The Behrampur Health Quarters is a neighbourhood located in south-eastern Ahmedabad, housing a very pro-active Valmiki community.
For quite some time now, women have been gathering every evening in one of the neighbourhood terraces to teach themselves reading, writing and arithmetic skills. This initiative, led by local Ankitaben (a young B.Com. student) and supported by other enthusiastic volunteers as Pushpaben and Sarojben, arose from the prevailing difficulties women faced to carry out daily tasks like reading instructions for public transport, or doing mathematic operations to handle their money. However, this independent drive of empowerment has not only improved their quality of life, but also opened them to ambitious future projects.
Now, even though this enterprise takes place in an environment that is self-generated, it lacks the appropriate infrastructural qualities to accommodate educational activities due to direct sunlight, extreme heat, and lack of privacy. Quality of space, is an issue that hinders their learning processes.
The ‘Gyaan Ashray’ (Hindi for Knowledge Shelter) proposes to support this initiative through the means of light infrastructure.
It emerged as part of a winter school programme offered through CEPT University, with a course entitled ‘Light Infrastructure: Construction as Activism’ by proposing to build a pop-up classroom with the students and in close contact with the leading members of the community. “Light Infrastructure” refers to a public architectural device constructed with the minimum amount of resources and energy required, while maximizing the impact on the infrastructural processes that make up a settlement. In this case, the targets were set on educational, political and cultural networks.