories they try to solve a problem, achieve a catharsis, delve into truths about themselves and understand the meaning of personally resonant images to explore and transcend unhealthy personal patterns of behavior - an expressive therapy.

Or a workshop could be a playground for learning skills to generate income in a more professional platform. Children’s clubs could create issue groups set up whereby children play a role in teamwork, governance and decision-making.

Integration of adult literacy with skill training and income generation or making literacy a precondition for skill training and income generation activities is an strategy that has proven to give great results in many developing countries.

The space is composed of cells that can be incrementally built and connected to each other, following the project’s own logic. The cells are connected to each other on the horizontal plan by walkways and vertically by stairs. Various patterns can emerge over time in response to the needs and means of the citizens. The conceptual influences of the project include the simple rules and complex outcomes of cellular automata models, the organic poetics of mathematics plus the strategical use of voids and spatial relationships.

All photos: Alaleh Navaei 

metal/wood workshop