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Ovakent Design 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: 2013

Within the scope of Abandoned Rural Schools Project, a design workshop was held between October 25th and November 9th, by contribution of 20 students and 4 members.

The aim of the Ovakent Design Workshop was to transform the idle school building into a vocational school for mentally disabled children. On the first leg of the workshop, we visited other schools for mentally disabled in İzmir on October 25th. With the assistance of one of the managers of another vocational school, we visited Konak Disabled Vocational School, Hasan Tahsin Disabled Vocational School and Örnekköy Disabled Vocational School. We obtained information on functions and needs of these schools. We witnessed and watched the classes and workshops of the students. The highlighted part was where students participated in physical work. This helped us understand and identify the types of workshops and classes which would cover the basics of our planned project.

The next day, on October 26th, we made a trip to Ovakent, Ödemiş. Participants were divided into groups to examine the school and its surroundings. Each group concentrated on the points they wanted to work on after conducting the general review. After a few hours of in-group work, we shared ideas about the school by help of the information we had. The convenient situation of the school allowed us to establish the school’s program. Besides the planned renovations, addition of some units was also talked on.

The second part of the workshop was held in İzmir on Saturday, November 2nd. We discussed what the participants put emphasis on during the week. We produced, ideas about the mechanism of the school through research and sketches. The most prominent workshop was the agricultural workshop because the school was located in a large garden. We functionalized the school’s agricultural workshop as the main workshop by linking other workshops to it. We added clay workshop, handcraft workshop and music workshop to the program. For the functioning of the school, we reserved 4 of the classrooms on the upper floor for academic courses. We put the rest of the units in the building to the places connected with the garden. In general, participants were given 1 week of study time in order to improve the project.

The third part of the workshop was held in İzmir on Saturday, November 9. Our goal in this one-day workshop was to bring the project to a spot and plan the work that would emerge in the future. Participants made a presentation about each team’s ideas. It was a useful work in terms of taking comments on emerging ideas and listening to new ideas. Working area of each team has been determined. Ovakent project continues through regular meetings with workshop participants.

The fanzine created with the collected data at the workshop can be found here.

We would like to thank Ödemiş District Directorate of National Education for contributing to the realization of the Ovakent workshop and Ercan Mermer, the manager of the Konak Private Vocational School, for his support and help with disability education.