Is sustainability about working within scarcity or finding natural abundance? Studio Anna Heringer is a leader in architecture using low-tech, natural materials, often in collaboration with local community craftspeople. The resulting structures are beautiful, resilient and sustainable.
Are you ready to co-opt mass consumerism? Antonio Scarponi uses elements from architecture, multimedia arts, and design to “jam” the conventional social order.
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) uses design and art to increase civic engagement. Collaborating with artist /designers, community advocates and policymakers, CUP creates simple, accessible visual explanations for civic 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 is a Chilean architectural firm that rose to prominence by building low income urban dwellers “half a good house,” that residents could complete on their own.
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? Artist Jeanne van Heeswijk’s work centers on the relationship between public space and urban renewal. She embeds herself in communities, working with them to improve neighborhoods and design 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 re-envisioning South Africa’s post-apartheid architectural landscape. Mpahlwa pioneered a new style of architecture, integrating and elevating African-inspired design in rural and urban settings.
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? MASS Designs has worked in over a dozen countries, bringing the value—and power, of architecture to resource-limited communities.
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 sustainable development group that works to improve the lives of the rural poor in Myanmar.
Can restoration work in Palestine reinforce cultural identity? RIWAQ Centre for Architectural Conservation documents Palestinian heritage through restoration of the built environment. For Riwaq, conservation and historic restoration are tools for advancement; creating spaces where contemporary communities thrive.
Can design address China’s rural to urban migration? Imbalances caused by rural to urban migrations is an urgent geopolitical issue. In China, the issue is accelerating. Rural Urban Framework (RUF) works to stabilize and rebuild depopulated Chinese villages.
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 addresses post-war social memory, fear, and hope. It creates a network for artistic expression at home in the Congolese city of Kisangani and through international commissions.
Can menstrual pads contribute to economic opportunities for women? 18% of women and girls in Rwanda miss school and work because they cannot afford menstrual pads. SHE developed affordable, locally produced pads that provide sanitary protection and business opportunities.
How can architecture bring dignity in war-torn regions? Studio TAMassociati is a nonprofit architecture firm recognized for designing healthcare facilities in war-torn areas [...] in partnership with Emergency, an Italian NGO, that provides medical treatment to war victims.
Can your neighborhood become a self-sufficient community? The Transition Network is a global network of communities responding to global warming and declining oil with local self-sufficiency in food, energy and more.
How can designers address poverty in American cities? Architect Wes Janz focuses on the potential of informal settlements and camps housing 1 billion of the world’s poor. He sees these as a utilitarian beauty wrought of necessity.