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2015 SEED Award Winners Announced


Design Corps, the SEED Network, and Lawrence Technological University (LTU) announce that six projects have been selected as winners of the 2015 SEED Award for Excellence in Public Interest Design. An esteemed jury–Metropolis Magazine Editor in Chief Susan Szenasy, Ball State University Professor and OneSmallProject.org Founder Wes JanzArchitect magazine Writer and Contributing Editor Cathy Lang Ho, and Team Better Block Creative Director Jason Roberts–selected the winners based on the following criteria: Effectiveness, Excellence, Inclusiveness, Impactful, and Systemic and Participatory. The winning projects will be presented by their team members at the fifteenth annual Structures for Inclusion conference in Detroit, Michigan, April 11-12, 2015.

Join us in congratulating the 2015 SEED Award winning projects: More

Doors of Perception: In Conversation with John Thackara

John Thackara

John Thackara is a writer, educator, producer, speaker and connector in the worlds of design and transition. His Doors of Perception conference was the first gathering to bring designers and the environmental movement together. John has worked to deepen this connection in projects with cities, organizations and companies in many countries. He writes frequently on design and stewardship, and his book, In the Bubble: Designing in a Complex World, is one of the foundational texts around systems thinking and design. This interview is part of a series investigating the intersection of design and social innovation.

Allan Chochinov: John, you’ve been an author, critic, leader and producer in the world of design for several decades now. What were the key moments in your career that helped you along the way?

John Thackara:  I’m not sure I’ve had a ‘career’ – that word sounds far too orderly and purposeful. I’m one of those people whose life may possibly make sense at its end, but not before. I’ve had a good number of proper paid jobs over the years – as a journalist, a book editor, a conference organizer, a festival producer, a biennial commissioner, a university research director, and a think-tank director – but I was sacked from most of them. My habit of asking difficult questions about the way the world works at first enchanted, but later frustrated, a succession of employers. More

2nd Annual Link Festival Kicks Off Next Month


Next month in Melbourne, Australia, 400 leading and emerging social innovators and design professionals will be convening for the second annual Link Festival. Presented by Engineers Without Borders Australia in partnership with Oxfam, CoDesign Studio, Australian Volunteers International, Architects Without Frontiers, and Wildwon, the two-day festival will feature keynotes by Rebel Architecture director Ana Naomi de Sousa, The Misfit Economy author Kyra Maya Phillips, and Future Crunch co-founders Angus Hervey and Tane Hunter. As Australia’s premier design, technology, and social innovation event, participants will have the opportunity to network, share knowledge and forge new connections across sectors and between business and social impact projects.

Link Festival brings together Australia’s leading and emerging social innovators and a new generation of design and technology professionals to explore the nexus of design, technology and social change. At Link you will experience hands-on workshops, immersive sessions, create genuine connections and hear from inspiring speakers. Everyone who attends will leave equipped with the knowledge and networks necessary to apply their skills to solving real world challenges.

Click here to learn more and register to attend Link Festival February 16th and 17th, 2015, online at LinkFestival.com.au.

BONUS for our readers: Link is offering a $50 discount on tickets with the code 50DISCOUNT.

Support Warka Water on Kickstarter


The sculptural water harvesting tower Warka Water is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter to support building an in-field prototype. As previously featured here, Italian architect Arturo Vittori and his practice Architecture and Vision devised the design after witnessing the lack of access to potable water in rural Ethiopia. Since 2012, the team has built nine prototypes, testing and improving the design along the way. Funding from the campaign will contribute to building and testing the 10th prototype–and ultimately help Warka Water achieve their vision of creating a sustainable, scalable model for rural mountainous villages around the world.

Warka Water is an alternative water source to rural population that faces challenges in accessing drinkable water… WW is designed to be owned and operated by the villagers, a key factor that should help guarantee the success of the project. WW not only provides a fundamental resource for life – water – but also creates a social place for the community, where people can gather under the shade of its canopy for education and public meetings.

Click here to learn more and support Warka Water by February 10th, online at Kickstarter.com.

School Cultivates Exchange for Native Peruvians


In Southern Peru’s high jungle where coffee flourishes, the native community of Chuquibambilla recently collaborated with a team of architects to build a school. Peruvian firms Afonso Maccaglia Architecture (AMA) and Bosch Arquitectos conducted participatory workshops with students, teachers and volunteers to facilitate an exchange of ideas and arrive at an ecologically-sensitive design for education, development and exchange. Built with locally-sourced materials, the new building incorporates passive ventilation for temperature control, solar energy to power the computer room, and recycled water for irrigation. Most importantly, though, is that the new school provides access to education.

The native community of Chuquibambilla, located in the Peruvian high jungle, is the most important coffee zone of the eastern district of Pangoa and is the cultural center of the region. The children population is about 250, who are studying in very poor conditions. Some of them have to travel long distances or do not even have access to education. As it is an Indian native community, people live according to their culture and customs. They are engaged in agriculture, hunting and fishing. The community has no electricity, running water or sewage system.

