Public Interest Design
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July 24, 2014

Introducing Active Social Architecture Studio


The rich colors of the building, earth, and landscape of the Pre-Primary School by Active Social Architecture Studio (ASA) recently caught our attention on ArchDaily. Established by two architects–Tomà Berlanda and Nerea Amorós Elorduy–in Kigali, Rwanda, the young practice is working with local and international organizations to build spaces that improve people’s livelihoods, empower communities, and strengthen their sense of identity. With ten impressive projects in their portfolio thus far, the pre-primary school project has big aims to set the Rwandan standards for pre-primary facilities by using materials and construction to engage kids in self-learning and stimulation.

Projects and built works reflect ASA’s belief in the richness and complexity of schemes drawn from, and responding to, the specificities of sites, programs and users bringing innovation through spatial composition, and the adaptive use of local materials and techniques. Architecture is understood as a creative means to problem solving, providing cost effective solutions that are attractive, affordable and improve upon the existing environment.

Click here to read more about ASA, online at

July 24, 2014

$5 Million Awarded to NEA Our Town Projects


The fourth annual Our Town grant program has announced 66 arts-based community development projects that will receive a cumulative total of $5.07 million. The grantees fall into two categories: arts engagement activities with an artistic production focus, like M12 Collective’s Action on the Plains, and design and cultural planning to develop support systems and infrastructure, like the Beltline in Atlanta. Since 2011, Our Town has awarded over $21 million to 256 projects that are authentic, equitable, and augment existing local assets–all contributing to stronger communities in cities and rural areas around the nation.

“The NEA is leading a national conversation around how to do community development where the arts play a central role in bringing together diverse voices and perspectives to positively impact residents and visitors alike,” said Chairman Jane Chu. “Through Our Town funding and our related White House and interagency partnerships, the NEA and its grantees are working together to continue positioning arts organizations as community leaders.”

Click here to read about the 2014 Our Town grant recipients, online at

July 23, 2014

Participate in Our First Reader Survey


Our small but mighty team here at is preparing for a big transition to the Impact Design Hub–an expanded website featuring original articles, infographics, videos, and a huge directory of resources. But before we get too far into planning, we need your help in shaping it.

We have put together a 7-minute survey to hear about what you want to learn more about, how you prefer to receive our news, and what you need to do your work better. Ultimately, our goal is to get to know you better so we can tailor and curate our content to suit your needs. The survey will be open for two weeks and all responses will need to be in by August 6th.

We truly value your insights, opinions, and continual support of and the soon-to-be Impact Design Hub. Thank you in advance for your participation in helping grow the dialogue around design for a better world!

- The and Autodesk Foundation team

Click here to participate in the survey, online at

July 23, 2014

Today: Hangout with MASS and D-Rev


At 12pm PT/ 3pm ET today, the Autodesk Foundation’s Director Joe Speicher will host a Google Hangout with team members from grantee organizations MASS Design Group and D-Rev. This is an opportunity for the two nonprofits to share highlights from their work, discuss their role within the communities they serve and also talk more broadly about the impact of design. Join the first-ever Autodesk Foundation Hangout session today to hear more from D-Rev’s ReMotion Product Manager Vinesh Narayan and MASS Design Group’s Manager Patricia Gruits.

Click here to register and attend the first Autodesk Foundation Google Hangout, online at

July 23, 2014

Future Innovators Design Vehicles for Change


Our next generation of innovators–children–have designed vehicles to alleviate global issues for the Dream Car Art Contest, a collaborative campaign between Saatchi & Saatchi Fallon and Toyota. This year, 660,000 kids ages 4 to 15 from over 75 countries submitted their drawings of future vehicles and the results are inventive, progressive, and heartwarming. The judges have selected 90 semi-finalists whose drawings have been developed into delightful six-second animated Vine videos at the Dream Car of the Day Campaign. Here is a sampling of our favorites that are addressing issues around overpopulation, recycling, pollution, and happiness:

Euphory Car by Ema Lavrikova, age 14, Slovak Republik
If it sucks in smog, it will be in a good mood.

Solving Population Explosion on Earth by Nireka Singh, age 7, South Africa
My car is uniquely built with special engine that does an unusual job by transporting house from earth to planet mars to relieve over-population. As soon as a community is established further building of house could commence right on that planet. We may need to find out who is going to be the president???

Swallows Broken Plastics Into Building Blocks by Sumeeth Singh, age 10, South Africa
As mentioned my car devours any broken plastic items and turn them into good building blocks that can be used for housing purposes. We clear the beach areas, parks and gardens, river banks and even along the roadside to keep our environment clean. Irresponsible people continue pumping these broken items all over the place.

Love & Peace Car by Sirirot Khotuaongsa, age 15, Thailand
I just love to see the world filled with only love, happiness and peace. No sufferings for anyone and everyone is willing to share as well as be kind to one another. In this way, we all could live in harmony.

Click here to see all of the Dream Car of the Day semi-finalists, online at

July 22, 2014

Apply for The Lighthouse Design Impact Award


The Lighthouse–a Mackintosh-designed building housing Scotland’s Center for Design and Architecture–has opened up submissions to the second bi-annual Design Impact Award. Launched in 2012, the award aims to recognize the impacts that completed projects have had on the way we live and work. With support from Creative Scotland and Glasgow City Council, award winners will receive a prize of £5,000 along with a feature place in a public exhibition with shortlisted entries. Applications are due Friday, September 5th, 2014.

