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: 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." 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." 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."
Posts tagged with "Buckminster Fuller Challenge":
In its ninth iteration, The Buckminster Fuller Institute (BFI) has revealed 19 semifinalists for the 2016 Fuller Challenge. 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 has led to the competition to be known as "Socially-Responsible Design's Highest Award." "Bucky made an urgent call for a ‘Design Science Revolution’ to make the world work for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone,” said BFI Executive Director Elizabeth Thompson. "Answering this call is what the Fuller Challenge is all about" 2015 Fuller Challenge Video from Buckminster Fuller Institute on Vimeo. For this year's challenge, submissions were whittled-down to 19 proposals which went before the Challenge Review Committee. The proposals were judged if they were "visionary, comprehensive, anticipatory, ecologically responsible, feasible, and verifiable." The winning submission, due to be unveiled later this year, will receive $100,000 that will be used to aid the development and implementation of the scheme. 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.” In their call for proposals this year, the BFI said that they were seeking "whole-system solutions that demonstrate a clear grasp of the ‘big-picture’ and focus on a well-defined need of critical importance. If, for example, a proposal emphasizes a new design, material, process, service, tool, or technology, it is essential that it be part of an integrated strategy that simultaneously addresses key social, environmental, and economic factors." The semi-finalists fell into six categories: The Built Environment; Human Health; Food Production; Human Rights and Development; Materials and the Circular Economy and Environment and Resources. The 19 semi-finalists listed below have been divided into these categories, as done so by the BFI: The Built Environment
- The African Design Center: Led by Rwandan designer Christian Benimana and the MASS Design Group, this project aims to transform the African built environment through a comprehensive program to recruit and train the next generation of African designers and architects.
- Build Change: Over 200 million people worldwide live with the constant threat of being killed by their house collapsing in an earthquake or windstorm, as the death toll in Ecuador's recent earthquake so tragically illustrated. Build Change is a unique international initiative working to boost natural disaster preparedness on a large scale by engaging holistically with all the stakeholders: homeowners in the poorest, most vulnerable, "informal" areas; local builders, planners, engineers, and architects; and municipal, regional and national governments.
- Cooperación Comunitaria: In 2013, hurricanes Manuel and Ingrid devastated the West of Mexico, causing 200 deaths and affecting over 230,000 people. Cooperación Comunitaria has envisioned and is implementing a comprehensive model to radically improve these marginalized populations' living conditions by working with communities to rebuild—combining sound geological and engineering risk analysis with local indigenous wisdom.
- PITCHAfrica: This group’s Waterbank Schools are working demonstrations of the remarkable leveraging power of water catchment as a socially integrated solution to resource scarcity. In a world in which one billion people are living without access to clean water and water-borne illnesses are rampant, this simple design offers an elegant and practical way to improve sanitation, health, and education (especially for girls, who are often the ones tasked with water collection in their families and often miss school for that reason).
- Concern America: This project empowers local communities in isolated and underserved regions to provide the bulk of their medical services themselves. Working with mostly rural, poor communities in Colombia, Guatemala, and Mexico, they train community members to become Health Promoter Practitioners (HPPs). Concern America aims to install self-reliance instead of supplying traditional aid work.
- Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE): SHE has designed a comprehensive strategy to locally produce menstrual sanitary pads for women and girls in the developing world. The eco-friendly pads are made from agricultural residue (discarded banana fiber) using no chemicals and very little water, simultaneously raising consciousness in the larger society in order to dispel unproductive attitudes surrounding menstruation.
- The Urban Death Project (UDP): UDP has designed a scalable, regenerative urban system based on the natural process of decomposition, with the first full-scale human composting facility to be located in the city of Seattle, Washington. UDP hopes to minimize wastage in death in light of the fact that each year in U.S. cemeteries, 30 million board-feet of hardwood, 90,000 tons of steel, 1.6 million tons of concrete, and millions of gallons of formaldehyde-laden embalming fluid are buried. Cremation meanwhile emits 600 million pounds of CO2 annually in the U.S. alone.
