As Karachi, the vibrant city by the sea is being blatantly urbanized, ancient communities settled along the coast are falling under extreme neglect. These fishing villages (called ‘Goths’ in the local language) depend on the sea for their livelihood. Their lives, however, are as turbulent as the ocean’s waves they combat with every day.
Chashma Goth is a small fishing village located right beside the Korangi Fish Harbor. This 170 year-old community practices fishing but faces multiple problems of illiteracy, poverty, and lack of exposure and facilities to fully realize the potential of their craft.
The project aspires to become a ‘Karsaz’ for the local community which means ‘facilitator’, or ‘coordinator’ in the local Urdu language. The programme consists of a primary school and an opportunity center. It represents the coming together of children to learn and play, the meeting of elders to resolve conflicts and the engagement of men and women to support their means of livelihood. The ‘Karsaz’ will give to the community, and so the community will give back to it, forging a unified social and economic identity.

The concept revolves around ‘interweaving’ an act inherently prevalent in the craft and culture of this village. It interweaves the villagers into the building by providing a humble design with activities to involve the entire village, and a modular classroom arrangement that blurs the boundary between indoor and outdoor learning.
The design has a permeable boundary with the village, where a wooden structure that forms a walkway, as well as a jungle gym, forms an entryway. This porous wooden structure ties the entire complex together by serving as a play area, which morphs into a walkway, a sitting space or a bridge in different areas. It connects the building from each classroom cluster to the next in an organic way, letting the children imagine worlds around it.
The center of the complex is directly linked to the village. It forms the communal eating area for the villagers and consists of coloured stumps for the villagers to sit on. A part of the central space is the playing field for the school and is surrounded by the classrooms. Each classroom cluster has a central collaborative courtyard. The walls of the classroom that open inwards, towards the courtyard are built out of concrete blocks placed in a porous fashion. This aids in natural ventilation. The rest of the walls have puncture-like fenestrations that help bring in diffused light and wind. Across the road, the jetty extends out into the sea, accompanied by the boat workshop for both children and adults. The workshops for children follow the same form as the jungle gym structure in the complex across the road; forming a connection with the building and the sea. It is provided to help the village children learn, research and improve on the skills of their forefathers. The architecture interweaves the village into itself, becoming an added limb; a tool for the community to use and prosper.



Site: Chashma Goth, Karachi, Pakistan
September 2019-June 2020

Ayela Najeeb


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