The last few days have been very productive. Fortunately, I finally managed to get hold of some of the people I have been trying to contact since I arrived. The interviews I have carried out so far have been a vital tool to identify various issues related to my research.
The focus group I did with the architecture students was definitely one of my favourite moments! It was very interesting to understand the students' perspective on some of the problems currently affecting Luanda's bairros. They seem to be fully aware of these issues and also wish to be part of a solution as future architects. It gave me hope knowing these students will be able to actively participate in the much needed reconstruction of their country in just a few years.
Also a few days ago we had a very interesting moment in Chicala. During the seminar on urban development, which took place at University Lusíada of Angola, I had the pleasure of meeting Axel Koschany, a German architect with 20 years of professional experience and with an assumed interest for dynamics of informal settlements. His lecture, entitled 'Global becomes Lobal becomes Glocal', was thoroughly enjoyed by myself as well as by everyone else in the room. We had a nice chat afterwards about the issues he had addressed and so I decided to propose a challenge – visit Chicala! Axel immediately said yes and ended up bringing two more people with him, Filip de Boek and Ann, two anthropologists who were also in the seminar.
Next day we picked them up from the city centre and came back to Chicala where we spent a nice few hours walking around the bairro. We had a really nice time!Axel is now back to is work in Germany but I hope he still carries in his heart what he has experienced here in Chicala. And of course, that such experience can also somehow positively inform his professional practice.
I really wish more people could visit such places and demystify the false ideas constructed around them. If all goes well – and I get to do enough interviews by then – probably I will invite the Portuguese architects I met during my first week in Luanda for lunch this Sunday.
It's my last weekend so I need to prepare something special :)