COM(M)A

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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.

Before

Before

After - Chalkboards for communication within the community

After - Chalkboards for communication within the community

After - Behind the chalkboards lie colours to beautify the space even during the winter season

After - Behind the chalkboards lie colours to beautify the space even during the winter season

Before

Before

After - Playground to bring in families to activate the space

After - Playground to bring in families to activate the space

After - Community made pavers to vitalise the space

After - Community made pavers to vitalise the space

Before

Before

After - A pergola to provide community common space to have parties and gatherings

After - A pergola to provide community common space to have parties and gatherings

After - A detail of the pergola. Exposure of wood planks allow hanging of artwork and decorations

After - A detail of the pergola. Exposure of wood planks allow hanging of artwork and decorations

Before

Before

After - A repaint of the interior made the space feel more vibrant

After - A repaint of the interior made the space feel more vibrant

After - A tool shop was organized and set to allow residents of the town to borrow needed equipment to fix their homes

After - A tool shop was organized and set to allow residents of the town to borrow needed equipment to fix their homes