To those who always lament about the new generation students’ lack of interest in public affairs, here is a team of vibrant young students who have turned a 15-cent abandoned space in the heart of Kollam town into a peaceful evening hangout spot. The third year architecture students of Bishop Jerome School of Architecture in Kollam took a 15-cent land at Asramam under lease and made an attractive hangout space there using common waste and easily-available materials such as bamboo, used sacks, mud, coconut husk and shells.
The student team took up the project as part of a national competition being conducted by the National Association of Students of Architecture (NASA). As per the guidelines NASA provided, the students have to find a live place in the town and recreate it using waste materials. Asramam ground is a famous public ground in Kollam and the recreated area is a part of it.
“The spot is at one corner of the ground and has been abandoned by the natives. The whole area was bushy and messy when we began cleaning work as part of the project. It took us almost one month to finally get the area ready for the modification work,” said Diya Sosa Cheriyan, one of the leading participants in the team.
The team included 21 students from the college and their first hurdle was to find a suitable location in the town and get it for lease. “The whole procedure was tiring. We had to meet many officials before we attained the land. The lease period was 10 days, but now the Municipality and the district administration want us to retain it, as our project has been a boon to the public. Everyday a number of natives arrive at this location for spending their evening,” said Thoufif, another participant.
Though the project is part of a competition, the students say they want to retain and do more in that project as the public have been greatly benefited out of it. “The whole idea was to do something advantageous for all. The modification activity needed only two weeks. The process began in late July. Our team used to spend hours together working on it. Most of the days, we used to work till 7:30 in the night,” Diya said.
After witnessing the crowd who come there to spend evenings, the district administration has now changed their stand regarding the period of lease and asked the students to maintain what they have done in the area. “This is adjacent to a pathway and I used to walk through this pathway earlier itself. Since the whole area was filled with bushes, it was really difficult to walk through it. Now people can walk without fear. The students deserve recognition for the great effort. They have done a commendable job with little time and expense,” says Ganga Krishnan, Head of the Department at the college, who is also a native.
It cost only around Rs. 25,000 for the students to complete the work. The leasing process cost them around Rs.10,000. The main installations are seating arrangement made out of bamboo, mud and sack. Besides, swings and other bamboo-made installations are also there in the park. For the game lovers, the park is an ideal spot for playing carrom. If the district administration supports by providing fund, the students plan to elaborate their work with lighting and other arrangements.
The students have already submitted photographs and video required by NASA for the competition. The winner will be declared in October.