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ACD Announce Inaugural Fellow


Created to provide in-depth research and introduce best practices to community designers, the Association for Community Design has selected Allentza Michel for the first Fellowship program. A Boston native with 14 years of experience in community revitalization, education, urban planning, and more, Michel will engage in a 2-week intensive project with Latent Design and Foundations College Prep in Chicago. The Fellowship will commence in April and seeks to inform future practice collaborations organized by ACD.

Click here to read more about ACD’s Inaugural Fellowship, online at CommunityDesign.org.

Colorful, Solar-Powered Housing Emerges in Burundi


New York-based architect Louise Braverman recently worked with nonprofit Village Health Works to design and construct a colorful and inviting 18-bed dormitory for healthcare workers in Kigutu, Burundi. Built with locally produced bricks and brightly painted wood panels, the building’s electricity is supplied entirely by solar energy. “Sustainability is not an added benefit in Kigutu. It is a necessity,” Braverman told Dezeen. Along with these functional features, the architects incorporated areas for socializing and pause:

“The porosity of the porches encourages sociability, enhances airflow into the adjacent sleeping rooms, and frames unobstructed romantic transverse views of the landscape,” added Braverman.

Read more about Village Health Works Staff Housing here on Dezeen.com or here on LouiseBravermanArchitect.com.

Image courtesy of Iwan Baan.

12 Projects That Will Change the World in 2015


We teamed up with TakePart to bring you the most impactful design, architecture, and engineering projects launching around the world this year. From technology that turns human waste into clean drinking water to a low-cost insulated tent that could save thousands of lives, we’ve selected two mind-blowing designs from six regions of the world. Check out these concepts that are paving the way for what’s possible in 2015.

Lend Your Sight to the Blind with Be My Eyes

Danish philosopher and craftsman Hans Jørgen Wiberg and software design studio Robocat recently launched the Be My Eyes app to connect blind and visually-impaired people with sighted helpers. Wiberg, who started losing his vision at age 25, introduced the idea at a startup event in Aarhus, Denmark, in April 2012. He was seeking to build an app that will make “the everyday life of blind people easier” and a “new flexible opportunity to volunteer.” Since the startup event, Wiberg and the Robocat team have been developing the idea into a smartphone app that works like this:

Through a direct video call the app gives blind people the opportunity to ask a sighted volunteer for help, for tasks that require normal vision. The blind person “lends” the helper’s eyes all through his or her smartphone. The sighted helper is able to see and describe what the blind person is showing the sighted helper by filming with the video camera in the smartphone. That way, by working together they are able to solve the problem that the blind person is facing.

Like us, you too may be wondering, “how do blind people use an iPhone?” Be My Eyes has the answer to that: The iPhone has a great feature called VoiceOver which enables people who are completely blind to use an iPhone with synthetic speech and touch-based interface. With over 21,469 people helped since launching on January 15th, Be My Eyes is quickly on it’s way to enabling more “small acts of kindness.”

Click here to read more and download the Be My Eyes app, online at BeMyEyes.org.

Impact Design at 2015 AIA Convention

This year’s annual American Institute of Architects Convention takes place May 13-16 in Atlanta, Georgia. Thursday, the official first day, will be kicked off with a keynote by the esteemed 42nd president Bill Clinton, who has since created the Clinton Foundation to improve global health, strengthen economies, promote health and wellness, and protect the environment. The 4-day convening is jampacked with myriad tours, events, and seminars. We scoured the schedule of activities to find the best ones in impact design, including sessions on public architecture, equity in design, resiliency, wellbeing, and diversity.

