Design Open Mic: Students Rebuild and Other Thrilling Collabs

Design Open Mic: Students Rebuild and Other Thrilling Collabs

  • by Architecture for Humanity
  • Nov 15, 2011
  • comments

Zac Taylor and Ken Smith sit on opposite ends of the office, yet both are working away at their desktop collaboratories so prolifically that we (the rest of the office & guests) were surprised to not see liquid nitrogen billowing from their keyboards.

Zac opened the discussion by bringing us up to speed on Students Rebuild. In the year and a half the program's been running it's engaged thousands of participating students in interactive educational curricula, and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds towards schools in Haiti and Japan reconstruction. The next challenge: humanitarian crises in the DR Congo and Somalia. Tackling the the difficult and most under-noticed issues today, Students Rebuild is challenging its youth network to learn about and act against the ongoing dire issues affecting these two countries through A Path Forward.

Zac has recently gathered members of Architecture for Humanity to create hand-made bones for the Congo-focused One Million Bones challenge and this week will be flooding the Twitterverse with info on Somalia for Somalia Awawreness Week. Follow Zac's Somali dialogue, as well as other Japan and Haiti updates @studentsrebuild, or join the Students Rebuild Facebook page.

Meanwhile Ken Smith has been working on so many Architecture for Humanity side projects I hardly know where to begin. Fortunately he shared with me (and you) his slide show to walk us through them.

Let's start with Iran. Ken is working with Iranian professor and Design Like You Give a Damn 2 contributor Pouya Khazeli to launch a chapter in Tehran...and navigate all the potential obstacles along the way. Pouya has been working from San Francisco during this process and building his California network while he's here.

Ken is also working with a couple volunteers on a comprehensive water filtration resource profiling dozens of inexpensive filtration techniques that can be and are being applied around the world. A lot of these processes are very cheap means of taking bacteria and viruses out of available water that for some reason or another haven't been made widely available online. When finished the resources will be posted on the Open Architecture Network; details to follow.

Ken also went though a couple other exciting opportunities. With Program Manager T Luke Young, Ken is teaching a course at UC Berekley discussing "Dance for Social Change," tapping a former Ukrainian submarine base and jazzing it up as a dance studio community outreach platform. Even though the semester ends soon, there's discussion of carrying the project forward in successive design classes with more details from the site.

Now to Nepal, where Ken's been assisting the Austin Chapter's work with Edge of Seven to improve five villages there–providing sanitation, new toilets, schools and a biogas system for cooking and heating.

Relatively new to the landscape architecture field, Ken is also exploring ways to introduce more extensive site work to a couple developing Architecture for Humanity projects, and we're all looking forward to where those lead!

Thanks guys for sharing!

Students Rebuild: a Re-Introduction (pdf)
Ken's presentation (pdf)

Images: water purifier by Flickr user Times Up Linz; crane composite by Zac Taylor, Crane Poster by Vik Muniz...looking for a unique Christmas gift?