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Valentina Marcello: Under her eyes

Architecture against gender-based violence in Nepal.

The master’s thesis is included in the framework “On Continuity and Identity, Limited Resources”. The aim of the project is to respond to the needs of limited resources areas in an efficient way and without compromise their way of living and identity. I had the chance to spend a month in Nepal to study their culture and both vernacular and new architecture. The first encounter with the new experience was the capital of Kathmandu and later, thanks to the workshop organised by the association of CEPP, the village of Ratomate and for the last weeks the jungle area of Chitwan and mountains in Pokara. Being able to experience a big number of diverse regions, gave me the insight to make observations and comparisons to make my Master Dissertation project grounded and with a solid base.

I started the bases of my research in the village of Ratomate, when an old woman one night told us a story about the struggles she had to encounter in her life. Because of her I started to look at the role women play in a patriarchal society like the Nepali one and the idea that architecture can provide and help injustice motivated me through the whole process. In this project, by understanding the role played by the built environment, the cultural and social implications and the social injustices, the design attempts to offer new opportunities to victims of gender based discrimination. It deals with psychological trauma, homelessness, employment opportunities through counseling spaces, a women shelter and community healing process. The project recognizes the need to replace social stigma with acceptance and brings together victims of the same environment by giving them a safe space to heal and repossess their life. The building strategy addresses the need for a repeatable model that can be adapted to the different regions, molding to different needs and environments. The ground tests are the city of Kathmandu and the rural village of Ratomate.