- ECOTIERRA is a certified B corporation working to create a sustainable agricultural economy across the Andes cordillera, with plans to replicate their model in Cote d’Ivoire and Colombia. The company works as a matchmaker, connecting investors to coffee and cocoa cooperatives throughout Peru. The cooperatives partner with ECOTIERRA to develop a customized, bottom-up agroforestry design that suits their land and production needs, and in turn the cooperatives receive additional revenue from carbon offsets.
- MIT Open Agriculture Initiative develops open-source "controlled environment agriculture" (CEA) technologies to experiment and innovate in seeking alternatives to the unsustainable and destructive practices of industrial agriculture, and to make highly localized food production more viable. The project has designed transparent, open-source, "hackable" hardware and software platforms to allow indoor farmers conduct networked experiments in "food computers."
- Glasswing International has designed a highly effective program to protect and re-integrate children emigrating from the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala) into their communities, schools, and families. Using a referral system that draws on and coordinates all the major stakeholders, they seek to integrate mental health counseling, support services, education, vocational training, recreation, and more in order to create safe pathways for youth to avoid endemic gang violence and have the opportunity to thrive.
- International Bridges to Justice (IBJ): IBJ seeks to end the torture and abuse of detainees by training attorneys and legal officials in legal best practices, and by creating a global legal community that can be supportive and protective of lawyers working in difficult contexts. A legal system that respects human rights norms is one of the defining hallmarks of a civilized society.
- The Sentinel Project's Una Hakika system is an effective approach to defusing inter-ethnic/inter-communal violence and tension in the world's highest risk "hot spots" for conflict, using the communication tools most relevant in a given context. Their work aims to counteract inflammatory misinformation and rumors with trusted, accurate information.
- South Vihar Welfare Society for Tribal (ASHRAY): ASHRAY is an exemplary organization that seeks to address the roots of the problem among one of the world's poorest and most oppressed groups: tribal people in India. ASHRAY, a totally grassroots effort led by local women, works with tribal communities in Jharkand State to bolster education, skills training, agricultural production and food security, economic opportunities, and women's empowerment, all to counteract the poverty and social instability that make trafficking possible in the first place.
- Evrnu, SPC has developed a proprietary technology that goes far beyond standard garment recycling to deconstruct used cotton textiles at the molecular level, creating a range of multi-purpose regenerated cellulose fibers far stronger and more durable than the original fabrics. Currently, consumers dispose of 80% of all textiles directly to landfill. If Evrnu’s technology, still at an early stage of development, succeeds in the market and is widely adopted, it could "upcycle" millions of tons of polluting waste.
- Procesos Proambientales Xaquixe has created a methodology for micro-industrial sustainability by implementing a wide range of alternative energy technologies and by repurposing discarded materials from local waste streams. This system fosters a trans-disciplinary network of small businesses, or ¨eco-clusters,¨ which share knowledge and resources to sustainably enrich their communities and economies while helping detoxify their environment.
- ZERI Network and Sanctuary Asia (with the support of APPL), the brainchild of renowned eco-entrepreneur and activist Gunter Pauli and his Blue Economy initiative, is a comprehensive project that seeks to simultaneously tackle multiple goals: conservation, wildlife and biodiversity protection in one of the world's most diverse regions (which includes endangered rhinos, tigers, and elephants); food security, sustainable economic development, and effective social services for a currently impoverished population; and the demonstration of cutting-edge organic agro-ecological methods' capacity to be competitive.
- KTK-BELT is a home-grown Nepalese biodiversity preservation, conservation, education, rural sustainable development, and job creation initiative that seeks to protect and share the invaluable ecological knowledge held by local/indigenous people in a "vertical university," which will stretch from Koshi Tappu (67 meters above sea level), Nepal's largest aquatic bird reserve, to Kanchenjunga (8,586 meters above sea level). The “vertical university” will include plots of research land in various locations and eventually corridors between them.
