mariana interview_banner

Mapping Impact Panel Discussion

Mapping Impact

We are excited to announce the “Mapping Impact: Exploring How to Measure Social Design” panel discussion on March 12th from 6:30-8:00pm at the School of Visual Arts. Community based design work has been rising in a variety of fields, but there are few resources available to assess the impact these projects are actually having on individuals and communities. Four experts will be discussing impact measurement from the context of their various backgrounds; ranging from, public health, impact investing and poverty reduction, to city government, design, and social science. The panelists include:

Tickets are limited! If tickets are unavailable it is still encouraged to sign up and receive a video link of the event.  Read more about the panel discussion here and RSVP here.

AFH Chapters Rally to Continue Humanitarian Design Work with New, Bold Plans


By now the news has sunk in that Architecture for Humanity’s headquarters has closed shop. However, despite this era’s end, there are still hundreds of volunteers, community leaders and chapter directors who have vowed to continue their work. For the past month we have been quietly and collectively organizing and making contact with many other organizations in the public interest design world. The energy for and support of the chapter network has been positively overwhelming.

While the closing of our headquarters disappoints us, we see this as an opportunity to begin charting the future for our volunteers as well as the movement of humanitarian design. More

SFI 15 Include Yourself Call for Proposals


The fifteenth Structures for Inclusion (SFI) Conference committee is now accepting abstracts for the two-day conference on April 11th and 12th, 2015. The theme for this year’s conference is “Resilience of Mind, Body and Spirit,” and will be appropriately held in Detroit, Michigan. Proposals must address the following criteria:

  • To advance public interest design practices that are socially responsive, inclusive, and ethical
  • To address social, economic and environmental justice and equality
  • To generate ideas that will promote “resilience of community, mind, body and spirit.”

Proposals will be considered for either PechaKucha-style Presentations (20 slides) or Break-out Sessions (60 minutes).  Selected applications are given the opportunity to communicate their ideas to seminal figures in public interest design from around the globe. Winners will also receive free registration for themselves and five others.

The deadline to apply is February 21st 2015. Read the guidelines for applying here.

The State of Play

State Of Play

In order to advance play spaces nationwide, the San Francisco Parks Alliance recently released their biannual report entitled State of Play, investigating trends and improvements in playground design with a focus on San Francisco. This report is part of a larger program by The Playground Initiative- a partnership between the San Francisco Parks Alliance and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (RPD).

“The Initiative works towards ensuring that all children in San Francisco have access to a safe and engaging play space in their own neighborhood. By building strong partnerships with the community, elected officials and RPD, the Playground Initiative ensures that playgrounds are valued, protected, and improved citywide.”

The Parks Alliance, in partnership with the Recreation and Parks Department, is holding a Playground Design Forum on February 28th in San Francisco. To RSVP visit this link.

To read the full State of Play report, click here.

Image courtesy of San Francisco Parks Alliance

Fuller Challenge Now Accepting Applications

Now in it’s seventh year, the Fuller Challenge awards one $100,000 prize to develop and implement a comprehensive anticipatory design solution. Known as “Socially-Responsible Design’s Highest Award,” the Fuller Challenge attracts scientists, students, designers, architects, activists, entrepreneurs, artists and planners globally to submit progressive solutions to world’s most imminent obstacles.

“Since our first prize was awarded in 2008 we have celebrated winners whose solutions range from ecological restoration in the coal country of Appalachia, the re-design of urban mobility, reversing desertification in Africa, repairing coastal marine environments, rethinking building performance, innovation in biomaterial packaging, and urban storm surge mitigation integrating ecological engineering and community resilience strategies” said Elizabeth Thompson, Executive Director of BFI.

The deadline for submission is March 31st, 2015 at 5pm EST. Click here to apply.

Angdong Hospital Project

Rural Urban Framework

In rural China, access to quality healthcare can be a real challenge. In response to this a Hong Kong charity, Institute for Integrated Rural Development, commissioned Rural Urban Framework (RUF) to design China’s first charitable hospital. RUF was faced with designing a cost effective structure that facilitated a new way of approaching rural healthcare in China. From the architects:

“The program of a hospital is re-configured from its conventional form. This includes providing basic necessities absent in current establishments, some as simple as waiting rooms.”

See the full project on ArchDaily here.

Image courtesy of Rural Urban Framework (RUF)

The Controversy of Architecture and Torture

Christoph Gielen

With the release of the Senate’s report revealing the acts of torture by the CIA at Guantanamo Bay and beyond, the question that begs to be asked is “Who exactly is designing these chambers for torture?” The plain and simple answer is of course, architects. The same month the Senate released the aforementioned report, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) officially declined to prohibit the design of torture chambers in U.S. prisons and abroad. Raphael Sperry, president of Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, elucidates on the latter decision in his article, “Architects and torture: What color is your waterboard?”

“While architects cannot be held responsible for unintended uses of the spaces they design, the intention of most of these spaces is clear from the get-go. The use of remote-controlled doors, individualized cellular “recreation yards” and solid cell fronts with special pass-through slots are all architectural features that enable and deepen isolation, leading inexorably to psychological pain.”

Sperry offers an in-depth view on the ethics of design for torture and calls into question the accountability of architects and citizens alike.

Read the full article here.

Image courtesy of Christoph Gielen

The Paul Polak Scholarship


Over the past 30 years Dr. Polak has dedicated his life to working with thousands of farmers across the globe, aiding them in designing low-cost, income-generating products. His work has already helped 22 million people out of poverty. The Paul Polak scholarship from MFA Design for Social Innovation (DSI) grants a $10,000 scholarship to one student in the class of 2017 that demonstrates the fortitude and ingenuity that Paul delivers in his work. A DSI representative sums up the work of Paul below:

“Paul has been a friend, adviser and inspiration to our program, and to the millions of people around the world whose lives he has changed through his work to end poverty.”

Applications are currently open and can be found here.

The Power of Poo


In Kenya’s slums, a new initiative has begun to turn human waste into clean energy. The organizations, Umande Trust and Practical Action have banded together to develop a strategy to turn a looming problem into a beneficial asset. Their solution is constructing bio-centres that digest human feces and collect the methane as the defecation decomposes. This extracted methane is then sold back to slum dwellers as biogas to power cooking and bathing.

“Every individual creates 300g of human waste each day, and 60% of Nairobi’s four million inhabitants live in its informal settlements – that’s 2.4 million people,” says Omotto. “What we have in Nairobi is 720,000 kg of shit. We want to turn it into biogas so that we can tackle the energy crisis.”

This is just the beginning, Practical Action is duplicating this project in various countries and exploring working with “bioslurry” as fertilizer. Read about the impact the power of poo is making in the full article here.
Photo: © UNU-ISP ESDA Project

Winners of the 2015 Interaction Awards Announced


This year’s winners for the fourth annual Interaction Awards are officially out. Each year awards are given to acknowledge exceptional examples of Interaction Design across domains, channels, environments and cultures. Announced at the Interaction Awards Celebration and Interaction15 closing party, some winning designs included: Expressive Wearables by Sangli Li from Art Center College of Design and Redesigning Breast Cancer Diagnostics by Designit from Norway.

“Our aim for the annual Interaction Design Awards is to surface and share the thought leadership and innovation happening around the globe in our practice area. The 2015 Interaction Award recipients showcase how our practice is dedicated to the improvement of human lives,” said IxDA President Nick Gould.

See the full list of winners and finalists here.