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“Architecture for the people by the people”

ruralstudioyancy writer and comedian Isa Hopkins recently wrote about the effect–and hopeful impact–of design/build studios that are gaining ground in university architecture programs. “Architecture for the people by the people” calls attention to the increasing amount of projects based in local communities as opposed to traveling overseas. University of Washington professor Steve Badanes and Rural Studio director Andrew Freear contribute thoughts on how these programs have potential to influence the field of architecture at large, along with Public Architecture’s efforts to incorporate this work into practice.

Questions of social responsibility in architecture have a long history of dialog and discussion, however — and if professors like Steve Badanes have anything to say about it, Millennial-generation architects just might be the ones to push these ideas out into the world. Students who go through design/build programs enter their careers not just hungry to make a difference, but empowered by their experience of already having done so.

Click here to read “Architecture for the people by the people,” online at

12 Urban Urge Award Winners Announced


The inaugural Urban Urge Awards have announced 12 winning teams that will receive grant funds to realize physical and programmatic urban projects in seven countries. In honor of architect and community advocate Mojdeh (Moji) Baratloo, the esteemed jury–Bjarke Ingels of BIG, Casey Jones of jones|kroloffMargaret Newman of the Municipal Arts SocietyDavid van der Leer of the Van Alen Institute, and Mabel O. Wilson from Columbia University GSAPP–selected the most compelling and novel ideas from professionals, graduates, and students on transforming their urban environments. From Bronx, New York, to Kisumu, Kenya, the twelve selected winning ideas introduce a range of interventions to improve social and environmental conditions in neighborhoods across the world. More

Feature: The Future of Design is Economics

Richardson Housing

Over the past two years I have had the opportunity to help curate content for, and through the process I’ve recognized a common thread in the best projects and firms profiled: an attention to economics. Some of the most innovative and successful design projects I’ve seen over the past two years are firmly rooted in economic development. While firms engaging in public interest design still make up only a tiny fraction of the market, they are helping to set a new course for the entire industry—a course rooted in a much deeper understanding of economic mechanisms and potential to incorporate them into design projects. These projects tend to fall into one of three broad categories in terms of their economic impacts; they save money, make money or avoid money. More

Entries to The Lighthouse Design Award Due Friday


The second bi-annual Design Impact Award–hosted by The Lighthouse, Scotland’s Center for Design and Architecture–is accepting project submissions through this Friday, September 5th. Launched in 2012, the award aims to recognize the impacts that completed projects have had on the way we live and work. With support from Creative Scotland and Glasgow City Council, award winners will receive a prize of £5,000 along with a feature place in a public exhibition with shortlisted entries. Applications can be found on their website.

The Lighthouse is a visitor centre, exhibition space and events venue situated in the heart of Glasgow, just off the Style Mile. The Lighthouse acts as a beacon for the creative industries in Scotland and promotes design and architecture through a vibrant programme of exhibitions and events.

Click here to learn more and apply for The Lighthouse Design Impact Award by Friday, September 5th, online at

Watch "The Architecture of Violence" This Week

With recent news of Israel planning to take over a section of Palestinian land in the Occupied West Bank, this week’s Rebel Architecture episode on “The Architecture of Violence” with Eyal Weizman could not be more appropriate. Airing today at 11:30pm BST (6:30pm ET / 3:30pm PT) on Al Jazeera English, architect and professor Eyal Weizman explains the role architecture has played in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the evolution of urban warfare. This eye-opening–and at times unsettling–episode directed by Ana Naomi de Sousa spotlights responsibility, ethics, and morality within the built environment professions. More

El Guadual Center Built Using Participatory Design


The textured concrete and bamboo walls and pencil-point structure of the El Guadual Children Center recently caught our attention on ArchDaily. Along with the captivating playful design of the building complex, architects Daniel Joseph Feldman Mowerman and Iván Dario Quiñones Sanchez employed a participatory design process to achieve a space that is not only aesthetically delightful but also meets the needs of the various people who will be using it for years to come. The Angry Architect shared the process in more depth on Architizer’s blog, which is well worth a read.

