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At the end of May, five students from our Interior Design programme (Rijo, Tanvi, Monica, Shamees and Harini), and lecturer Maria de la Guardia, joined Global Citizens for Sustainable Development (GCSD), a Bangalore-based non-profit and non-governmental organization, for a hands-on experience that took students out of the classroom and into the real, dirty world of Design.
GCSD’s mission is to engage and empower all individuals to sustain communities, cultures and societies while promoting their social, economic and environmental conditions through the notion of human responsibility. One such project, called Raise the Roof, brought together a group of international volunteers and an experienced mason to construct a brick house for a family in need, in the rural village of Mallasandra on the outskirts of Bangalore.
Despite working in early monsoon rains and with rudimentary tools, during the 10-day build stone foundations were moved and laid, bricks were stacked and filled with mortar, and a metal roof was secured in place.
Returning to college, students brought back with them an improved understanding of the housing construction process, developed construction skills, and an increased awareness of environmentally friendly materials and components such as solar powered lighting.
But crucially they also gained a better understanding of real-world design, and the physical processes required to implement what they, as designers, draw with their Computer-Aided Design software, which can often be far removed from the reality of a project.
They also returned with an understanding of how a house can change lives, a better understanding of teamwork, communication and responsibility, new problem solving skills, and an understanding of what it is to live with limited services in basic conditions.
All of these have strengthened their abilities and broadened their understanding of their responsibilities as designers.
Our involvement with GCSD on a real-world project has led to further opportunities for all students at RMI Bangalore, and we look forward to many more.