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  • PlayPumps Water System

    Aid, Industrial Design

    After going to the Copper Hewitt’s “Design for the other 90%” exhibit, I was a little shocked they were missing the PlayPumps Water System PlayPumps International. It converts the energy of a simple children’s merry-go-round into clean water. As the children play and spin, water is being pumped from underground wells into storage tanks, saving the people time and energy not having to haul the water. This is type of design that not only making life easier for people, but provides children with something to play on. It is a known fact, that for children to grow and learn, playing is a key aspect.

    While walking through the exhibit, I think many designers forgot about the activity their designing and only the results (example: having someone stepping on bamboo for hours, to get the result of watering fields). The PlayPumps shows us that we can combine an enjoyable activity with a very important result. I think this should have been at the Copper Hewitt, because people would relate with action of play and maybe it would make people think that designing for the other 90% isn’t just about results but the activity as well.

  • Healthy education

    Education, Environmental Design

    Bad_ed_177_

    There is a major epidemic with the quality of education in the US as well as with the educational facilities. This is more than a concern but a reality. The list of problems we are leaving for the next generation continues to grow. I see this as an opportunity and a challenge. As designers, I find the best solution is to incorporate the integrative design process. Educators, designers, engineers, environmentalists and others all need to be at the table to address these problems with education. Here a few quotes to put it in better perspective.

    " Forty years was the average age of educational buildings in 1999." -National Center of Educational Statistics

    "Forty-two years is the lifespan of an educational facility." -U.S. General Accounting Office

    Also the U.S. General Accounting Office state that air is unfit to breathe in nearly 15,000 public schools.

    For more info Minding Buildings

  • guerilla peacefare

    Peace, Audio/Visual Design

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    London's resident delinquent may terrorize authorities with his graphic renderings of cops making out and Mona Lisa with an uzi, but Banksy's work often suggests a more constructive image than the persistently anti-establishment artist would like to admit. If all street art is symptomatic of the absence of a forum for public dissent, Banksy's series of paintings on the West Bank Barrier transports this sentiment to a place where this issue is most pronounced. Trompe l'oeil images of an idyllic Eden penetrate the controversial wall between Israel and Palestine, perhaps the only way to break down the barrier without physical demolition.

  • Jumping on the Bed

    Environment

    I made a very exciting purchase today - an organic latex mattress. A local business, Monterey Mattress, is beta testing this new product after being inspired by a large order from Joseph Campbell's old hang out, Esalen. And there's a long line forming around the block as people give their tired wire springs and petroleum-based foam beds the boot. Does anyone know if these are recyclable?

  • Navajo Elder Hogan Homes

    Community, Environmental Design

    Nathanielcorum8_177_

    These housing prototypes and building components grew out of a participatory design process with Navajo communities in the American Southwest. Facilitated by Indigenous Community Enterprises (I.C.E., a Navajo non-profit) and design director Nathaniel Corum, this collaboration with Navajo elders and other tribal members produced a range of culturally-appropriate home designs. Each prototype home features an octagonal hogan - a traditional form adapted to contemporary circumstances according to the desires and traditions of Dine (Navajo) elders - and materials that are native to place. For example, small diameter timbers stem from tribal forestry restoration. Concrete products and other materials come from Navajo sources, and wheat straw bales are from Navajo Agricultural Products Industry fields.

    The barrier-free floor plan, comprised of a concentrated wet core within an insulating straw bale envelope, allows for an efficient layout within a small footprint. This system can scale up or down, orient to solar and wind patterns for passive heating and cooling, and be partitioned flexibly in order to adapt to changing inhabitant needs.

    Straw bale construction is amenable to community and volunteer participation. The material is a non-toxic and readily available agricultural by-product, and acts as a super-insulating envelope to give comfort, beauty and efficiency in colder climes. In this load-bearing example the straw bale walls serve as both structure and insulation.

    This ...

  • Nathanielcorum7_177_

    “The United States Government has condemned over 200 Indian homes on this reservation due to black mold infestation. Currently it is very common to find two or three families living in a two-bedroom housing unit … the people are ready for a change … The straw bale design is an opportunity to develop, efficient housing for the residents of the Turtle Mountain Reservation.”

    — Richard Monette, Tribal Chairman, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa

    In the Turtle Mountain community of North Dakota more than 1,000 homes were already urgently needed when several hundred homes were recently condemned. In response to this shortage, the Environmental Research Center at Turtle Mountain Community College was designed as both a learning laboratory and a model for future home construction. The project features straw bale construction, which is an affordable and energy-efficient housing solution especially when built with a frost-protected shallow foundation. As an additional benefit, the building was constructed with community involvement, transferring straw bale construction skills to tribal members.

    Designed through a participatory charette process, the building demonstrates the use of low-impact (on both health and environment) products, passive and active solar power, radiant heating, evaporative cooling, post-agricultural building materials, rainwater collection, within a barrier-free, culturally appropriate design informed by tribal college and community members.

    The Envi...

  • I found this article in the NY Times to be pretty interesting. Researchers have " showed that point-of-sale advertising and other marketing significantly increase the likelihood that junior and senior high school students will try smoking or become habitual smokers." Now although smoking companies say their advertising is only aimed at adults, apparently even kids who see price reductions in cigarettes will be tempted to try smoking.

    Here's the link, hope you enjoy

  • Thoughts on the globalization of design

    Community, Communication Design

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    I am lucky. I was born in Switzerland, where I learned how you should design. Now I live and work in different countries, I speak different languages, and my friends come from different parts of the world. One family. I am very lucky.

    Then I think, how come design always looks the same, feels the same? I meet international designers and I can't see any difference between their work and mine. Even though they come from across the globe, the cultural variety seems to be watered down. Things like the Internet, international exhibitions, low cost airlines and the domination of the English language have opened the door to the whole world.

    Is it really the whole world or just what is adaptable with western standards? Is it necessary? Or maybe, do I have to know other cultures' identities in order to understand mine?

    I don't know.

  • NYC’s yellow cabs to go hybrid within 5 years

    Environment, Environmental Design

    Every yellow cab in this city will be a fuel-efficient hybrid by 2012, and stricter emissions and gas mileage standards for taxis will be phased in starting next year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday.

    Read more on <a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18800305/">MSNBC</a>

  • Carpet_177_

    Check out today's NYTimes Science section for this article on Interface carpet. CEO coins the phrase "Restorative Enterprise" which I really like.

    People have been asking what Social Design is...one example I keep giving is Belu Water, which is featured here. An entity devised to be an engine of social and environmental change is social design - design for the greater good.

    Anderson had a revelation 10 years ago...he realized that in the future, his company's mere compliance with eco-law would be criminal...in hindsight. He realized they had to do something and they did. 10 years later sustainability has slashed their waste and upped their recycling, among other things. Anderson says that the company has saved $336 million over the last 10 years from these efforts.

    Cool Carpet

    While no one has developed nylon yarns that can be recycled into new carpet, they have devised a way to repurpose worn tiles into making backings for new carpet, in a product line called "cool carpet", diverting 16.8 million pounds from landfills annually.

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