The Meeting Place and the Café Women

The Meeting Place – Workshop with the Café Women

Higher students have also served as an engine in the process pursued in this part of the project. When the architecture students were to have a lecture and workshop with a well-known South African architect, Carin Smuts, with long experience of collaborative design in the poor suburbs of Cape Town, the pilot project invited Hammarkullen residents to the workshop. The invited residents were members of a newly started group called The Meeting Place and, on the initiative of the social welfare office, ten women involved in a catering course as part of a labor market measure. Both groups were interested in the small red building on the square that had recently been vacated. The Meeting Place people wanted to open the building to promote integration between different groups and the ten women wanted to start a café or restaurant there.

At the workshop, social work, teaching and architecture students as well as members of The Meeting Place served as the South African architect’s assistants, and during the course of one day they worked, together with the Café Women, to come up with five different design proposals for how the building could be used. This activity, too, brought with it both joy and sorrow. The process had a happy ending in that the women were able to start their café. The sad part was, some people would say, that the café is in the city center, not in Hammarkullen.