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Building Trust’s 6th International Design Competition Now Open


Building Trust is a non-profit charity with a commitment to good design that both problem solves and generates progressive solutions. This year’s 6th international design competition is focused on challenging architects, designers and engineers to create a design solution that influences the future of school buildings across cold regions globally . The brief is as follows:

“Submit a proposal for a school building which will act as a safe, comfortable, learning environment for 100 pupils withstanding the extreme temperatures in Mongolia.”

Anyone and everyone is eligible to apply, even those who do not hold a professional qualification. The winners of the competition will work alongside Building Trust, World Vision, local government and the school community in Khovd, Mongolia to build the school design.

Final registration deadline is March 8th 2015 and the closing date for submissions is April 3rd 2015. Read the full disclaimer here.

Introducing New Content Curator Blaze Gonzalez


It is with great excitement and pleasure that we introduce our new content curator Blaze Gonzalez. With a background in urban design and cultural anthropology, Blaze brings a wealth of experience through a variety of roles in social impact design. She has been Director of Media with Architecture for Humanity San Francisco Chapter with a keen focus on the Open Architecture Network, along with blogging on Miami’s underground culture at Tropicult. Through her work with Project H Design, Heroes Unite, Urban Hedgerow, and the RAiN Forum, Blaze has worked on the ground with community members and partners on designing and building a range of projects. Along with her breadth of online and on-site social impact design work, we’re equally excited for Blaze to share her skills in graphic design and film to expand how we share stories here on Impact Design Hub. Join us in welcoming our content extraordinaire Blaze!

The Business of Good Design


MASS Design Group has been making waves since their inception in 2008 with the distinguished Butaro Hospital in Rwanda. Founded by Michael Murphy and Alan Ricks, MASS (Model of Architecture Serving Society) has created a precedent for the field, not only with what they design but how they design. Their approach has been forging a new paradigm for the business model of architecture from opulence to social innovation. In Ricks’ words:

“So what we’re doing is going into places that don’t value architecture, and showing—through our work—that it can add value and can contribute to the mission of our clients and their constituents with the idea that once that’s been established, then it becomes affordable. Once people can point to the value add of design, then they can make an argument to pay designers to do this.”

MASS is providing a fresh voice for the modalities of architecture and business. From their initial pro bono work in Rwanda, MASS is now working on full-fee projects for the Rwandan government.

“[Butaro] was a hospital built for a community that didn’t even have a doctor at the time,” Ricks says, “but now Rwanda has some of the strongest health outcomes anywhere in the world…. They see architecture as vital to that,” says Murphy.

Read more about the ways in which MASS Design’s approach is infusing new models for design here on Line//Shape//Space.

2015-2017 Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellows Announced


The prestigious Enterprise Community Partners announced six remarkable fellows for the 2015-2017 Enterprise Rose Fellowship this past Friday. James Arentson, Joshua Budiongan, Brita Carlson, Stephen Klimek, Annie Ledbury, and Alexis Smith were selected for this highly competitive three year fellowship to develop sustainable and affordable communities through inclusive design solutions. Each fellow has a unique set of skills to bring to their host organization. James Arentson, for example, will utilize his background in affordable housing and history with rural communities to implement holistic design practices in Slayton, Minn. with the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership.

Katie Swenson, Vice President of National Design Initiatives, explains the impetus for this fellowship:

“The Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellows have demonstrated that design has the capacity to help create a healthier, equitable and just world. With Enterprise’s goal of ending housing insecurity within a generation, the fellows’ architectural vision can have a significant impact on the future of affordable housing and neighborhood development to help us reach that goal.”

Read the official announcement online here.

PUBLIC Journal in Architect’s AIA Voices


Our friends at the burgeoning PUBLIC Journal were recently featured in the AIA Voices section of Architect Magazine. Editor-in-Chief Andrew Goodwin spoke with William Richards about how impact design contributes to the three-pronged philosophy of sustainability:

“I was brought up to believe that sustainability is a three-legged stool: economic, environmental, and social responsibility… Of the three legs of the stool, social responsibility is starting to eclipse both the economic and the environmental arguments. Why? Because if people are first supported in terms of culture and community, then their economic well-being and environmental contributions will follow.”

Goodwin also pays tribute to the many roles needed to grow and improve this field, including “writers, designers, advocates, fundraisers, project managers, teachers, and architects.” “What has helped me as an editor is my architecture training. Architecture is about analytical problem-solving. Looking at the challenge of launching a magazine, it’s really no different than the challenge of launching any other creative and purpose-driven endeavor.”

Click here to read the full article “In the Public Interest,” online at ArchitectMagazine.com.


Chasing the Sun in the Navajo Nation

“Adrian Manygoats is a modern Navajo woman who continues to hold the sun in the deepest respect, starting each day with a prayer to him. It drives her.” Manygoats also wanted her life “to stand for something,” which lead her to help establish the Navajo Women’s Energy Project. With over 18,000 Navajo homes living off the grid, the group’s goal is to provide safe alternative energy sources in order to end the use of kerosene. Working for Eagle Energy, a branch of Africa-based nonprofit Elephant Energy, Manygoats visits homes to install free rooftop solar panels, which doesn’t always come easy.

“At first, some elders aren’t too sure about this. Manygoats often finds that the elders’ respect for the sun comes with a keen awareness of its awesome destructive power. So she sits down with them, and they have a serious conversation about their shared faith. Once everyone agrees about how this all fits in with traditional beliefs, she and her team can get to work.”

Learn more about Adrian Manygoats and Eagle Energy on Facebook, UpWorthy and YouTube.

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.