The Curry Stone Foundation has announced The Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centers (SPARC) as the winner of the 2016 Curry Stone Design Prize Vision Award. For over 30 years, SPARC has supported, represented and implemented improvements for Indian citizens living in slum communities throughout the country. Through its alliance with the National Slum Dwellers Federation (NSDF) and Mahila Milan (Women Together), SPARC is now active in over 70 cities throughout India, lobbying for physical, social and legal advancement, as well as facilitating the construction of housing for more than 8,500 families and community toilets for over 500,000 seats in slums with no existing facilities.
“SPARC with the National Slum Dwellers Federation and Mahila Milan are driving change by using the knowledge and capacity of the urban poor,” said Emiliano Gandolfi, the Director of the Curry Stone Design Prize. “With their work they designed the social framework that enables underrepresented populations to have a voice in the decision processes that determine their quality of life.”
SPARC was founded in 1984 by Sheela Patel, who advocates for a bottom-up approach to design: “You can’t just plunge into a sea of slums and produce a beautiful design. You have to be familiar, you have to enjoy, you have to understand, you have to be able to communicate, if you want to co-produce something.”
In addition to SPARC’s advocacy, they also run a non-profit construction company, SPARC Samudaya Nirman Sahayak (SSNS), which has already constructed 3,879 houses, renovated 3,900 units, built 878 community toilet facilities and granted 1,324 loans to residents.
The Curry Stone Design Prize was created in 2008 to “celebrate socially engaged practitioners and the influence and reach of design as a force for improving lives and strengthening communities.” Past winners include Rural Urban Framework, Studios Kabako and MASS Design Group. Visit the Foundation’s website for more on the recipients.