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Van Alen Announce Future Ground Competition

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The Van Alen Institute recently launched the Future Ground competition in New Orleans as part of their multi-year initiative, Elsewhere: Escape and the Urban Landscape. Future Ground invites multidisciplinary teams to generate flexible design and policy strategies to transform abandoned lots into resources for residents of the Big Easy. The competition is open to individuals and firms with expertise relevant to the topic–architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, urban planning, graphic design, policy, engineering, finance, real estate, and community development. Entrants are also encouraged to partner with at least one individual or organization based in New Orleans. Registration and RFQs are due September 29, 2014.

Future Ground will develop strategies to bring small, piecemeal projects to scale at the neighborhood and citywide level; craft policy to support promising design strategies; make these strategies flexible and participatory enough to be sustained into the next generation; and share resources with a growing network of innovators who are reusing vacant land in cities around the country.

Click here to learn more about Van Alen’s Future Ground competition, online at VanAlen.org.

bcWORKSHOP Issues Call for 2014-2015 Fellows

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Texas-based nonprofit buildingcommunityWORKSHOP has announced a call for applicants to the annual bcFELLOWSHIP Program. With five openings available, the program offers recent graduates an opportunity to work with communities in Texas–Dallas, Houston, and the Rio Grande Valley–to advance the public’s interest through engagement and design efforts. Ideal bcFELLOWs will have 1-3 years’ experience in urban design, architecture, landscape architecture or planning with direct client experience and a strong commitment to public interest design. Applications–email interest letter, resume, and work samples–can be sent to Trena Lechleitner at trena [at] bcworkshop [dot] org.

The buildingcommunityWORKSHOP is a Dallas based nonprofit community design center seeking to improve the livability and viability of communities through the practice of thoughtful design and making. We enrich the lives of citizens by bringing design thinking to areas of our city where resources are most scarce. To do so, the bcWORKSHOP recognizes that it must first understand the social, economic, and environmental issues facing a community before beginning work.

Click here to learn more and apply for the 2014-2014 bcFELLOWSHIP, online at bcWORKSHOP.org.

New Book Released on Humanitarian Architecture

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A new book by Melbourne-based RMIT University Associate Professor Esther Charlesworth, titled Humanitarian Architecture, explores how architecture can rebuild communities devastated by disasters through 15 case studies. As the first of two books written as part of an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship, Charlesworth organizes the case studies under three methods of practice: private practice, university-based, and NGO and international development. Along with well-known practitioners like Eric Cesal, David Perkes, and Shigeru Ban, Charlesworth features a host of emerging designers focused on disaster relief including: Lizzie Babister of the UK Department of International Development; Hsieh Ying Chun of Atelier 3 in Taiwan; Brett Moore of World Vision International in Australia; and Patama Roonrakwit of Community Architects for Shelter and Environment in Thailand.

Never has the demand been so urgent for architects to respond to the design and planning challenges of rebuilding post-disaster sites and cities. In 2011, more people were displaced by natural disasters (42 million) than by wars and armed conflicts. And yet the number of architects equipped to deal with rebuilding the aftermath of these floods, fires, earthquake, typhoons and tsunamis is chronically short.

This book documents and analyses the expanding role for architects in designing projects for communities after the event of a natural disaster. The fifteen case studies featured in the body of the book illustrate how architects can use spatial sensibility and integrated problem-solving skills to help alleviate both human and natural disasters.

Click here to learn more and order a copy of Humanitarian Architecture – 15 Stories of Architects Working After Disaster, online at Routledge.com.

Introducing Public Interest Design – Levant

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Officially launched in February 2014, the new Beirut-based nonprofit Public Interest Design — Levant has been off to a rapid start. With a mission to create sustainable communities that enhance the quality of life for all inhabitants and encourage responsible citizenship, the team of eight–system designer Karim Attoui, urban sociologist Dalia Chabarek, designer Patil Tchilinguirian, strategist Ibrahim Zahreddine, design researcher Rawad Hajj, urban planner and architect Walid Dagher, recreational activities coordinator Karim Sokhn, and systems designer Andreas Muller–has completed two initiatives and has two more projects underway. From organizing a 5-day bicycle festival to co-teaching a summer course with UCL, PID Levant is quickly embedding itself within neighborhoods in Lebanon through relationships built with community organizations, volunteers, and residents.

Public Interest Design – Levant (PID) is an independent, apolitical, non-governmental, non-profit, and multidisciplinary organization operating at the intersection of design-thinking and entrepreneurship. Using a human-centred approach, PID works within communities and collaborates closely with the residents to map out systems and carry out needs assessments to then design and implement innovative processes that address cultural, social, environmental, and economic parameters required to positively transform urban and rural environments.

Click here to learn more about Public Interest Design – Levant (PID), online at PID-Levant.org.

Help ClassAct Build Third Active School by Friday

The ClassAct Foundation–formed by architect Aya Maceda of actLAB NYC and local organization Oplan Bangon Bohol–has surpassed their goal to raise $30,000 with three days remaining in their Kickstarter campaign. Although they have raised enough to build a second prototype classroom, all additional funds raised will go towards the third “Active School” prototype–a low-cost design to bring improved educational infrastructure to the region of Visayas, Philippines, which was devastated by an earthquake and super typhoon in October 2013.

The prototype is the implementation of Aya Maceda’s design-research project from Columbia University GSAPP’s Goodman Fellowship. The framework draws from the notion of traditional Filipino “verandah” [open living spaces]. Classrooms are bright and open-air… The structures combine local craftsmanship with modern engineering for maximum resiliency. The goal is to empower locals to maintain and repair the structure with their inherent building knowhow + innovate cottage industries [thus revitalizing the local economic ecosystem] while promoting sustainability.

