Afaina de Jong on Visual storytelling

Last week, we organized the second workshop for our students participating in the “we the people” graduation studio. This time: a hands-on session by the multidisciplinary architect Afaina de Jong on Visual storytelling.

During this workshop, Afaina de Jong – creator of the book  ‘For the People, By the People: A Visual Story of the DIY City’ – introduced the students to her vision on what architecture and the city can be in the 21st century with a DIY attitude at the heart of the city making process. She explained how photography could be used as a tool to register urban trends and to create a consciousness about what movements can serve as a basis for sustainable urbanism rooted firmly in local communities.

The students were asked to think about questions as: How do we tell a story using visual means? Why do architects go to a site, take hundreds of pictures and then come back to the office without having really looked at the place? How can we look at places and see, discover what’s already there? What are the stories that already exist on our sites, that pass in front of our eyes without us even noticing? Why do designers have to make up stories if they are already there?

Loaded with a bundle of visual content (videos, pictures, drawings, etc.) from an unknown place, students were asked to look attentively and discover the underlying narratives in the area. Then they had to rearrange all that information into a basis for an architectural intervention, that represents the local people and their needs, while at the same time connecting to the bigger picture of what plays nationally and also internationally.