Composed of 10 classrooms, dining hall, indoor and outdoor recreation, semi-private arts spaces, first aid room, administration, vegetable garden, water feature, public outdoor theater, and a civic plaza, El Guadual Early Youth Development Center in Villa Rica, Cauca provides food, education, and recreation services to 300 kids 0-5 years old, 100 pregnant mothers, and 200 newborns as part of the national integral early youth attention strategy “de Cero a Siempre”.

Click here to read more about El Guadual Children Center, online at

"Nziza Cyane: Landscapes that Heal" by MASS

MASS Design Group has just released a new video featuring senior director Sierra Bainbridge and master gardener Jean Baptiste, who have worked together on all projects in Rwanda since Butaro Hospital. As Bapitste explains in “Nziza Cyane: Landscapes that Heal,” despite language barriers, they have been able to collaborate through designing and tending to the gardens together. “The secret of work is mutual respect,” Baptiste poignantly states. And MASS’s approach is proving that this works.

Click here to watch “Nziza Cyane: Landscapes that Heal,” online at

Feature: How will Public Interest Design look in 2024? 18 Practitioners Weigh In


Rewind to 2004 and think about what you were doing on August 27th. On this day ten years ago, a cold air conditioned breeze was blowing through my hair and onto my sticky skin as I took a break from moving boxes and bags into my apartment in New Orleans. Entering my fourth year of architecture school at Tulane University, I was looking forward to learning a new computer program called Revit. Public interest design–and social impact, community-led, humanitarian, and the lot–hadn’t even entered my evolving architecture vocabulary. Since that hot, humid August day in New Orleans, the field of passionate designers has blossomed beyond anything I could have imagined. Now, students entering their fourth year at Tulane have most likely heard of public interest design, if not participated in a studio or class specifically focused on the subject.

With the immense strides, enthusiasm, and involvement in this field of work since 2004, we were curious to hear from practitioners–new and established, young and, ahem, seasoned–on what the next 10 years has in store. We posed the following question to a few of our favorite designers:

How do you think the field of public interest/ impact design will look in 10 years?

Amongst the eighteen responses below, we see a resounding vision for more established methods, metrics, tools, and a mainstream position within the wider design and architecture industries. With these designers and many more at the helm of this movement, the promise for what we can achieve by 2024 is very bright. More

"What Kind of Prison Might the Inmates Design?"


Los Angeles Times reporter Lee Romeny recently covered a 4-day workshop coordinated by restorative justice champion and designer Deanna VanBuren in the article “What Kind of Prison Might the Inmates Design?” VanBuren, principal of FOURM Design Studio, and fellow instructor Barb Toews, an academic dedicated to restorative justice, facilitated a workshop on designing a restorative justice center with 18 inmates at San Francisco’s County Jail No. 5.

As Romeny reports, the ideas and designs from men who are awaiting trial on violent crimes are not too far off from high-end clients with wishes for lofty residences and serene office spaces featuring plenty of daylight, natural ventilation, and even calming water features. Through these workshops, VanBuren’s goal is “to empower those inside the institutions and prod architects to actually talk to the people they are designing for… That’s how an architect would practice in any other setting.”

Click here to read “What Kind of Prison Might the Inmates Design?”, online at

Watch Yasmeen Lari on Rebel Architecture Series

Al Jazeera’s ‘Rebel Architecture’ series kicked off last week with the very well-received “Guerilla Architect” about self-build Spanish architect Santiago Cirugeda. Kicking off today at 11:30pm BST (6:30pm ET / 3:30pm PT) is “A Traditional Future” featuring the work of Pakistan’s first female architect Yasmeen Lari. Previously focused on designing modern buildings for high-profile corporate clients, Lari shifted her practice to disaster relief and humanitarian aid in 2010 and hasn’t looked back since. For designers and architects interested in this area of work, Lari offers a unique approach to rebuilding using vernacular design and construction with locals over imported, mass-produced structures. More