Ecoweek from Greece to Kosovo: teaching and learning
Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 8 ottobre 2015
On Saturday October 3, one month before the opening of the ECOWEEK conference in Thessaloniki, ECOWEEK held its international conference and workshop presentations in Pristina, Kosovo. Architecture students from the University of Prishtina ‘Hasan Prishtina’ presented proposals of design, design-build, and visionary design activist projects in selected locations in the city.This is the second international conference and sustainable design workshops ECOWEEK is organizing in Kosovo. The workshops of ECOWEEK, which last for one week, expose young Architecture students not only to the principles of sustainability and sustainable design, but also to the importance of locality and entrepreneurship as well. Students experience the development of social cohesion and mutual support, re-use of public space, restoration of life in abandoned places in the city and are empowered to dare to think, envision and do.
The modern history of Kosovo is more or less known. The country became independent in 2008, but has not been fully recognized by the world community. With unemployment reaching 45% and unemployment among young people exceeding 55%, the country’s economy is based by 15% from funds that come from migration – based on official data and by a larger percentage per unofficial estimates. Migration of young people and young professionals who flee the country in search of work and a better future in Europe. But given the current crisis of thousands of refugees moving from Syria to Europe, through Turkey and Greece, Europe has reached its limits in absorbing additional refugees. Whether they come from the Middle East or Eastern Europe or the Balkans.
So the question is how to address unemployment through sustainable design? One solution is to create new jobs to absorb the young professionals. According to the International Monetary Fund, the creation of new jobs in Kosovo are not enough to absorb young professionals. The solution proposed by ECOWEEK was to nurture entrepreneurship and empower young people to create themselves their employment through planning processes and initiating projects on their own. In addition to envisioning and shaping the future they want.
So, during the ECOWEEK workshop in Pristina., a team of architects, communication designers and internationally acclaimed artists, opened new perspectives for young architects. They guided them to discover their own way to act in their city, claiming, for example, the public space for pedestrians that has nearly disappeared from uncontrolled construction and the dominance of cars. To redefine the open space in which they live, creating welcoming meeting points, for rest and socializing. To reuse wisely ‘waste’ materials and give them new uses – instead of ending up in a landfill, a stream or a forest, threatening the natural wealth and biodiversity of the country. Learning from the traditional manufacturing techniques – almost identical to the techniques of the building guilds of the Balkans – for the use of local materials, including adobe and local passive solar solutions. One of the workshops dealt with proposals for the design info point in the park Germia northeast of Pristina, which the Municipality isinterested to build in collaboration with the local WWF.
In other words, by empowering and educating, young architects in Kosovo, ECOWEEK is assisting them in two ways: on one hand ECOWEEK offers young people in Kosovo a platform to develop their professional knowledge and skills and realize their potential in their own city, and their own country. Second, by strengthening the local community ECOWEEK is offering an alternative solution to migration, a huge problem currently facing all of Europe. Finally, this process of empowerment gives us an important lesson: by teaching we learn the value of entrepreneurship, courage and action, procedures which may also help also young people in Greece.