Is sustainability about working within scarcity or finding natural abundance? Anna Heringer is an award-winning leader in architecture who utilizes the skills of the communities she works in as well as low-tech, sustainable materials like mud and bamboo.
Are you ready to co-opt mass consumerism? Dr. Antonio Scarponi is an architect, designer, educator, and the founder of Conceptual Devices, a Zurich-based office with the mission to develop design strategies with social, economic, and poetic impact.
What is the role of architects in communities in need? Cameron Sinclair and Kate Stohr, recipients of the first Curry Stone Design Prize Vision Award, have been committed to social impact design since co-founding Architecture for Humanity in 1999.
Can a new urban future grow out of a vacant lot? Atelier d’Architecture Autogérée is a collective of architects that transforms urban spaces. It is recognized as an engine for engaging citizens in shaping their own cities through experimentation and renewal.
Can design increase civic participation? The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) collaborates with designers, educators, advocates, students, and communities to make educational tools that demystify complex policy and planning issues.
Can improving the built environment in impoverished neighborhoods transform a city? Fajardo and Echeverri implemented a bold program in Medellín. By training architects to build parks and public buildings in impoverished neighborhoods, Medellin was transformed from “world’s deadliest city” into a vibrant, livable place.
Can public housing be designed to encourage resident ownership? ELEMENTAL engages in projects ranging from housing to public space to objects to buildings, covering a wide spectrum of interests. One of the firm´s hallmarks is participatory design, in which the architects work closely with the client and users.
Can SMS technology be harnessed as a powerful information dissemination tool? Frontline SMS is software that acts as an information dissemination service for text messages. It uses cell service, not internet access, to create communication networks and exchange information.
How can a community contribute to a post-disaster rebuilding process? Hsieh Ying-Chun is a Taiwanese architect who works throughout Asia training villagers to build locally-appropriate dwellings in response to earthquake devastation.
How can artisans build a resilient community? Hunnarshala works with artisans to combine traditional building techniques with innovation. They are also engaged in training and empowering artisan entrepreneurs, bringing them into the mainstream of construction.
Can art mend neighborhoods? Jeanne van Heeswijk is an artist who facilitates the creation of dynamic and diversified public spaces. Her long-scale community projects question art’s autonomy by combining performative actions, discussions, and other forms of organizing and pedagogy to assist communities to take control of their futures.
Can a plastic bottle bring light where electricity is scarce? Philippines based Liter of light is a global, open-source, grassroots movement committed to providing affordable, sustainable light to people with limited or no access to electricity.
Can a community be built with sand? Luyanda Mpahlwa is part of a vanguard of designers reshaping and re-envisioning South Africa’s post-apartheid architectural landscape.
Can participatory design inspire sustainable prosperity? Marjetica Potrč is an artist and architect who works on community-based projects characterized by participatory design and a concern for sustainability.
Why invest in architecture in resource-limited settings? Model of Architecture Serving Society (MASS Design) is a Boston-based architectural practice focusing on advocacy, the education of the next generation of architects, and the impacts of architecture on human lives.
Can bicycles power essential tasks and support microbusinesses? In rural Guatemala, energy sources are scarce. Maya Pedal repurposes donated bicycles into pedal-powered machines that can blend food, grind corn and lift water from wells, without requiring electricity.
Can design help raise the income of small hold farmers in Myanmar? Proximity Designs is a not-for-profit social enterprise working to reduce poverty for rural families in Myanmar.
Can restoration work in Palestine reinforce cultural identity? Founded in 1991 by Dr. Suad Amiry and a group of fellow architects and intellectuals, RIWAQ is a Ramallah-based non-profit organization that protects and develops architectural heritage in Palestine.
Can design address China’s rural to urban migration? Rural Urban Frameworks (RUF) is a research and design collaborative working to help recover and rebuild villages across China that have been affected by the massive rural-to-urban migrations.
Can wind energy be harnessed with a handheld device? Shawn Frayne invented a nonturbine wind-powered generator that [could] help people in poor communities power lamps, keep small vaccine refrigerators cool and charge cell phones for relatively little cost.
What can slum dwellers teach design professionals? SPARC organizes, legitimizes and advocates for India’s urban poor, seeking improved living conditions and advancements in rights. SPARC believes that with structural support, the urban poor can make their destinies.
Can art transform a nation torn apart by conflict and strife? Studios Kabako’s cultural programs and urban interventions create a network for artistic expression in a city isolated by war, political corruption, civil strife, and poverty. In addition, through international commissions and performances, the studio informs an international audience of the geopolitical consequences of postcolonial instability and the exploitation of the Central Africa region.
Can menstrual pads contribute to economic opportunities for women? Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) has designed a menstrual pad made from banana tree fibers—a local, renewable resource that SHE sources from two (largely female) farming co-ops in the eastern region of the country.
How can architecture bring dignity in war-torn regions? Studio TAMassociati is a nonprofit architecture firm that specializes in designing healthcare facilities in war-torn areas, highlighting the connection between the built environment and the basic needs of life.
Can your neighborhood become a self-sufficient community? The Transition Network is an organization whose role is to inspire, encourage, connect, support, and train communities as they create initiatives that rebuild resilience and reduce CO2 emissions.
How can designers address poverty in American cities? Dr. Wesley Janz is a Professor Emeritus of Architecture at Ball State University, Indiana and the founder of OneSmallProject. Currently, he is working to draw attention to the issues central to the U.S. prison system.