- Taking Root's CommuniTree project seeks to tackle three interlinked problems: deforestation, climate change, and poverty, through a comprehensive reforestation and carbon sequestration strategy. Currently working with thousands of smallholding rural farming families in Nicaragua (and earlier-stage projects in Guatemala) as well as local, regional, and national governments and international "social" investors and donors, the program engages farmers to reforest degraded, marginal, underutilized portions of their farms with a range of native tree species suited to each locale, and trains them to manage their trees effectively using innovative data collection tools.
- 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.
Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre, co-founders of Ecovative, want the world of material packaging to enter “The Mushroom Age” and they have the approval of the Buckminster Fuller Institute. Founded in 2009, the upstate New York company has developed biocompatible, strong, lightweight, and fireproof fungi-based packaging as a sustainable replacement for polystyrene foam, widely used but made of environmentally harmful plastics. In August, AN reported Ecovative’s Mushroom Packaging project as a semi-finalist in the 2013 Buckminster Fuller Institute Challenge. This week, BFI awarded the entry first place in its $100,000 competition for socially responsive design. Combining agricultural waste and fungi tissue into a “mushroom material,” Bayer and McIntyre discovered that they could grow the solution into the shape of any mold, dry it, and create a strong solid with characteristics similar to Styrofoam. But, unlike Styrofoam whose production releases toxic substances, packaging made of mushrooms is net-positive and creates a closed loop production system. It is also cost-competitive. Bayer says that Evocative hopes its natural and ecologically friendly mushroom packaging will “completely displace petroleum-based packaging in the market.” He continues, “We’ve taken the best of agricultural mushroom technology, living systems technology, and paired it with serious, logical, engineer-type thinking about how we use these living systems. And then come up with a really innovative product.” After discovering the unique bonding ability of mushroom mycelium, fungi tissue with branch-like growing fibers, Ecovative has already begun expanding its use beyond packaging and into material for inexpensive housing, furniture, surfboards, and footwear. In a statement announcing Ecovative as their 2013 Challenge winner, BFI praised the initiative as a “ground-breaking enterprise” and “an extraordinary example” of “comprehensive, anticipatory, ecologically responsible, feasible, replicable, and verifiable” design for the improvement of a pressing human problem.
Just as soon as they were announced, deliberation has begun on the nineteen semi-finalists in the 2013 Buckminster Fuller Challenge. In the spirit of architect Buckminster Fuller’s call for revolutionary scientific design, this international design competition summons participants to innovate sustainable, long-term solutions for “humanity’s most pressing problems.” This year, the jury has chosen projects that vary in subject and method, re-envisioning current global systems or addressing specific gaps within them. Each submission is judged on adherence to Buckminster Fuller's idea of a "preferred state model," one whose initial conception leads to the most desirable outcome. Criteria include relevant vision, comprehensive strategy, anticipation of future effects, ecological responsibility, feasibility, verifiability, and opportunity for replication in similar conditions. Projects must also be accurately timed for advantageous change. The semi-finalist projects are: · The Loowatt System · Regenerating Healthy Soils Through Sustainable Sanitation (SOIL) · Mushroom Packaging (Ecovative) · Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science · Bioenergy Value Chain · Healthy Watersheds for Clean Energy · TBS River Regeneration · The Green Chemistry Commitment · International Bridges to Justice Training Resource Center · Voltree Acoustic Early Detection Sensor System · 100,000 Homes Campaign · Eliminating Poverty Through the “Traffic Light” Strategy · Echale a tu Casa · MASS Design Lab: Building Systematic Change · Build Change’s Homeowner-Driven Technical Assistance for Safer Housing · PITCHAfrica: Waterbank Schools · Ento · Olazul: Ecological Shrimp Aquaculture · Agroforestry Reconnecting People and Nature The 2013 entries focus mostly on global topics concerning ecological and condition of life improvements. Holistic solutions that are locally and globally applicable, they range from the introduction of insects into the Western diet to a design laboratory dedicated to socially responsive architecture. The jury will continue deliberation into the next six weeks, concluding with a final, in-person negotiation on October 7th. On this date, they will also host a public discussion at Marfa Dialogues in New York City. See details of each semi-finalist entry here.