In honour of its 10th anniversary, the Curry Stone Design Prize will recognize a large group of the world’s most socially conscious and active design practices, in what the Foundation has coined as the Social Design Circle.
Over the course of the year, 100 firms will be added to the Circle for their sustainable, socially inclusive and impactful design work, under twelve specific themes. Each month, select firms’ work will be highlighted individually on the Prize’s website, while also featuring on the Curry Stone Foundation’s new podcast, Social Design Insights.
The following seven practices were selected for the month of February, in response to the theme “Is The Right to Housing Real?”:
Established in 1988 in response to evictions prior to the Summer Olympics in South Korea, the Asian Coalition is a group of NGOs, architects, and engineers striving for decent housing for impoverished communities. Viewing housing as a fundamental human necessity, the coalition has worked across 215 cities in Asia to tackle problems faced by communities of all scales, in the face of rapid urbanization. Recent projects include the Asian Coalition for Community Action Program (ACCA), which aids the poor in the management of their own developments, thereby acknowledging design and planning skills possessed by local impoverished communities.
San Francisco-based firm David Baker Architects specializes in adaptive reuse, affordable housing, and green building. Since 1982, the firm has designed over 10,000 living units, which includes 6,000 affordable units in the San Francisco Bay Area, receiving considerable recognition in over 250 awards. DBA’s philosophy preaches a transparent approach to social housing, with the intention of uniting all members of the community and its corresponding socio-economic spectrum, as opposed to creating stigmas and barriers through perceived threats that are often associated with supportive housing.
Formerly known as Common Ground, Breaking Ground has become the United States’ largest provider of supportive housing, offering a variety of amenities in addition to shelter, including job training, drug and alcohol counseling, and social support. The organization aims to address the issue of recidivism, in which families are often evicted from shelters as soon as possible. Since its inception, Breaking Ground has recognized the multi-faceted nature of homelessness and has thus achieved much success in providing stability through permanent homes for families.
New York-based firm Jonathan Kirschenfeld Architects PC specializes in environmentally and socially sustainable urban projects, many of which have been realized as a combination of supportive housing and social services to combat chronic homelessness in New York. The firm specifically focuses on repurposing underutilized plots of civic land dedicated towards private development, in order to revitalize neighborhoods. Kirschenfeld is also the founder of the Institute for Public Architecture, a non-profit organization advocating for socially responsible architecture through research.
Well-known for its refurbishment of post-war housing developments, Lacaton & Vassal began its practice with the publication of PLUS: Large Scale Housing – An Exceptional Case, a manifesto opposing the French government’s intended demolition of social housing blocks. Since then, the Paris-based firm founded by Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal has promoted the advantages of repurposing, rather than demolishing architecture, as a sustainable and ecological alternative to new construction. Their work continues to oppose fervent gentrification of the city and includes the restoration of modernist housing complexes in Paris, Saint-Nazaire, and Bordeaux.
Formed as a result of various housing crises affecting Zurich in the 80s and 90s that led to forced evictions of citizens, Kraftwerk1 is a logical derivation of the utopian “bolo’bolo” or “tribe”. Organization is a key element in the design collective’s work, which often gains access to land in unwanted areas of the city after brokering deals with owners looking to be rid of the vacant plots. Though Kraftwerk1 projects have been designed by different architects, they all offer tenants various shared amenities, such as kindergartens, restaurants, and shops.
L’Office de l’Éclectisme Urbain et Fonctionnel is a design practice widely known for its achievements in sustainable architecture and urban renovation while adopting a philosophy focussing on a balance of affordability, ecological efficiency, and architectural detail. L’Oeuf’s work investigates the relationship between user occupation of a building and the surrounding environment, at a variety of scales. Recent projects include the firm’s successful endeavors at the Benny Farm site in Notre-Dame de Grace, which is the world’s first government-subsidized, community renewal project for green affordable housing, the efforts documented in a recently published book Community-Inspired Housing in Canada.
Each firm will feature in February episodes of Social Design Insights, hosted by Prize Director Emiliano Gandolfi, and author, architect and post-disaster specialist, Eric Cesal. The following twelve topics will be discussed on the podcast, over the course of the year:
- January: Should Designers be Outlaws?
- February: Is The Right To Housing Real?
- March: Can Design Challenge Inequality?
- April: Can Design Prevent Disaster?
- May: Can We Design Community Engagement?
- June: Can Design Reclaim Public Space?
- July: Can We Design a Slum Friendly City?
- August: How Do We Design With Scarcity?
- September: What Can Design Do To Promote Peace?
- October: Can a City Work As An Ecosystem?
- November: Does Design Create Politics or Vice Versa?
- December: How Do We Democratize Design?
More information about the prize and this month’s recipients can be found on the Curry Stone Design Prize website.