From 2010-2011, Paul Tebben and Architect Odile Compagnon, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Motorola Foundation, co-directed the multi-disciplinary studio, COM(M)A.
The studio was fueled by an exploration into the role of designers in post-disaster scenarios. In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake which devastated central Chile, we began our efforts to channel academic intellect and creativity towards a scenario worth global attention, yet grounded in local specificity.
We took acute interest in the temporary state of things, in the immediate instant between two periods of cultural permanence, at a moment where each decision and each action is critical to the continuity of a culture and to the the communities who cultivate it.
Made up of students from a broad range of disciplines, COM(M)A looked at the reconstruction scenario of post-disaster Talca, Chile - a small agricultural town located 300 km south of Santiago - from a robust array of perspectives. The studio’s efforts included rigorous research, iterative design, involvement in academic symposia, participation in town hall meetings and hands-on fabrication.
Not long after its inception in September 2010, the studio partnered with the Santiago-based & architect-led NGO, Reconstruye. Several months later, the studio also joined forces with the local Talca-based NGO, Surmaule, founded by a group of forward-thinking sociologists, anthropologists and social workers. In Talca’s neighborhood of Paso Moya, the elements of our unified project included drawings, street art, workshops in art therapy, woodworking, storytelling and film as well as construction efforts comprised of a community blackboard, custom pavers, a playground, interior ameliorations, tool storage elements and an exterior pergola / barbeque.