By Jessica Wallace
Faculty of Environmental Design alumna, Madyson McKay (MArch’11) journeyed to Bogota to volunteer with Architecture for Humanity (AFH) as a design fellow in the Colombian capital.
For three months, McKay worked with AFH ― a non-profit organization created by professionals who provide design services where they are needed most.
In Colombia, that meant spearheading the Musical Façade Project located at Gabriel Garcia Marquez School in the Soacha neighbourhood. The project, a design of a two-story musical storage unit, would also serve as a performance and gathering space for the students.
The government of Colombia currently has many programs in place to provide computers and musical instrument to schools – but only if the school can provide as safe and secure place to store them. The Musical Façade project was in response to this.
“I got involved with AFH because I wanted to contribute my skills and help those in need,” states McKay. “The idea of the musical façade was to design a storage unit which transforms into a performance space that can be adapted for different uses.”
In every project that AFH undertakes, they not only provide a physical structure, but also assist local residents to develop new skills. Aligning with this, Musical Façade engaged local graffiti artists and school aged children in designing and fabricating the art installation on the front of the façade.
“As a part of my volunteer experience, I not only participated in the design, but also worked with local graffiti artists to develop a two-day workshop for the students to engage with the construction of the art installation,” says McKay. “The AFH did a really great job of ensuring local community members had a high degree of ownership in the project. It was remarkable to work with community members of all ages who were so eager to contribute to enriching their community.”
The Soacha School has 500 students. However, due to space restrictions, students either attend morning or afternoon classes. The graffiti workshop allowed 30 students to participate, with more workshops planned for the future to enable further participation.
McKay is currently employed as an intern architect at Dialog. Her design of the Musical Facade Project is featured in the Open Architecture Network.