In honor of the Curry Stone Design Prize's tenth anniversary, the nonprofit is honoring 100 notable social designers with a spot in their Social Design Circle. Each month, the Prize focuses on a specific social issue, recognizing several firms whose work directly addresses that topic. January asked if designers should be outlaws and February challenged the existence of a right to housing. For the month of the March, the Curry Stone Prize asked the question: Can design challenge inequality? Eight groups are highlighted this month, including architecture firms, product designers, nonprofits, and more. These firms each address issues of inequality in unique ways, promoting community, leadership, and inclusiveness. Members of some of the teams will be featured on a weekly podcast, Social Design Insights, hosted by Eric Cesal, special projects director for the Curry Stone Design Prize, and Emiliano Gandolfi, director of the Curry Stone Design Prize. A new episode is released each Thursday, focusing on that month’s design challenge. “We seek to increase the impact of these creative and constructive individuals by supporting them during their efforts to develop visionary approaches to achieve change,” said the Curry Stone Foundation (which supports the Prize) on its website. Read on to learn more about the eight firms honored this month. Active Social Architecture Al Borde D-Rev Detroit Collaborative Design Center El Equipo Mazzanti Isla Urbana Project H Public Architecture To find out more about past honorees you can visit the Curry Stone Design Prize’s website here.
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Hong Kong–based nonprofit research and design firm Rural Urban Framework (RUF) won the Curry Stone Design Prize for its work rebuilding villages across China. Joshua Bolchover and John Lin, both professors at the University of Hong Kong, founded RUF in 2006. Their goal is to harness design to “stabilize, reinvigorate, and rebuild” China’s rural populations. Currently, China is experiencing a mass exodus of population from villages as people move to cities in search of better opportunities. In 1980, approximately 80 percent of all Chinese lived in villages. Today, more than half of the population lives in cities. According to research by Tianjin University, China loses approximately 300 villages every single day. Working closely with the locals, RUF has completed a variety of projects to meet each community’s specific needs, including bridges, schools, hospitals, houses, and even a garbage collection center. To date, RUF has worked in 18 villages to combat the effects urban sprawl and is designing and planning entire villages and prototype housing. “The work of RUF is addressing one of the most urgent current geopolitical issues, how to deal with the imbalances created by large mass migrations,” said Emiliano Gandolfi, the Prize Director. “Their work is exemplifying how architecture should establish a dialogue with the community and the environment in order to built structures that respond to their changing needs.” The Curry Stone Design Prize, founded in 2008 to celebrate socially-engaged designers and inspire others to use design, selects winners by consulting social impact experts and humanitarian advocates. RUF will receive a cash prize to aid its mission and projects in China. RUF will participate in a panel at the Chicago Architectural Biennial, led by Prize Director Emiliano Gandolfi on Friday October 2, from 2:30-4pm CST, taking place at the Claudia Cassidy Theater inside the Cultural Center. A short film produced by the Curry Stone Foundation about RUF’s work will also be shown during the panel.