MOSQUITOS, ALEJANDRO ARAVENA, & THE 2016 VENICE ARCHITECTURE BIENNALE

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Paul David’s “Inverted Ruins” (Italo Rondinella) courtesy of LA Times website.

Heading to Italy? Well this year you should check out the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale directed by Pritzker prize winning architect Alejandro Aravena. Aravena is a Chilean architect known for his affordable housing projects and activist architecture.

“The only animal that can defeat the rhinoceros is the mosquito, or a cloud of mosquitos, actually. Architects often think they are too small to make a change, but together they can smother the big animal,” says Alejandro Aravena.

The beast in question is the capitalist machine, responsible for the slew of “banality and mediocrity” in our built environment. It’s one of the battlegrounds Aravena’s biennale aims to tackle, along with migration, segregation, traffic, waste and pollution, and a host of other “urgent issues facing the whole of humanity”, as he puts it, “not just problems that only interest architects”.

Continue to read more here from Oliver Wainwright’s article from the Guardian.

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NEW COMMUNITY DESIGN CENTER OPENS DC OFFICE – BUILDING COMMUNITY WORKSHOP

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Image courtesy of [bc] website showing project Crossing the Street | Activating Ivy City

Texas based nonprofit community design center, buildingcommunityWORKSHOP, or [bc] for short, has brought their talents to Washington DC. The organization seeks to improve the livability and viability of communities through the practice of thoughtful design and making.

We enrich the lives of citizens by bringing design thinking to areas of our cities where resources are most scarce. To do so, [bc] recognizes that it must first understand the social, economic, and environmental issues facing a community before beginning work.

Read more about their DC-based project Crossing the Street | Activating Ivy City.

NATIONAL TREASURES DESIGN COMPETITION – REGISTRATION NOW OPEN!

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The Open Architecture Collaborative – Washington DC : Resilience by Design Committee is pleased to present the National Treasures Design Competition (NTDC) to promote mitigation in National Capital Region.

NTDC is an open design competition aimed at developing proactive mitigation strategies for low-lying waterfront areas of the National Mall. Participating teams are encouraged to be multidisciplinary with members from architecture, landscape design and/or engineering disciplines.  Project proposals are intended to be creative and visionary. The competition will culminate in a reception where innovative ideas will be shared, discussed, and evaluated with a diverse group of stakeholders, city representatives, and design professionals.

See more on the competition website here.

A GARDEN VARIETY HERE IN DC

There are so many great gardens with public access in the DC area. With spring finally here it’s time to venture outside and visit one of these lovely spots for a picnic or tour.

My 4 favorite gardens:

1. Dumbarton Oaks: Nestled in Georgetown, Dumbarton Oaks is a 1920s garden with many distinct areas to tour like the informal Lover’s Lane Pool and more famous Pebble Garden designed by landscape architect Ruth Havey. Garden tickets $10. Museum free.

2. Hillwood Gardens: Just off the bike paths of Rock Creek Park and only a 15 minute walk from the Van Ness metro, the Hillwood Gardens is a transit friendly escape. Tour Marjorie Post’s house and grab lunch at the cafe or bring a picnic and sit at one of the many tables overlooking the Japanese garden. Suggested donation $18 for house and garden, includes tour.

3. Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens: On the river and across from the Arboretum these aquatic gardens have a different look with lily pads and bridges. Snack alongside colorful dragonflies which are the garden’s natural mosquito control. Entrance is free.

4. Brookside Gardens: A little further away in Maryland, just off of the Northwest Branch Trail are the Brookside Gardens. One of the bigger gardens, there is lots of variety here with hiking and walking paths. During colder days their conservatory houses seasonal exhibits. Entrance is free.

DESIGNING A BETTER WORLD

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image from IDEO.org’s website

IDEO.org is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the lives of people in poor and vulnerable communities through design.

We’re an interdisciplinary mix of designers, storytellers, businesspeople, and systems-makers, a team of creative problem-solvers that is tackling the world’s biggest challenges through design. We partner with NGOs, governments, foundations, and nonprofits, going big in areas where we think design has something serious to say to the challenges of poverty.

The organization was formed in 2011 out of IDEO, a global innovation and design firm. They have created several guides and tools which can be found online in effort to spread their knowledge and the impact of design. IDEO.org’s latest online publication is Impact: A Design Perspective their first impact report. They also partner with Acumen for Human-Centered Design courses which you can read about in this previous post.

Visit IDEO.org for more online material.

 

WINNERS OF THE DC AFFORDABLE LIVING DESIGN COMPETITION

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image courtesy of DC LBCC

Last year the DC Living Building Challenge Collaborative organized a design competition for an affordable housing project in Washington DC. The competition was for 10 affordable single family homes in the historic neighborhood of Deanwood in Washington DC that are designed to meet the International Living Futures Institute’s rigorous sustainable requirements of their Living Building Challenge. Award winners will be presenting their work February 1, 2016 at Catholic University.

1st Place: The “Urban Grapevine” team was Mike Binder (Binder Regenerative Design,) Marcie Meditch (Meditch Murphey Architects,) Thomas Serra (Independent Engineering,) Lael Taylor (Meditch Murphey Architects) and Jenny Wienckowski (Rain Underground, LLC.) The project excelled in all of the Living Building Challenge v3.0 petals:  Place, Water, Energy, Health and Happiness, Material, Equity and Beauty.

2nd Place: The “Deanwood Market” team was made up of William Teass and Charles Warren (Taess Warren Architects,) Ryan Moody and Jason Reibold (Moody Landscape Architecture) and Chris French (District Homes.) This project also excelled at all of the petals, most of all energy and place.

Honorable Mention: The “Coming Together” by team 521 composed of Lindsey Falasca (Hickok Cole Architects,) Elin Zurbrigg (Mi Casa Inc,) Paul Totten (WSP in the USA,) Daniel Moring (IBC Engineering) and Apryl Webb (Skanska.) Bethany Bezak of DC Water thought this project was the most innovative in its water treatment. This project also incorporated a workplace strategy for the community.

RSVP for the event. See more from the award winners and their submissions on the DC LBCC website.

 

HUMAN-CENTERED DESIGN COURSE 2016

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What is human-centered design?

It’s a process that starts with the people you’re designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor made to suit their needs.

Advance your social impact skills this year by taking a free course on human-centered design. The design kit and online course are organized by Acumen and IDEO.org.

The Course for Human-Centered Design is a seven-week curriculum that will introduce you to the concepts of human-centered design and how this approach can be used to create innovative, effective, and sustainable solutions for social change.

The course starts February 16, 2016 and runs through April. Folks are responsible for assembling a team of 2-6 who can meet in person 5 times for each 5-hour session.

Read more about the course and other offerings on the Acumen website.