Click here to donate by August 15th, 2014 and help ClassAct build their third Active School prototype, online at Kickstarter.com.

Support Within Formal Cities on Indiegogo by 8/14

The crowdfunding campaign for the “Within Formal Cities” project–created by North Carolina State University architecture graduates Abe Drechsler and Brian Gaudio–ends this Thursday, August 14th, 2014, at 11:59 PT. Supported in part by the Duda Traveling Fellowship, the duo is raising an additional $7,000 to help produce a short documentary series and online publication of their research into informal South American communities. With $4,000 raised thus far, every donation–no matter how big or small–will help produce valuable outcomes from their research.

Our goal is to share stories and designs from informal communities in 5 cities in South America: Bogota, Colombia; Lima, Peru; Santiago, Chile; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Sao Paulo, Brazil. We will document everything from self-built houses in the favelas of Rio, to government projects designed by world famous architects. Along with drawing and photographing the buildings, we will interview designers, professors, and community organizers to bring to light the creativity in which South American cities are dealing with the global housing crises. We will also create a short documentary series and online publication and present our work through a physical exhibit and lecture to bring awareness to these issues. Through this work we can challenge the next generation of architects and designers to do more, to bring good design to those who need it!

Click here to support the project on Indiegogo.com by August 14th, 2014, or click here to learn more about the project on WithinFormalCities.org.

Join Autodesk "Design Gone Good" Night Sep 4th

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Located in Autodesk‘s San Francisco office overlooking the Bay Bridge, the Autodesk Gallery hosts ‘Design Night‘ each first Thursday of the month to explore how tech is transforming different industries. On the evening of September 4th, 2014, the event will focus on impact designers and projects under the banner “Design Gone Good.” Along with an interactive design fair, D-Rev‘s Krista Donaldson will headline the evening to speak about how design is transforming communities and changing lives. Tickets–which typically sell out within a few hours–will go on sale Monday, August 11th, at noon PT so be sure to act quickly!

Design isn’t just streamlined furniture, shiny gadgets, and sleek cars. It also has the capacity to do good—to have a deep and profound impact on peoples’ lives. From cleaner portable stoves in Africa to low-cost housing in rural America, impact design aims to tackle and solve social, environmental, and economic challenges. Whether on a small scale or a grand stage, designers are finding new and innovative ways to make a difference.

Click here to learn more and purchase tickets to “Design Gone Good” Night on September 4th, 6-10pm PT, online at Autodesk.com/Impact.

2014 Core77 Design Award Winners Announced

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The 2014 Core77 Design Awards announced 34 winners that exemplify the “richness of the design profession and the brilliance of its practitioners.” Amongst the 17 categories, we were naturally drawn to the Social Impact Award, which was judged this year by leading Denmark-based design and social business leaders–Leapcraft’s Vinay Venkatraman, The Social Business Company’s Naima Yasin and Tania Ellis, Danish Design Centre’s Nille Juul-Sørensen, and Stoic’s Anand Vengurlekar.

The 2014 Social Impact Professional Award went to Saajhi Stepping Pump, a field-serviceable, stepping pump that leverages human weight and gravity to move water and irrigate crops, created by Sam Rulli and Xylem, Inc., for smallholder farmers. Young designers Christian Bremer and Erik Ohlson took home the 2014 Social Impact Student Award for Walter – Alter the Wheelchair, a low-cost, active manual wheelchair with rough terrain features and the ability to alter the center of gravity and reduce falling backwards on inclines, created with Chalmers University of Technology. A few other notable winners were: Blastproof, a hands-on exhibition about humanitarian mine removal, created by Chris Natt; Sustainability Treehouse designed by Volume Inc. with Studio Terpeluk; and the 3D Printed Personal Ekso developed by Gustavo Fricke, Scott Summit, 3D Systems, and Ekso Bionics.

Click here to learn more about the 2014 Core77 Design Award winners, online at Core77DesignAwards.com.

Feature: Expanding the Impact Design Movement

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In 2011, John Cary launched PublicInterestDesign.org with a simple goal: to fill a communication gap for the burgeoning public interest design movement. Over the past three years, PublicInterestDesign.org has become the go-to resource to read, watch, and learn about people, events, opportunities, and projects aimed at designing a better world. Interest and readership has steadily increased each year which has led to a demand for more in-depth information. This is why we are expanding upon the paramount work of PublicInterestDesign.org with the new Impact Design Hub to encompass a broader spectrum of design for positive social, economic, and environmental impact. More

SSIR: "Pop-Up Housing" on the Y:Cube

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The hip and colorful Y:Cube is a new ‘plug and play’ affordable housing concept being tested in London where rents are amongst the highest in the world. Andy Redfearn, director of housing and development for the YMCA London South West, teamed up with architects from Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSH+P) and contractors from Insulshell to design and build a lightweight, modular, and stackable single-occupancy housing unit. Journalist Suzie Boss recently reported on the Y:Cube in Stanford Social Innovation Review, noting not only the design features but also the business model behind the housing scheme–the true test of longevity and success for the concept.

The Y:Cube business model also aims for innovation. Low construction costs lessen the need for grant funding. “The whole scheme gets paid off through rents in 10 to 15 years,” Redfearn says. Four impact investors are backing the pilot project with support that includes the purchase of land. Redfearn expects future projects to attract banks and private lenders along with impact investors.

Click here to read more about the Y:Cube, online at SSIReview.org.