The first Indian Ocean Network of Architecture Schools (IONAS) workshop (26 January – 8 February) was hosted by the Reunion Island arm of Ecolé National Superier d’Architecture Montpellier (ENSAM). The goal of the workshop was to develop ideas for a 65 hectare site in the Reunion Island city of Le Port. The site is currently a quarry that forms a break between the two rapidly developing towns of Le Port and La Possession and forms the backdrop to the new container port of the Island.
Participating students from ALVA, ENSAM, Chandigarh College of Architecture, and ENSAM Reunion worked in groups to develop masterplan ideas for a sustainable, high density 21st century city.
Reunion is a tropical island with a unique climate and an extraordinary ecosystem. Since an aggressive program of development was launched in the late 1970s by the French government, a great deal of work has been done in collective housing projects adapted to the tropical, cyclonic climate. The city of Le Port, in transition from a traditional industrial port structure to a modern container logistics hub for the island and the east African seaboard, has been in the vanguard of the initiatives that have driven this urban redevelopment. The aim of the workshop project was ‘to create a dense urban area in the immediate vicinity of the town centres’. The context of the project was timely for the West Australian students given the attention now beign paid to the development of our ‘tropical’ North West coastal cities.
The second week was spent further investigating some of the building types proposed in the master plans by the various groups.
Fortunately for the ALVA students the official language of the workshop was English but they were grateful to their native French-speaking hosts for the effort that they made in this regard.
According to some of those that attended, ‘the workshop was intense, with the group working each day in the School of Architecture and then de-camping each evening to the hostel, 1000m higher up the mountain, to eat and work on into the early hours of the morning. Dealing with new landscapes and climates, cultural differences and foreign languages was demanding but fulfilling: while everyone’s nerves at times were stretched close to their limits, a great spirit of cooperation and collaboration was established and will likely continue among the participants into the future.’
ALVA Studio co-ordinators Patrick Beale and Bill Busfield thanked the Reunion staff and students for the fantastic job they did of welcoming everyone to the Island and hosting such a successful workshop. They hope to participate in further IONAS workshops, giving ALVA students increased opportunities to study abroad and develop into ‘global citizens’.
Assistant Professor Patrick Beale | Discipline Chair, Architecture | +61(0)8 6488 1562