Being the Trimtrab

Six finalists announced for this year’s Fuller Challenge

Awards Environment International
One of Pitch Africa Waterbank school's. (Courtesy BFI)
One of Pitch Africa Waterbank school's. (Courtesy BFI)

The Buckminster Fuller Institute (BFI) has unveiled six finalists for this year’s Fuller Challenge. Whittled down from a semi-final list of 19, the winning team is in line for a $100,000 prize that would go toward the development and implementation of their scheme.

First launched in 2007, the competition strives to pioneer holistic approaches that cover a wide breadth of problems within social, environmental, and design fields. A stringent selection process and rigorous entry criteria have led to the competition to be known as “Socially-Responsible Design’s Highest Award.” Proposals were evaluated if they were “visionary, comprehensive, anticipatory, ecologically responsible, feasible, and verifiable.” This year was also the first year that the BFI accepted student proposals. Undergoing a separate review process, student winners will be subject to a different awarding process. “In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in student entries to the Challenge,” said Fuller Challenge Program Manager Megan Ahearn. “We’re now devoting time and resources to a separate review track for student entries, and we look forward to publicly recognizing work from university-level entrants.”

“It is a significant achievement to be selected as a finalist,” the institute says on its website. “Each of the projects highlighted below deserves recognition and support.” On that note, here are the six finalists:

exterior grove rendering

Exterior Grove rendering for the Urban Death Center. (Courtesy BFI)

The Urban Death Project

“The Urban Death Project (UDP) has designed a scalable, regenerative death care model based on the natural process of decomposition. In the Recomposition centers that the UDP envisions, bodies and forest waste are composted and transformed into soil. These centers are hybrid public park, funeral home, and memorial space, with the potential to be situated in repurposed urban infrastructure. The Recomposition process eliminates the need for the millions of feet of hardwood, tons of concrete, gallons of toxic embalming fluids, and land required for traditional funerary practices (burial or cremation), while giving back to the earth with nutrient compost.”

Cooperación Comunitaria

“Cooperación Comunitaria is implementing a comprehensive model to radically improve the living conditions of marginalized populations in Mexico by working with communities to rebuild their homes—combining sound geological and engineering risk analysis with local indigenous wisdom. The project leaders engage with local people in the placement, design, and building of affordable, seismically sound, eco-friendly, culturally appropriate dwellings using local materials. In addition to their efforts in the built environment, Cooperación Comunitaria works on education and training programs, sustainable economic development through agroforestry and agro-ecological projects, as well as the revival and revitalization of local indigenous culture, including its herbal and medical traditions.”


One of Pitch Africa Waterbank school's. (Courtesy BFI)

One of Pitch Africa Waterbank school’s. (Courtesy BFI)

Waterbank Schools by PITCHAfrica

PITCHAfrica has used community dynamics to address the need for water. Their design intervention is a “social, educational, medical, environmental, and economic intervention.” “The model takes a common architectural form and adds a trimtab: water catchment and filtration systems that transform the use of the structure, makes certain behaviors obsolete, and directly addresses the lack of a critical resource. Embedded in this new model is the understanding that community values are a top priority, from who builds the actual structure to its use for numerous activities.”

CommuniTree by Taking Root

“CommuniTree is a simple but practical, well-executed approach to tackling three interlinked problems: deforestation, climate change, and poverty. The project ingeniously connects the dots around CO2 reduction and the generation of sustainable, local economies through a multi-faceted reforestation program. The sale of carbon credits and sustainable wood products serve as financial mechanisms to support widespread reforestation by small, stakeholder farmers in areas vulnerable to the effects of climate change in Nicaragua.”

An aerial view of the Great Bear rainforest, as part of the Tides Canada Initiatives’ Rainforest Solutions Project. (Courtesy Andrew Wright)

An aerial view of the Great Bear rainforest, as part of the Tides Canada Initiatives’ Rainforest Solutions Project. (Courtesy Andrew Wright)

The Rainforest Solutions Project

“The Tides Canada Initiatives’ Rainforest Solutions Project has designed a groundbreaking “Ecosystem-Based Management Model” that draws from cutting-edge environmental science, deep cultural respect for First Nations’ sovereignty, and political savvy. Previously the project team had paved the way for a historic 250-year agreement between all the stakeholders of British Columbia’s enormous coastal rainforests (26 “first nations,” lumber and mining corporations, leading environmental organizations, and the BC provincial and Canadian federal governments) to conserve and sustainably manage the 15-million acre Great Bear Rainforest.”

Una Hakika by the Sentinel Project

“The Sentinel Project has developed Una Hakika: a hybrid of communications technology, social insight, and beneficial use of social media. The project leverages both online and offline “informational architecture” to de-escalate conflict in regions where misinformation can lead to violence or genocide. Interethnic and inter-communal violence is often dramatically exacerbated by inflammatory rumors. The Una Hakika pilot project quickly and effectively uses all available communication tools–including village councils, mobile phones, radio, print, and one-on-one conversation–to defuse conflict, with projects operating on the ground in both Kenya and Myanmar.”

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