Click here to read more about the School in Chuquibambilla, Peru, online at ArchDaily.com.

UCL Offering New Masters in Engineering for International Development


The Department of Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering at University College London is launching a new Masters program in Engineering for International Development this Autumn. Aimed at engineers and built environment professionals interested in working in global development, the program will “focus on sustainable and resilient infrastructure in low-middle income countries.” Led by Dr Priti Parikh, students will participate in taught modules on topics of water and wastewater treatment, urban flooding and drainage, and natural and environmental disasters, along with “practical activities” and field trips. Applications for September 2015 will open soon.

This MSc aims to expose engineers and built environment students and professionals to the challenges and complexities of working in a global context, and equip them with necessary skills and knowledge to place these in the frameworks and paradigms in which they might work… MSc Engineering for International Development graduates will be able to pursue a career in the field of engineering, working on projects in low-middle income, developing countries, as well as the broader international development sector in different capacities and within various organisations currently operating in the field, such as the UN, the EU or NGOs such as WaterAid, Practical Action, Habitat for Humanity and more.

Click here to learn more about the new MSc Engineering for International Development, online at CEGE.UCL.AC.uk.

In-Context Premieres at Toronto Design Festival


Following up on the new Canadian video documentary series on public architecture, In-Context’s first program will premiere Monday, January 19th to help kick off the first day of the Toronto Design Offsite Festival. Hosted by the Bloor Hot Doc Cinema, the screening will be followed by a short Q&A with In-Context creators Andrea Lacalamita and Raja Moussaoui. As seen in the video on Winnipeg’s neighborhood revitalization, In-Context is illuminating not only the diversity of built work in Canada but also the diversity of people. Tickets to attend are now on sale.

In-Context is a video documentary series and online story-telling platform, profiling public architecture and urban design projects across Canada. Each building and public space selected for the In-Context series has made a profound social, political or economic impact on the local environment. Documenting and reporting on projects across the country, In-Context looks at the role of contemporary architecture in addressing some of the most pressing issues facing Canadian cities.

Click here to learn more and sign up to attend the In-Context Video Series Premiere, online at TODesignOffsite.com.

2015 Red Dot Awards Now Accepting Entries


Identifying good design since 1955, the Red Dot Awards are now accepting submissions for the 2015 cycle. Honoring design concepts ranging in categories like Education, Habitat, and Protection, Red Dot received more than 16,500 applications from 70 countries in 2014 alone. As the only international design award with three design museums to showcase winning projects, the awards provide a platform to recognize and highlight early-stage design concepts from companies to design students. We combed the 2014 winners list and discovered these five impact design projects that might inspire you to submit your conceptual designs. More

HKS Launches Firm-Wide Impact Design Initiative

Global architecture firm HKS recently announced a new impact design initiative to provide services for underserved communities. Through their commitment to The 1% Solution, Citizen HKS offers employees an opportunity to participate in projects that alleviate “long-term societal problems that have far-reaching public benefit.” Joining the ranks of CannonDesigns’ Open Hand Studio, HOK IMPACT, and Perkins+Will’s Social Purpose initiative, Citizen HKS already has projects underway in Uganda and the Phillipines, along with a host of projects completed in past years. With over 1,200 employees in 27 offices worldwide, the amount of projects and potential impact could be tremendous.

HKS is dedicated to serving the underserved in the communities where we live, work and play. Citizen HKS is a firm-wide initiative aimed at empowering employees to make a difference where there is need. Through the power of design and our commitment to the 1% Solution, HKS is committed to active participation in public interest design (PID) projects that help address society’s unmet social, economic and environmental needs, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Click here to learn more about Citizen HKS on HKSinc.com.

“When Will Design Get Serious About Impact?”


Earlier last month, Dalberg’s Design Impact Group co-founder Robert Fabricant (interviewed in a feature here) took to the pages of Stanford Social Innovation Review in “When Will Design Get Serious About Impact?” Addressing a question that we hear arising time and time again amongst the impact design community, Fabricant lays out 4 shifts that designers should make to achieve lasting impact. Many of these we are seeing implemented in practices featured on Impact Design Hub; however the true game-changer will be in his last point: “embracing an integrated approach.”

The time is right to look past design as a new shiny entrant on the development scene. Designers need to reconsider an approach in which we stand out and stand apart. Funders need to reconsider an approach in which the value of design is assessed separately and embrace design as complementary to conventional methods, not separately quantifiable. My colleague at Design Impact Group, Ravi Chhatpar, and I are laying the foundation for an integrated approach by building a design and innovation group at the global consultancy Dalberg.

Click here to read the full article on SSIReview.org, and share your thoughts using the links below.