Six Public-Interest Design Projects Honored with 2015 SEED Awards

Six Public-Interest Design Projects Honored with 2015 SEED Awards

The 2015 winners of the annual Social Economic Environment Design (SEED) Awards for Excellence in Public Interest Design have been announced. The international competition celebrates designs which excel in these realms, and strive to create manageable sustainable impacts. The winning projects, selected by a jury, will receive $1000, as well as attendance to the annual Structures for Inclusion conference in Detroit, Michigan in April.

The six winning projects each encompass the ideals of community outreach, socio-economic improvement, and environmental awareness in the context of their unique locations. Though the designs are distinct, the values they embody are universal.

Read more about the winning designs after the break.

Six Public-Interest Design Projects Honored with 2015 SEED Awards - More Images+ 1

El Guadual Early Youth Development Center. Image Courtesy of Design Corps

El Guadual Early Youth Development Center / Villa Rica, Cauca, Columbia

This project consists of a collection of intertwining rooms with a cohesive educational program. Intended to establish a new norm for the citizens of Villa Rica, a historically tumultuous location, the center's design stimulates visitors both physically and mentally to inspire exploration and teach them to overcome obstacles. The development center was conceived to raise the next generation with a willingness to approach decisions with openness and strive for conflict resolution.

The Jury's Comments: "The design is beautiful - sturdy, while including elements that foster play and interaction. Beautiful classrooms with very good engagement of local constructors."

Lakota Nation Building at the Keya Wakpala Development. Image Courtesy of Design Corps

Lakota Nation Building at the Key Wakpala Development /  Mission, South Dakota, USA

Addressing the socio-economic hardships in one of the most impoverished counties in the United States, this project stems from the question, "Who is responsible for the way things are?" More importantly, it looks to the future, considering how to progress and adapt while maintaining the tribe's identity. The development will provide a number of key features in keeping with this mentality, including housing, educational spaces, infrastructure, and clean water, and will establish the basis for a successful economic status through job creation and new businesses.

The Jury's Comments: "This planning document is an incredible asset for the community, a clear and moving description of the community, their history and the challenges that they face. The project goals are completely aligned with SEED principles. The community surveys, meeting minutes, and other docs show an amazing amount of work. A profoundly moving statement here - 'Times have been hard, but our people still remain' – that also describes other under-resourced (and underestimated) people that can learn from this."

Parque Urbano e Instituto Sitie. Image Courtesy of Design Corps

Parque Urbano e Instituto Sitie [Urban Park and Institute Site] / Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil

Favela of Vidigal, Rio de Janeiro has become a dumping ground over the past decades, with nearly 20 tons of garbage contained within it. Supporting a significant population, the residents here have undertaken efforts to revitalize the land to foster a healthier, more stable environment. The park will work within these efforts, providing residents with cultural areas for recreation and leisure, as well as platforms to encourage public input and debates (deemed the "Digital Agora"),  bringing these individuals together as a community. 

The Jury's Comments: "This project works at scales of trash dump reclamation, control of landslides, community organization, and a found material system (tires) that can be replicated by others and has been shared with others in the region. The fact that the design team are deeply embedded in the community and investigating durable tools (like property rights, title, financing mechanisms) pushes this beyond just a nice community-built ecologically remediating park."

A jam manufactory for NAXII. Image Courtesy of Design Corps

A jam manufactory for NAXII / San Jeronimo Tecoatl, Oaxaca, Mexico

In a village with a family-like structure, a strong sense of community, and little economic stability, the NAXII cooperative was established as a tool for financial expansion and identity building for local women. The space provides the basis for the women to not only explore creative economic ideas to contribute to their community, but also to expand and share their skill-sets with others through collaborative workshops. Since its founding in 1999, NAXII has helped women become respected community members and bring new income to the village through managing a cybercafe and food conservation manufactory. 

The Jury's Comments: "A beautiful building and effective, respectful cross-continental collaboration between the women of NAXII and TU-Berlin to use a surplus local resource into an empowering economic product. Relationship between design students and local residents by having them hosted by families."

Studio H Collaborative. Image Courtesy of Design Corps

Studio H Collaborative Research Project / Berkeley, California, USA

This project provides students with a space for hands-on education with a focus on design-build practices. Founded in response to the standardized testing which defines today's educational institutions, Studio H gives students the opportunity to learn in a workshop setting through real-world practice, while giving back to the community through the projects they pursue.

The Jury's Comments: "Among the very good parts of the explanation is the attempt to reach, though a different approach, young people who have personal learning or disciplinary challenge who are allowed to and required to think differently and to re-engage academically through hands-on and community-focused architecture. Program appears to be effective means for the students to meet responsibilities and gain a sense of purpose."

Rwinkavu Operating Rooms and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (OR / NICU) / Kayonza District, Eastern Province, Rwanda

The people of the Kayonza District live under humble conditions and have some of the highest mortality rates for young children in the area, making this facility a paramount concern. The OR / NICU building employs vernacular methods, such as a natural cross-ventilation system, to overcome the region's extreme heat and provide patients with improved conditions. This new building was designed based on input from the staff of the old ward, as well as the Ministry of Health, providing improvements in every aspect of the structure for optimal results.

The Jury's Comments: "This is 'Capital A' Architecture that meets a critical public health need. It is a beautiful building involving training of local builders in extending traditional construction methods into new configurations and potentials. A good example of an office putting their full energies and assets into a project."

Honorable Mentions

  • Tagal Hut / Sabah, Malaysia
  • Project RE_ / Pennsylvania, USA
  • Atzompa pottery tradition: challenges and opportunity / Oaxaca, Mexico
  • Puriflume / Pennsylvania, USA
  • Walk [Your City] / North Carolina, USA

More information at

About this author
Cite: Holly Giermann. "Six Public-Interest Design Projects Honored with 2015 SEED Awards" 21 Jan 2015. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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