MASS Design Group's Cholera Treatment Center in Haiti is now under way. Rendering courtesy of MASS Design Group
Like any good starry-eyed idealist friend of public-interest design, it's easy for us to get swept up by buzzy projects—parklets! self-powered streetlamps! living algae facades!—so we're always glad when larger, more substantive bodies of work claim some of the limelight. Yesterday, the Curry Stone Design Prize announced the winners of its fifth annual award, which honors the career contributions made by pioneers of social design over their years (sometimes decades) of work. The five winners, which include MASS Design Group and the Center for Urban Pedagogy, each receive $25,000 and will claim their awards at a Harvard Graduate School of Design ceremony on November 15 at 6:30 p.m. A live webcast will be streaming here, and the recipients will present their work the following day at GSD.
And now a look at some of our favorite projects from the winners.
Butaro Hospital in Rwanda, designed by MASS Design Group with Partners in Health. Photo © Iwan Baan
MASS Design Group
Boston-based MASS Design Group combines architecture with public-health expertise to design health-care centers, like the Butaro Hospital in Rwanda, whose air circulation and floor plans thwart the spread of disease. Now, the folks at MASS are fast-tracking the construction of their Cholera Treatment Center in Haiti (top), which they aim to complete within the calendar year. A system of perforated metal screens will shade the building from the sun while contributing to the project's natural ventilation strategy. The center will also rely on local labor and materials, such as the compressed stabilized earth blocks that will be used for interior partitions.
Photo: Jeminah Ferrer
Liter of Light
The hundreds of millions of people worldwide who live in improvised settlements spend a lot of time in the dark. Though many live in sunny climates in regions such as southeast Asia, the need for shade and respite from the heat means that many shelters are often pitch black. Kerosene and candles—not to mention ad-hoc electrical wiring—carry health risks, leaving much of this population without a reliable light source. Enter the Filipino entrepreneur Illac Diaz, who devised the ingeniously no-tech solar bottle bulbs. His Liter of Light is even simpler than the popular solar LED lantern D.Lite: it's a plastic soda bottle filled with water, fitted into a standard metal roof tile, and installed as a skylight. When the sun shines, the water disperses the light a full 360 degrees—enough to illuminate a whole room. To date, the soda bottle skylight has lit up more than 30,000 homes in the Philippines and approximately 110,000 dwellings in the rest of the world.
Image courtesy of the Center for Urban Pedagogy
The Center for Urban Pedagogy
Since the 1990s the Center for Urban Pedagogy has been distilling the complex logic of New York City infrastructure and bureaucracy down to colorful posters, graphics, and toolkits. Their guides to the many rules of the city help disadvantaged groups such as immigrants and public-housing residents navigate all manner of wonky procedures, from securing the right college loans to handing an encounter with the police.
Above, a panel from their five-language booklet "Vendor Power!" which walks street vendors through the violations they might be ticketed for and offers pointers for contesting fines.
Jeanne van Heeswijk
The Rotterdam-based artist Jeanne van Heeswijk is like a redevelopment agency of one. Back in 2002, when an urban renewal scheme in Vlaardingen, the Netherlands, went belly up, van Heeswijk turned the abandoned shops into artist studios, galleries, and spaces for community groups. In an ongoing commission for the Liverpool Biennial, van Heeswijk kicked off the revitalization of the city's Anfield district, where 4,000 low-income households were displaced for a market-rate development that never went anywhere. The resulting project, 2Up2Down (2010–), began with the community-led renovation of several homes and a storefront. Above, the new bakery cooperative Home Baked, which will reopen a 100-year-old bakery as a social enterprise.
A senior citizens' activity center completed in 2007. The center is located in Salfeet, a Palestinian town in the central West Bank. Photo © Riwaq Archive
Riwaq Center for Architectural Conservation
Founded in 1991 to document and preserve Palestinian historical sites, Riwaq began by creating a registry of historic buildings in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Since then the group has undertaken larger projects, such as protecting whole historic centers and addressing infrastructure and green space. Riwaq takes on these initiatives with local citizens, who learn the skills they need in workshops. Above, a restored building in the West Bank that now houses a senior center.