Wednesday May 13 (Preconvention)

8am-12pm WE107 – The Living Cities Challenge*

8am-12pm WE109 – 4 Steps To Build Your Ideal Architectural Practice*

8:30am-5:30pm WE201 – HURRIPLAN: Training for Resilent Building Design in Coastal Communities*

9:30am-12pm ET124a – Small Space Big Idea: SCADpad Revealed*

1:30pm-4pm ET124b – Small Space Big Idea: SCADpad Revealed*

1-5pm WE309 – Public Architecture and The Public Architect: Technology Implementations Issues*

1-5pm WE310 – Equity by Design: Knowledge, Discussion, Action!*

Thursday May 14

7:30-8:30am TH101 – Defining an Agenda for Resilient Design

7:30-8:30am TH104 – Life Cycle Assessment at the Speed of Design

7:30-8:30am TH110 – Enhanced Engagement for Better Design

7:30-8:30am TH111 – Resilience: Do you have it? How to get it?

7:30-8:30am TH112 – Community Engagement: Professional and Academic Collaboration

7:30-8:30am TH113 – Social and Environmental Justice in Architecture: Ethical Urban Design

7:30-10am ET124c – Small Space Big Idea: SCADpad Revealed*

9-10am TH202 – Framework for Resilient Design: Lessons from New Orleans Go National

9-10am TH204 – Post Occupancy Evaluation: What, Why and How?

9-10am TH215 – Mind the Gap

3:30-4:30pm TH302 – Beyond Single Building Toward a Community and Regional Resilience Approach

3:30-4:30pm TH305 – Beyond Green: Designing to Support Health and Wellbeing

3:30-4:30pm TH309 – Justice for ALL: Embracing Diversity in Civic Design

3:30-4:30pm TH311 – Learning Spaces Design for the Future Ethnically Diverse American Classroom

3:30-4:30pm TH313 – To Build or Not to Build: Is that the Question?

3:30-4:30pm TH314 – Widening Pathway to Profession: Coalition Community College Architecture Programs

5-6pm TH413 – Not So Big Community: A Vision for Our Collective Future

Friday May 15

7-8am FR113 – Hidden Cities: Shaping Public Health

2-3pm FR203 – Design Innovation: How Architects Can Lead in Building Resilient Communities

2-3pm FR204 – Gimme Shelter

2-3pm FR206 – Economy, Environment, Okay; What’s Happened to Equity?

2-3pm FR214 – How We Use Evidence to Better Our Practice

2-3pm FR217 – Making Meaningful Architecture: Community Engagement in Sandy Hook and Beyond

2-3pm FR218 – Cities Cleave: Social Action in Practices Both Traditional and Non

3:30-4:30pm FR302 – Infrastructure, Resilience, and Public Space

3:30-4:30pm FR305 – Healthy Communities: Improving Health Impacts Beyond the Building Envelope

3:30-4:30pm FR306 – Resilient Design: Designing at the Regional and Urban Scale

3:30-4:30pm FR311 – Designing Supportive Environments for People with Low Vision

5-6pm FR403 – Pop Up Nation: Design of Temporary Installations

Saturday May 16

8:30-9:30am SA206 – Three Firms’ Approach to Integrating Research in Practice

8:30-9:30am SA214 – Architecture Students Design / Build / Learn

Are there any we missed? If there are any you would like to add to the list, send the name to submit[at]impactdesignhub[dot]org, tweet at @ImpactDesignHub or post it on our Facebook page.

Click here to see the full schedule of events at AIA Convention 2015, online at Convention.AIA.org.

*Sessions with fees

FastCo Features Skid Row’s Star Apartments


Michael Maltzan Architecture‘s most recent project with Skid Row Housing Trust was recently featured in Fast Company. Completed nearly a year ago, the prefab Star Apartments were designed to not only house people living on the streets but also to provide supportive services and coveted semi-private spaces to improve quality of life, such as a big community garden. As the architecture firm’s third residential project for the formerly homeless, they have incorporated feedback from residents into the new building:

One of the criticisms about some of Maltzan’s previous residences for the Housing Trust was there weren’t enough laundry rooms—laundry was located all in one central location. “A lot of those things that we take for granted outside become very important, very special spaces for people who have lived on the street for so long,” he says. “In the Star Apartments, we split the laundry rooms, one for each floor, and they have these views into the city and beyond.”

