|The Nineteenth Annual Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectural Design Excellence 2017|
Vidhi Wadhawan and Sakshi Khare Proposal
Expressions of Aspirations: United by a Night.
Saeda Bi, a patient at the Bhopal Memorial Hospital (BMHRC), has her sightless eyes glimmering with hope even as she describes her struggles and her husband’s loss to cancer. This hospital is located 900 meters from the Union Carbide Plant, responsible for the Gas Tragedy. This plant stands as a reminder of how an event creates a community, united not by choice, but by circumstance. Even in their unity, there exist fragmentations, created by the impact and the events that ensued. These communities have asserted their presence through their buildings, of which the most resounding translations of the community’s needs and endeavors, in our opinion are:
BMHRC provides free treatment to Gas Tragedy survivors and their dependents who still suffer. The Central Government established it in 2001 with seventeen super specialty departments targeting the common ailments among the victims, while the research department studies long-term effects. The free medical aid provides many thousands, like Saeda Bi, the dignity and desire to live. The amalgamation of open, semi open and healthcare spaces creates an optimistic surrounding. The ethos of “Homage and Hope” is evident in the architecture, environment and attitude of the staff and patients alike.
The second community is represented by The Sambhavna Clinic. This global community extends help to this clinic in the form of funds and voluntary concern. Shehnaz, a yoga instructor from Kerala, is a volunteer here. “The months spent in Sambhavna’s hostels are the most gratifying. I have seen chronically ill patients recover through yoga and Ayurveda” she explained. The Bhopal Medical Appeal established the clinic in 1996 to provide free relief through alternative medicine. Located adjacent to the plant, it helps victims of water contamination equally.
Sambhavna has benefitted thousands of patients while offering an interesting space through its humble, innovative and sustainable architecture. Open pathways, corridors, courtyards, shaded terraces, herbal plantations and water bodies provide a micro-climate and ensure a holistic healing process.
Our third building, the Remember Bhopal Museum is a mouthpiece for those who were silenced. It is a place for asserting the right to preserve the memories of the deceased. There lays a pink sweater, wearing which baby Naved took his last MIC filled breath. Many such personal belongings of those who lost their lives, tell an untold story while the recordings of their moaning and complaining still sound fresh.
Opened in 2014, in the home of an affected family, the museum is collectively curated by the community of survivors. Vivid photographs, artifacts, posters and oral recollections document the battle of all who were harmed and their struggle for justice. The audio-visual experience and exposure to the negligence and corruption invokes rage and helplessness.
The museum due to its inconspicuous setting, the people involved, use of space and means, is powerfully symbolic of the community’s condition and aspirations. Its deep impact, despite its humble architecture, makes for an interesting study.
In our essay, we hope to explain the temporal arrangement of objects in the spaces for impact, the independent sustenance of the museum, strong principles of the Trust, future prospects and the role of the museum in creating awareness about the community.
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