South by Southwest Eco (SXSW Eco), an environmentally- and socially-conscious event occurring alongside the more well-known South By Southwest music and technology gathering in Austin, Texas has released its list of this year’s 36 finalists for its public space design competition, Place by Design. The selected projects represent a diverse collection of emerging design practices, many with humanitarian-based approaches. Several finalists also have ties to the West Coast’s emerging public interest design scene. Applicants compete for funding to realize projects in six categories that aim to “rethink the potential of the places around us.”
One of those teams, applying in the “Art + Interaction” category, is San Francisco-based Future Cities Lab, who aims to create a sculptural, interactive facade that translates the sound a light display. In the “Equity + Inclusion” category, MASS Design Group seeks to construct a new tuberculosis hospital to in Port-au-Prince, Haiti to replace a facility destroyed during that 2010 earthquake that devastated that country.
Mass Design Group also has an entry in the “Resilience + Health” category: a proposed cholera treatment plant in Port-au-Prince that also serves as a water treatment site. River LA, a Los Angeles-based L.A. River advocacy group, is also vying for funding in the “Resilience + Health” category. Their L.A. River Index project is a Gehry Partners-aligned study of the river’s potential for an equitable and ecological future.
In the “Revitalization” category, Olayami Dabl and his African Bead Museum are vying for funding against, among others, two Los Angeles-based design firms. The first is from LA-Más; their project provides urban design and business support services aimed at placemaking, pedestrianism, and economic revitalization along underserved business corridors in Los Angeles. The second is Alexis Rochas who has designed an interactive and tech-savvy public space in an underused scrap of land in Long Beach, California.
In the “Speculative + Prototyping” category, San Francisco-based Jennifer Pattee’s Pop Up Fitness Hub proposes installing an brightly colored, outdoor workout space for public use in Hayes Valley atop an unused parking lot. Lastly, Seattle Design Nerds’ proposal in the “Urban Strategy + Civic Engagement” category seeks funding to engage the public in architecture and urban design through interactive inflatable spaces and augmented reality games.
Winners will be announced October 12, 2016, at the end of the SXSW Eco conference, during which finalists will present their proposals to a large panel consisting of design professionals, organizers, creatives, and philanthropists.