Read more about “Michael Maltzan’s Quest to Remake Housing for the Homeless” here, online at FastCoDesign.com.

Image courtesy of Skid Row Housing Trust

D-Rev in NEA Magazine: “Focusing on the Impact”


In the recent issue of NEA Arts Magazine, D-Rev’s prosthetic ReMotion Knee took center stage on the cover accompanied by a feature article on the organization in “Focusing on the Impact.” Author Paulette Beete spoke with Krista Donaldson about the organization’s approach to product design and the integration of impact assessment into their process.

“If you truly want to solve a problem, you have to take more of a systems approach to solving it,” said Donaldson. “You have to understand that designing a product is maybe 25 percent [of the process] but you still have to figure out how the product gets made and you have to figure out how the product gets to the people who need it and how they are going to use it.”

Following in the footsteps of past articles and talks, this one manages to reach a new audience to introduce the concept and potential of impact design.

Read the full article “Focusing on the Impact” here, online at Arts.gov.

SVA Hosts 5th Impact: Design for Social Change Program

Entering its fifth year, the School of Visual Art‘s Impact: Design for Social Change summer program will take place in New York City. Two tracks are available for people seeking concentrated learning on social change and design: the one-week “Strategies for Creative Intervention” program runs June 21-26; and the six-week “Design for Social Change” runs July 6 – August 15. Program cofounders Worldstudio principal Mark Randall and design historian Steven Heller have curated an array of instructors from business management, design strategy, law, and more to teach classes on ecosystem mapping, prototyping, and social entrepreneurship. Applications are being accepted now until April 1, 2015.

Learn more and apply for Impact: Design for Social Change here.

Van Alen Launches “Ecologies of Addiction”


On Thursday in New York, Van Alen Institute and Imperial College London’s Sustainable Society Network will be presenting the new Ecologies of Addiction research initiative. Launched earlier this month, the initiative aims to investigate relationships between addictions and city form. In September a team from King’s College London–led by neuroscientist Dr. Andrea Mechelli, landscape architect Johanna Gibbons, and artist Michael Smythe–were selected to develop an app-based study of the impact of the urban environment on impulsivity and addictive behaviors, and how that impact interacts with a person’s individual characteristics. Following the presentation on January 29th, the team will present their findings in May 2015 at a series of public events in London, and in June 2015 in New York City.

“Addictions present a huge challenge, and we think that a better understanding of how they work spatially can shed light on many other aspects of well-being and how it is impacted by environment,” explained Van Alen’s Executive Director David van der Leer.

Click here to learn more and sign up to attend Ecologies of Addiction presentation on Thursday, January 29th, online at VanAlen.org.

Dencity Competition 2015 Call for Entries


As part of the launch of the nonprofit Shelter Global, co-founders Patrick McLoughlin and Chad Johnson initiated the Dencity Competition to address rapid urbanization around the world. With the intent to generate ideas and raise awareness, Dencity is seeking project ideas from architects, planners, students, engineers, designers, thinkers, and organizations that show how “design can empower communities and allow for a self sufficient future.” Three winners and five special mentions will be awarded later this year. Registration to participate closes March 15, 2015.

Rapid world growth and urbanization is not allowing cities to adapt and provide for their inhabitants. Towns are quickly growing into cities, and some of the densest places in the world are comprised of makeshift homes, otherwise referred to as slums. Furthermore, already overcrowded cities have to absorb people leaving their rural hometown in hope of job opportunities. There are currently over 1 billion slum dwellers in the world. This number is expected to reach 2 billion by the year 2030. Now, more than ever, we need to play a central role in the development of substandard neighborhoods. Slums effect much more than just housing; they affect almost all living conditions and communities as a whole.

Click here to learn more and register for Shelter Global’s Dencity Competition, online at ShelterGlobel.org.