Living by and with the water

Living by and with the water

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Design-driven action research into a possible future vision, Ricanau Mofo.

This thesis is the result of interdisciplinary research in the Surinamese Maroon village of Ricanau Mofo. The report starts from an analysis of the current situation to achieve a resilient future vision through design research. The study was conducted by three Architecture students and one Urban Planning student at the University of Antwerp as part of the studio ISTT (International Studies for Territories in Transition). The study began with an intensive two-month fieldwork period on site, followed by working with the data collected in Belgium. This thesis is the compiled final result of the three architecture students.

At the request of the head of administration in Ricanau Mofo, research was initiated to develop a future vision for the village. Ricanau Mofo faces several challenges that affect the community’s quality of life. On the one hand, there is a need for village expansion and development; on the other hand, erosion problems, flooding, housing pressure and lack of social and spatial structure create constraints and challenges.

It is therefore important to think about their environment together with the community, taking into account trends that are already occurring. The opportunities the village has to offer are given due consideration while respecting the current traditions and dynamics of the community. Within the ISTT studio, the focus is on giving vulnerable populations a voice in the spatial development debate through design-driven participatory action research. The complexities of the area create a challenging design task. It is important to provide the right framework for possible solutions; it is a challenge that must be faced collectively.

The design research builds on the information obtained from a historical, architectural and landscape analysis. This information is brought together in designs for the village’s future. The study shows that residents must adapt their future homes to the vagaries of the climate if they want to continue living in the village. Various forms of living at altitude that are beneficial to the weather conditions in Ricanau Mofo are examined.

This study provides insights that can be used to feed back into practice, encourage further research and formulate an implementation plan. In addition, recommendations are provided for future students who wish to study this topic in depth. Through collaboration and realization of the results, concrete steps can be taken to improve the well-being and living conditions of residents in Ricanau Mofo.

  • Authors:
    • Mathieu Plaghki
    • Emma Goossens
    • Elke Marsboom

    • Marciano Dasai (Promotor)
    • Frederik Vandyck (Promotor)
    • Nathan De Feyter (Promotor)
  • Period:
    • 2022 — 2023  

    • Interdisciplinary
    • Architecture

    • Master thesis

    • Anton De Kom Universiteit van Suriname