The final theme focuses on projects that put people and communities at the heart of design thinking. Ensuring fair and equal participation in regenerative change is critical to lasting impact. Catalysing Community explores how designers can galvanise action and celebrate commonalities by using shared stories to connect people to each other and to their ecosystems. Examples here show how design can encourage communities to revive and regenerate their own environment through careful stewardship and group enterprise, improving quality of life and generating new livelihoods.
Featured in this section
AA summer school
Fogo Island and Shorefast
Great Green Wall
Nina Mršnik and Lucia Massari
Social Design Collaborative
Xu Tiantian and DnA_Bejing
Shneel Malik, Dr. Brenda Parker and Prof. Marcos Cruz, (Bio-ID Lab, UCL)
Small-scale artisans in India face a challenge in how to manage wastewater treatment with limited resources. Indus is a modular wall system constructed from ceramic tiles that purify water through bioremediation. Inspired by the architecture of a leaf, the tiles’ vein-like channels hold a seaweed-based hydrogel containing microalgae that can extract heavy metals like cadmium from wastewater.
Image courtesy of Dr. Shneel Malik and Martyna Marciniak
Isla Urbana is a rainwater harvesting project for Mexico where millions of people lack secure access to water, although rain is plentiful. A rainwater harvesting system can provide a family with a sustainable source of water while preventing flooding and reducing the pressure on overexploited aquifers.
Phase 1: 2016–18, Phase 2: 2018–2019
Social Design Collaborative
This modular design for a low-cost school can be built in a few days and dismantled in a few hours. It was conceived as a solution for Delhi farming communities that face a constant threat of eviction because they do not have formal land tenure.
Regeneration with Agaves
Fernando Laposse has revived the indigenous tradition of terracing with agaves to restore degraded ecosystems, help replenish groundwater and support local communities in Tonahuixtla, Mexico. Agave leaves produce the pale sisal fibre which Laposse uses to make his design works.
Film still from Regeneration with Agaves by Fernando Laposse, 2021
‘The environmental crisis we are living in is not only about waste or overconsumption, it is also a humanitarian crisis of inequality. We need holistic design solutions that address the economic, ecological and social challenges that we face in today's globalised world.’
— Fernando Laposse
Pomelaj is a collective in the northeast of Slovenia that employs disabled people to learn, preserve and pass on the traditional craft of weaving with corn husks and willow. The weavers work with flint maize husks, a type of corn indigenous to the Prekmurje region.
Shorefast and Fogo Island
The Economic Nutrition concept is based on the food nutrition label system, adapted to give the buyer of goods or services a breakdown of where their money goes and who benefits from it.The system was invented to promote sustainable tourism on Fogo Island in Newfoundland, Canada.
AA nanotourism Visiting School – Urban Spa: The Lost and Found Healing Sulphur Springs of Meidling
Maria Covrig, Alex Gahr, Daniel Koller, Zorana Sotirov
Mentors: Aljoša Dekleva (Programme Head), Aline Lara Rezende, Amanda Sperger and Jakob Travnik
The AA nanotourism Visiting School came out of BIO25 in 2014. It proposes an alternative, socially responsible model to top-down tourism through experiential interventions in the urban environment. AA nanotourism’s Urban Spa project proposes to re-introduce small-scale public bathing in the natural sulphurous spring water in Theresienbad, Vienna.
Tofu Factory in Caizhai Village, Songyang County, China
Xu Tiantian and DnA_Beijing
The Tofu Factory is a vernacular wooden building that houses the community’s traditional tofu-making workshops, preserving this intangible cultural heritage. Songyang is a formerly declining rural region which Xu is working to regenerate through a series of carefully selected, focussed interventions which described as ‘Architectural Acupuncture’.
Photo by Wang Ziling
Introduction – Forgotten Vernaculars
An assemblage of objects and ideas from different eras and culture that underpin the Super Vernaculars movement.
Designs that subvert, reimagine and adapt traditional ideas and deep-rooted practices to address contemporary needs and challenges.
Reimagining Systems and Infrastructures
Approaches foregrounding regenerative systems and enabling ways of living that establish a reciprocal relationship with the environment.