The Lighthouse is a visitor centre, exhibition space and events venue situated in the heart of Glasgow, just off the Style Mile. The Lighthouse acts as a beacon for the creative industries in Scotland and promotes design and architecture through a vibrant programme of exhibitions and events.

Click here to learn more and apply for The Lighthouse Design Impact Award, online at


July 22, 2014

Graham Foundation 2015 Grant Applications Open


Applications are now being accepted for the Graham Foundation’s annual Grants to Individuals program. Since 1956, the foundation has provided direct funding to individuals to produce publications, exhibitions, films, research, and other projects that “foster the development and exchange of diverse and challenging ideas about architecture and its role in the arts, culture, and society.” Last year, the foundation awarded over $520,000 to 68 individual projects. For individuals interested in applying for the 2015 grant cycle, the foundation has four main criteria: Originality, Potential for impact, Feasibility, and Capacity. Applicants must submit an online Inquiry Form–the first stage of a two-stage process–by September 15, 2014.

Architecture and related spatial practices engage a wide range of cultural, social, political, technological, environmental, and aesthetic issues. We are interested in projects that investigate the contemporary condition, expand historical perspectives, or explore the future of architecture and the designed environment. We support innovative, thought-provoking investigations in architecture; architectural history, theory, and criticism; design; engineering; landscape architecture; urban planning; urban studies; visual arts; and related fields of inquiry.

Click here to learn more about the 2015 Graham Foundation Grants to Individuals program, online at

Image source: The Last Bridge Master (2014 Grantee)

July 22, 2014 Announces 5 Funded ‘Amplify’ Ideas


The Amplify Challenge on Women’s Safety announced five project teams who will receive seed funding and design support from The program was conceived in collaboration with OpenIDEO and UK Department for International Development with the goal to bring a more human-centered approach to aid for people living in extreme poverty. Over the next 12 to 18 months, will work with the individuals and organizations from the five funded projects directly to support their efforts to launch, iterate on and refine their pilots.

A Pop-Up Learning Center in Mumbai’s Red-Light District
Creating a safe space in Mumbai’s red-light district – one of the city’s most marginalized communities – where girls learn life skills and become agents of social change.

Life Skills Camp for Girls During School Holiday Breaks
A series of structured life-skills camps held during school holiday breaks in Uganda that help girls avoid exploitation, build self-confidence, and explore their dreams for the future.

Engaging Men in Urban Slums in the Fight Against Gender-Based Violence
A peer-to-peer education campaign to encourage men and boys in Kenya about preventing gender-based violence. The curriculum will be delivered through soccer clubs and other existing community initiatives.

“Community Concierge” Program
Working together with an organization in Nepal, this project seeks to identify and train female leaders, who in turn provide information and guidance to other women in their community.

Kidogo: Child Care Franchises in Urban Slums
A ‘business-in-a-box’ that helps women in Kenya launch their own in-home childcare business – providing a safe space for children in the community and steady employment for young mothers.

Click here to read more about all five Amplify funded ideas, online at

July 21, 2014

Help Kickstart Beacon Alley Skateboards by Friday

Following up on our post from a few weeks ago, MakeLab–a collaboration between Future PartnersHERObike, and The Design Department at the University of Kansas–are crowdfunding to launch Beacon Alley Skateboards, the second product to accompany the Semester bicycle. With five days remaining in the Kickstarter campaign, this new venture is on a mission to build bamboo composite skateboards in Alabama’s Black Belt yet still needs $7,000 to meet their goal. Your support will not only go towards building beautiful herringbone woven skateboards but will also provide job training for people in rural Hale County.

MakeLab is a collaborative design group developing social enterprises to benefit regions in need of jobs and job training. Leveraging design experience in developing advanced bamboo composites from the bicycle project and several months of R&D at the renown Bamboo Studio in Mumbai, Professor Lance Rake has developed a bamboo composite skateboard design that uses the strength and vertical compliance of bamboo, strengthened and stiffened in key areas with fiberglass and carbon fiber to make a deck that is fun, responsive, and a joy to look at.

Click here to read more and support Beacon Alley Skateboards, online at

July 18, 2014

Support “Within Formal Cities” on IndieGoGo

Recent North Carolina State University architecture graduates Abe Drechsler and Brian Gaudio are taking a journey around South America to share stories and document designs in the research project “Within Formal Cities.” Supported in part by the Duda Traveling Fellowship, the team is crowdfunding on IndieGoGo to raise an additional $7,000 to help produce a short documentary series and online publication of their research into informal South American communities. With over 30% raised thus far and 28 days remaining in the campaign, Abe and Brian’s cheeky awards are sure to go fast for this much-needed and highly relevant project.

Our goal is to share stories and designs from informal communities in 5 cities in South America: Bogota, Colombia; Lima, Peru; Santiago, Chile; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Sao Paulo, Brazil. We will document everything from self-built houses in the favelas of Rio, to government projects designed by world famous architects. Along with drawing and photographing the buildings, we will interview designers, professors, and community organizers to bring to light the creativity in which South American cities are dealing with the global housing crises. We will also create a short documentary series and online publication and present our work through a physical exhibit and lecture to bring awareness to these issues. Through this work we can challenge the next generation of architects and designers to do more, to bring good design to those who need it!

Click here to support the project on, or click here to learn more about the project on

Autodesk Foundation is an evolving resource of the Autodesk Foundation, a first-of-its-kind foundation focused on design for a better world.



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