Slide background
Slide background

Reminder: Redefining Home Design Challenge Starts Today


The Home Matters initiative is opening registration today, December 2nd for its Re-defining Home: A Design Challenge on affordable housing. Multidisciplinary teams are invited to submit designs that go beyond the idea of shelter and “animate the connections between housing and other important social factors of community life.” Features and services in each proposal should speak to the following values: health, education, individual success, public safety, and a strong economy, ensuring that “every American lives in a safe, nurturing environment with access to education, healthcare, public spaces and community services.” A total of $18,000 will be awarded to the three final projects. Submissions are due May 1st, 2015.

The challenge is an initiative between eleven design organizations–AIA Austin, AIA Chicago, AIA Los Angeles, AIA New Orleans, American Architecture Foundation, Autodesk Foundation, Enterprise Community Partners, Public Architecture, SPUR, and Urban Land Institute.

Click here to learn more and register for the challenge, online at HomeMattersAmerica.com.

Watch Liz Ogbu’s TED Talk on Architecture for Social Impact

In a thought-provoking TED Talk for TEDxMidAtlantic, designer and social innovator Liz Ogbu shares a powerful story from her experiences as an IDEO fellow working on clean cook stoves in Tanzania. Trained in the hard skills of architecture, Ogbu explains how she learned to embrace the soft skills of humanity alongside her expertise as an architect, to design opportunities for impact rather than buildings.

Expert citizen is this great term I came across a couple years ago in a book called Spatial Agency and it is a perfectly encapsulated part of what I do. As the expert citizen, I create space at the table for citizens to be able to come and share that knowledge they have, because oftentimes they have not been empowered to see the knowledge they carry is expertise. How we can leverage both the role of expert citizen and citizen expert in our approach to architecture?

Click here to watch Liz Ogdu on “Why I’m an Architect that Designs for Social Impact, Not Buildings,” online at TED.com.

24 Impact Design Organizations to Support on #GivingTuesday


Founded in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, #GivingTuesday is an annual day when people around the world come together to give back. As the movement continues to grow in the US, countries around the world are leading their own #GivingTuesday movements to encourage giving in their communities. With over 10,000 organizations engaged worldwide, the Impact Design Hub is celebrating #GivingTuesday by encouraging you to support impact design nonprofits from around the globe. To help give you some ideas, we compiled this list of X global organizations from our forthcoming database launching in early 2015.


Gearbox is Kenya’s first open makerspace for rapid prototyping.

KickStart International designs irrigation tools that help African farmers start profitable businesses and lift themselves out of poverty.

Rebuild South Sudan is an initiative to help the communities of Southern Sudan help themselves.

Sanergy makes hygienic sanitation affordable and accessible throughout Africa’s informal settlements.


billionBRICKS is an international and multi-disciplinary nonprofit organization which aims to improve the quality of life of the homeless through the power of design and good architecture.

INCLUDED works with migrant communities and slums in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Kathmandu, and Dhaka.

Pakistan Straw Bale and Appropriate Building offers creative green building solutions using local labor and renewable materials to provide affordable permanent housing especially suited for seismic and severe temperature regions of developing countries.

Proximity Designs creates and markets affordable products and services that enrich the lives of rural families across Myanmar.


AzuKo is an architectural nonprofit with the aim to improve lives in areas with limited assets through community driven, research based design initiatives that are sensitive to local contexts.

Building Trust aims to impact the lives of a million people by 2020 through access to better buildings.

Orkidstudio is a humanitarian design organisation whose focus is to benefit children and communities through innovative design and construction.

Schulbausteine fur Gando promotes development projects in the fields of education, health and agriculture in Gando, Burkina Faso.


Archive Global informs global practices concerning health reforms and housing strategies in our rapidly urbanizing world.

Build Change designs disaster-resistant houses and schools in emerging nations and trains builders, homeowners, engineers and government officials to build them.

Catapult Design is a nonprofit design firm that researches, designs, and develops human-centered products and services to improve the lives of those who need it most.

Design that Matters is a nonprofit design company that works with social enterprises and volunteers to design new products and services for the poor in developing countries.


Architects Without Frontiers aims to build projects with communities in need, focusing on Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.

Gap Filler is a creative urban regeneration initiative that temporarily activates vacant sites within Christchurch with cool and creative projects, to make for a more interesting and vibrant city.

Playground Ideas improves the education and wellbeing of children in under-resourced communities through training and resourcing communities to build beautiful, safe playgrounds.

Walu International is dedicated to permanently improving the hygiene and sanitary conditions in Papua New Guinea’s coastal communities.


Corazones para Peru is a non-profit association with the goal of sustainably improving living conditions for the indigenous population, especially children, of the Peruvian Andes.

Informal Urban Communities Initiative is a design activism, research and education program based in Lomas de Zapallal, an informal urban settlement in northern Lima, Peru (donation through Architects Without Borders Seattle)

Favela Painting aims to provide an opportunity for people to transform their own neighborhood from a place seen as negative into a place that is able to communicate its creativity, beauty and innovation to the outside world through art.

TECHO is a youth led non-profit organization working to eradicate poverty through community development, awareness building and political advocacy in Latin America & the Caribbean.

Click here to learn more about #GivingTuesday, online at GivingTuesday.org.

Reminder: Support IDEO.org for new HCD Guide by 12/7

Less than one week remains to support IDEO.org‘s Kickstarter campaign for its new book: The Field Guide to Human-Centered Design. Available in two formats, the guide is the evolution of its popular HCD Toolkit and contains both updated and new design methods, illustrations, case studies, and worksheets to help anyone solve problems like designers in the field. Supporters have jumped at the chance to secure an early copy of the pocket guide, helping IDEO.org double its initial pledged goal of $30,000. Donate by December 7th, 2014 to secure your own copy, which is set to ship in February 2015.

