Buckminster Fuller Challenge Finalists Announced


An impressive and inspiring list of finalists for the 2014 Buckminster Fuller Challenge have been announced. From a pool of applicants representing 93 countries, the seven finalists range from a community managed forest to a floating health clinic to a locally owned and managed housing development. With a $100,000 purse and an accolade from “Socially-Responsible Design’s Highest Award” on the line, the jury has their work cut out to determine the winning “whole systems design” project. BFI’s Executive Director and Co-founder of The Fuller Challenge Elizabeth Thompson commented:

“We are very proud to track the impact our prize program is having on the international discussion about how to address the big challenges we face. References to holistic, systemic and integrated approaches are everywhere, but it remains difficult to really understand this approach unless you can see it applied in a specific context. This is complex, complicated, long-term work that does not lend itself well to a simple sound bite or elevator pitch. The Fuller Challenge continues to be unique as a showcase for applied whole systems design and the remarkable people at the leading edge of this approach.”

Click here to learn more about the 7 BFI Challenge Finalists, online at BFI.org.

Profile: Billion Bricks Aims to House the Homeless

“As a successful architect, Mr Prasoon Kumar has designed more than 10,000 homes around the world [in] 10 years, from India and Hong Kong to the Philippines and the United States,” begins an article on the Billion Bricks Foundation. The Singapore-based nonprofit was born out of the 37-year-old architect’s frustration with designing homes for people who already had them while the disparity in housing for people living in slums and on the streets remained unchanged. “Mumbai has about 10 million people living in slums. If we were to rehabilitate them in conventional housing, the amount of resources it requires not only to build, but to maintain the homes, and to service them with electricity and water, is humongous,” said Kumar. Billion Bricks recently won $5,000 in seed funding during a social entrepreneur boot camp and the team is establishing partnerships with NGOs to build and scale projects.

billionBRICKS aims to end the global problem of homelessness by housing those on the streets, and, where possible, providing them tools such as education, job training and job opportunities.

Click here to read “More than bricks for the homeless” on StraitTimes.com, or click here to learn more about the new nonprofit on BillionBricks.org.

TAMassociati Receives 2014 Zumtobel Group Award


The Zumtobel Group has announced the winners for the 2014 Awards for projects that have significantly contributed to “greater humanity and sustainability in the built environment.” Chilean firm Elemental received the Urban Developments & Initiatives award for the PRES Constitución reconstruction master plan for Constitución, Chile, a city devastated by an earthquake and tsunami in 2010. ARUP Germany took home the Applied Innovations award for SolarLeaf, a building-integrated system that absorbs CO2 emissions and produces biomass and heat. The winning project in the Building category was bestowed upon Italian architecture firm Studio TAMassociati for the Paediatric Centre in Port Sudan, Sudan. MVRDV’s Winy Maas, chairman of the esteemed jury–Kazuyo Sejima of SANAA, Kunlé Adeyemi of NLÉ Works, Yung Ho Chang of MIT Architecture, Brian Cody of Graz University of Technology, and Ulrich Schumacher of the Zumtobel Group–commented on the ground-breaking projects submitted and selected for the award:

The voting to find the number one project was very close in all three categories, because in each case we were able to choose from among a large number of heterogeneous projects of high quality. One key criterion for the jury this year was the innovation factor, both in a technical sense and with a view to planning and participation processes as well as ecological and social challenges.

Click here to read more about the 2014 Zumtobel Group Awards, online at Zumtobel-Group-Award.com.

“In America’s Poorest City, a Housing Breakthrough”


The Atlantic’s City Lab recently featured the revitalization work in Brownsville, Texas, being led by bcWorkshop and the Community Development Corporation of Brownsville (CDBC). From multi-unit ‘colonias’ to disaster relief housing, the architect-developer collaboration is changing the design and delivery of housing to the city’s poorest residents at a pace that “New York developers might envy,” reports Amanda Kolson Hurley. Working within CDCB’s aim to build 150 houses each year, bcWORKSHOP has been able to prove the value of design to the rapid building process to the developer, which in turn has affected the residents, neighborhood, and local government’s perception of design. CDCB Executive Director Nick Mitchell-Bennett explains:

High-quality designs get local officials excited. When they’re excited, they’ll try to do whatever it takes to make sure the buildings end up looking that way—like supporting the intensive community engagement that both CDCB and bcWorkshop insist on.

Click here to read “In America’s Poorest City, a Housing Breakthrough,” online at CityLab.com.

Learn HCD Online with IDEO.org and +Acumen


Together with the announcement of the HCD Connect relaunch as Design Kit, IDEO.org is hosting the third online human-centered design course this month. Beginning October 14th, the free, seven-week course offers an introductory course to anyone interested in the popular IDEO design methodology. Over a period of 50 days, teams of 2-6 will learn not only the methodology but also gain hands-on experience working on real world challenges. Registration closes on October 13th.

