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Ovakent Construction Workshop

Abandoned Rural Schools
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For whom: İzmir Ödemiş Ovakent Village, mentally disabled students from Ödemiş Region
With whom: University students
When: 2014
Blog: http://ovakent.tumblr.com 

As a part of Revitalizing Abandoned Rural Schools Ovakent Project, 9-23 July 2014, a construction workshop carried on with 37 people team by HiM members and university students. Ovakent Mentally Disabled Vocational School Project, which started one and a half years ago, has come closed to an end with this workshop.

The construction workshop became the most important part of the project’s participatory design process that has been carried out by various participants, such as the Ovakent neighbors, İzmir and Ödemiş Directorate of National Education and university students.

Through Ovakent Construction Workshop, HiM members and university students made close relationships with the villagers and learned local construction techniques.

Ovakent was a municipality of Ödemiş, İzmir which had 4 neighborhoods. After the new metropolitan municipalities law, the municipality is closed and became a one mukhtar neighborhood. The population rapidly decreased from 7000 to 2000 after the tobacco production of the zone is stopped. That’s why, Kemal Atatürk Elementary School, one of the two schools in Ovakent, was closed for 5 years.The school which was located in the old Cumhuriyet neighborhood was chosen as the project spot because of the high demands of Ovakent’s locals and Ödemiş Directorate of National Education’s demands for a place for mentally disabled vocational school. Ovakent school was bigger than a standard rural school which has 2 floors, 6 classrooms, 1 multipurpose hall. Having enough space for the new usage, its constructional statues and having 3 acreages of garden space are the physical reasons of choosing Ovakent. Ovakent Construction Workshop carried out in two sections; school works and garden works. During these synchronized works we helped the craftsmen in the school for fitting and repair works. Meanwhile the facade was painted by the craftsmen, interior was painted by the participants. In the garden section following works are carried out; destruction of the kitchen/storehouse where the new cafeteria will be built, transformation of the old coal cellar in the backyard into an agricultural atelier, plastering this atelier and the garden wall next to it with earth plaster and renovating the sitting unites where the olive and pine trees.

During the workshop unplanned situations and some difficulties made new possibilities to arise. As an example, when a participant discovered the reed bed next to the river, we decided to make the backyard fence that was not on the plan before since we didn’t have enough material. After the reeds are cleaned and cut due to the measurements, they have been used as backyard fence and also the door and the windows of the agricultural atelier. Another example, the woods that are ordered for the roof have been used as fences for the garden since they came in wrong dimensions.After the old kitchen/warehouse has been crashed down the firebricks are cleaned and used in the oven construction in the garden.

The oven construction was an important example of the strong friendships that have been made with the neighbors and the workers during the the workshop.

The idea of making a garden owen came up during the conversations with the locals and built thanks to the skilled workers’ experiences.

Construction of the oven was a useful production in terms of learning a new construction practice and most importantly making a place that will be used by the villagers and the school together in the future.

The old coal cellar that has transformed into an agricultural atelier, was used as gardener’s house until the school construction in 1967. There is a well under this construction, in the stream bed.  There were structural problems at the roof and its side wall against the river. We took the debris inside the building away then underpinned the roof and rebuilt the wall against the river. We took off the bricks over the roof and used them throughout on top of the garden wall in order to protect the earth plaster. We plastered this building and the garden wall with earth plaster. For its windows and its door we made joiners by using the reeds.

We stayed in a 2 story house with 3 rooms, 1 kitchen, 1 entrance hole and a small backyard during 15 day-workshop.The house was belong to the skilled workers we worked together and was unused for 8 years. The villagers prepared it for our stay. Havva Abla helped us for cooking and house works during the workshop. Presentations, movie nights  and garageband activities in the house made participants became closer. In August, HIM members’ visit to Ovakent in order to complete the construction turned into another workshop with the participants will. You can follow the articles, photos and videos of July workshop through this blog. You can check the workshop photos from here. Also the record by Cenk Dereli for his radio program ‘Açık Mimarlık (Open Architecture)’ is here.

Many thanks to National Education Directorate of Ödemiş District, Ovakent Cumhuriyet neighbourhood Mukhtar Hüseyin Temizel, skilled workers Mehmet and Vural Bağlan and the whole Bağlan Family, ‘Havva Abla’ and the whole Ovakent neighbourhood. Also many thanks to all of the supporters who let the Ovakent Abandoned School Project happen.

Participants: Alican İnal, Altıner Yıldırım, Anıl Taşdemir, Ayben Aydoğan, Begüm Sarışın, Betim Bülbül, Burak Yıldırım, Cenk Dereli, Ceren Sözer, Çağrı Çakmur, Deniz Paçacı, Didem Veryeri, Dilara Kara, Efecan Soysal, Elif Aydın, Emre Gündoğdu, Erdem Üngür, Evrim Kafa, Gizem Bozkurt, İdil Yücel, İlter Sönmez, İrem Sönmez, İrem Yıldız, Kadriye Özdemir, Merve Gül Özokcu, Mustafa Demir, Muzaffer Çınar, Nilüfer Çalışkan, Oğul Öztunç, Oğuzhan Çokgünlü, Özlem Altun, Selin Gürel, Setenay Doğan, Setenay Kamazoğlu, Sinan Dağ, Şizen Türkal, Tarık Keskin, Valeska Wagner, Yağmur Kutlar

Supporters: Ant Yapı, Çevre College, DYO, EAE Aydınlatma, İnci Holding, Kalebodur, Erginoğlu&Çalışlar Architects, Schüco, Ödemiş Municipality, National Education Directorate of Ödemiş District, Veryeriler, Yapı and Kredi Bank, Vehbi Koç Foundation, TÜSEV

Ali Berkman, Banu Tatari, Bağlan Ailesi, Hüseyin Temizel, Ovakent Muhtarlığı, Zeynep Ceren Erdinç

Blog: http://ovakent.tumblr.com

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