Design Kit is our online platform which currently has 58,000 members; our online Course for Human-Centered Design has seen 40,000 people register from 148 countries over the past two years; and the HCD Toolkit has been downloaded over 141,000 times. But there are places that the Internet just doesn’t go. And there are times out in the field, when your best friend is a good book. The Field Guide is just that friend, an ally in design and a key to help design a world without poverty.

Click here to support IDEO.org’s campaign to create The Field Guide to Human-Centered Design, online at Kickstarter.com.

Wishing You a Gratitude-Filled Thanksgiving


Today in America (and places around the globe), family, friends, and loads of food are gathering together for Thanksgiving. We will be off today and tomorrow to enjoy time with loved ones and indulge in Grandmother’s home cooking. Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, we hope you take the time to reflect on what you’re most grateful for and send a few thank you’s to those most important to you.

See you back here on Monday, December 1st where we’ll be joined by guest blogger Maren Maier of Creative States while we’re at Autodesk University.

New MoMa Exhibition on ‘Uneven Growth’


A new exhibition on formal and informal urban development in six global metropolises has just opened at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art. Following the same model as previous exhibitions Rising Currents and Foreclosed, six interdisciplinary teams of researchers and practitioners were invited to examine new architectural possibilities in Hong Kong, Istanbul, Lagos, Mumbai, New York, and Rio de Janeiro. The Uneven Growth exhibition features ‘tactical urbanism’ proposals that each team developed in a series of workshops over a period of 14 months. Along with the museum exhibition, the Uneven Growth website invites practitioners from around the world to submit their own ‘tactical urbanism’ ideas.

Uneven Growth seeks to challenge current assumptions about the relationships between formal and informal, bottom-up and top-down urban development, and to address potential changes in the roles architects and urban designers might assume vis-à-vis the increasing inequality of current urban development. The resulting proposals… will consider how emergent forms of tactical urbanism can respond to alterations in the nature of public space, housing, mobility, spatial justice, environmental conditions, and other major issues in near-future urban contexts.

Click here to learn more about Uneven Growth exhibition, online at Uneven-Growth.MoMa.org.

Livability Solutions Offering Free Workshops


Project for Public Spaces and nine partner organizations with Livability Solutions are offering free one- and two-day technical workshops for up to ten communities in the US. As part of a grant from the EPA Office of Sustainable CommunitiesBuilding Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program, the technical assistance workshops are designed for local and tribal governments to learn new tools or workshop approaches, such as walkability audits, green infrastructure valuation guides, shared use agreements, and community image surveys. Applications to take part are due January 9, 2015.

We focus on helping communities to reach a tipping point or to overcome a significant hurdle in achieving a particular livability or sustainability goal. If you are a community with a strong interest in and commitment to livability, smart growth, and sustainability principles, but face a significant challenge or barrier to moving forward with those goals, please apply for technical assistance. This year, we are also placing a stronger emphasis in prioritizing neighborhoods with social, economic, and environmental disadvantages, in order to help those communities most in need of assistance.

Click here to learn more and apply to receive Livability Solutions technical assistance, online at PPS.org/Livability-Solutions.

Nominations Open for 2015 National Design Awards


Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum is now accepting nominations to the illustrious 2015 National Design Awards. Conceived in 2000 by the White House Millenium Council, the annual awards program celebrates design as a “vital humanistic tool in shaping the world” through ten jury-selected categories. The deadline for nominations is December 8, 2014. In conjunction with the awards, National Design Week will take place Autumn 2015 to offer a suite of public educational programs.

The National Design Awards were conceived by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum to honor lasting achievement in American design. The Awards are bestowed in recognition of excellence, innovation, and enhancement of the quality of life. As part of National Design Week, the public is invited to vote for the People’s Design Award. The winning design is announced live at the National Design Awards Gala in New York.

Click here to learn more and submit nominations to the National Design Awards, online at CooperHewitt.org.

Design+Culture Lab Call for Interviews


Launched by alumni and current graduate students at Parsons New School for Design, the Design+Culture Lab is a new research-based social enterprise dedicated to addressing complex spatial issues associated with cultural, racial, and ethnic inequality. Based in Portland, Oregon and New York, New York, D+C Lab is an African American women-owned firm led by Joy Alise and Renae Reynolds. D+C Lab has an open call for interviews for a forthcoming research publication, The People of Color Survival Guide to Public Space, scheduled for release in 2015.

Design+Culture Lab ask people of color to submit stories, encounters, and reflections that you have had as a person of color moving within the city. What happened, how did you feel, what can you recall about the space? With the consent of the author all stories will be collected and shared in a periodical zine. D+C Lab encourages all people of color to participate making this a truly intersectional body of work only as strong and rich as the variance of our identities and experiences.

Click here to learn more about Design+Culture Lab on DesignCultureLab.org or click here to learn more and submit your stories to The POC Survival Guide.

Code for America Announces 2015 Fellows


Over the last four years, 103 people from across America have taken leave from jobs at large and small tech companies, their own businesses, and government agencies to use their skills for good during a year of public service with Code for America. In 2015, twenty four impressive Fellows will be joining CfA’s fifth cohort to partner with 8 cities: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Indianapolis, Indiana; Miami-Dade County, Florida; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Somerville, Massachusetts; Vallejo, California; West Sacramento, California; and Richmond, Virginia.

Code for America believes government can work for the people, by the people in the 21st century. We build open source technology and organize a network of people dedicated to making government services simple, effective, and easy to use.

Click here to learn about all twenty four 2015 Fellows, online at CodeForAmerica.org.