You will learn the human-centered design process by applying it to one of three pre-crafted real world design challenges (provided in the course). Each week you will explore the main human-centered design concepts through readings, case studies, and short videos. Then you’ll be expected to meet in-person with your design team to get your hands dirty practicing the relevant human-centered design methods.

Click here to learn more and sign up for ‘Design Kit: The Course for Human-Centered Design,’ online at PlusAcumen.org.

New Video on Winnipeg’s Central Park Neighborhood Revitalization

In-Context Videos–a video documentary series on contemporary Canadian architecture–recently released a fascinating short video on Winnipeg’s multicultural Central Park neighborhood. In association with the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, co-producers and directors Raja Moussaoui and Andrea Lacalamita focus on the role of public engagement for two contemporary projects: Centre Village, an affordable housing development designed by 5468796 architecture; and Central Park Revitalization designed by Scatliff + Miller + Murray. Featuring perspectives from both residents and the designers, Moussaoui and Lacalamita provide a fresh look at how these projects address a place representing a myriad cultures and customs.

Click here to watch ‘Centre Village & Central Park’ on Vimeo.com, or click here to learn more about In-Context Video series on InContextVideos.com.

Call for Entries to 2015 ArtPlace Grants Program


Since 2011, ArtPlace’s National Grants Program has contributed $56.8 million to 189 projects in 122 communities across 42 states and the District of Columbia. Entering the fifth cycle of funding, ArtPlace has refined their criteria, honed their mission, and clarified priorities to better support creative placemaking. With $10 million dedicated to support 40 projects in 2015, ArtPlace has reserved 50% of funding for creative placemaking projects in the following communities:

  • Communities of all sizes in Alaska, California, and Minnesota
  • Rural communities throughout Arizona, Iowa, the Upper Peninsula in Michigan, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin
  • The cities of Akron, OH; Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville, MA; Charlotte, NC; Detroit, MI; Macon, GA; Miami, FL; Greater Philadelphia, PA; San Jose, CA; and St. Paul, MN
  • Performing arts organizations and practitioners of folk, traditional, and Native American arts

ArtPlace is also particularly interested in projects from states in which it has not yet granted, including Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Wyoming. Letters of Inquiry from individuals and teams are being accepted now through November 3rd.

Click here to learn more and apply for the 2015 ArtPlace National Grants Program, online at ArtPlaceAmerica.org./LOI.

Eone’s Bradley Watch Reaches $1M in Sales

Over a year ago, we shared Eone’s Kickstarter campaign for “The Bradley,” a timepiece inspired by Special Olympics Gold Medalist Bradley Snyder, a Navy Seal vet who was blinded by an IED explosion in Afghanistan in 2011. After a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign–one of the all-time most-funded design campaigns ever–Eone founder Hyungsoo Kim and his team recently celebrated a major milestone: $1 million in sales in a little over a year since launching the product.  “By creating a timepiece that’s fashionable and functionable, we’re supporting something we truly believe in: universal design,” said Kim. Along with booming business, Eone was nominated for the London Design Museum’s 2014 Design of the Year Award and celebrities Stevie Wonder, Auggie Anderson, and Christine Ha have helped raise awareness and support for the product as well.

The Bradley is a watch you can touch to tell time, which means everyone can use it, including people who are vision-impaired. Combining beautiful form and exceptional function, the tactile timepiece is a striking example of the power of universal design.

Click here to learn more about eone and The Bradley, online at Eone-Time.com.

Structures for Inclusion 15 Announced


Mark your calendars for the fifteenth annual Structures for Inclusion Conference, taking place on April 11th and 12th, 2015, at host organization Lawrence Technological University in Detroit, Michigan. Convening public interest design practitioners, partners, and enthusiasts to share the best ideas and practices, the 2015 theme of “Resilience of Mind, Body and Spirit” responds to Detroit’s pivotal move into a “new kind of post-industrial world order.” More information on the event will be released in the months ahead.

Click here to learn more about SFI 15, online at DesignCorps.org.

$5M Knight Cities Challenge Call for Entries

The Knight Foundation is now accepting submissions to the Knight Cities Challenge, a $5 million grant program to help spur civic innovation at city, neighborhood, and block levels. From now until November 14th, individuals or teams are encouraged to submit short project proposals that focus on one or all three drivers: attracting talented people, expanding economic opportunity and creating a culture of civic engagement. Projects must take place in or benefit one or more of the 26 Knight communities–all locations where the Knight brothers once owned newspapers. The 2014 contest closes at 5pm ET on Friday November 14, 2014.

Imagine what could happen if we could gather up ideas from America’s most ambitious civic innovators – activists, designers, artists, planning professionals, hackers, architects, city officials, educators, nonprofits, entrepreneurs, block captains, social workers, neighbors  – and put them to work in cities across the nation over the next 18 months. And then imagine that we introduce these civic innovators to one another to share and spread their ideas. We believe we may be at the beginning of a new movement to unleash big ideas from everywhere for making our cities successful. We invite you to be part of that movement by submitting your idea to the Knight Cities Challenge.

Click here to learn more and submit your idea to the Knight Cities Challenge, online at KnightCities.org.