“We are only beginning to understand how profoundly the built environment impacts human and environmental health, economic prosperity and social justice”.
Understanding that premise and working to disrupt current conditions that perpetuate a built environment that undermines each of those elements was the focus of Design Access 2013, hosted by Public Architecture. During the Design Access Summit, hosted at the Headlands Art Center in early March, a diverse team of designers, NGO’s, philanthropist and corporate leaders spent 2 days identifying problems and designing solutions for positive impact. Topics ranging for integrating design thinking into the class room at an under performing Oakland California school to dealing with child sex slaves were tackled with multi-disciplined approaches.
I loved the Summit “to-do” list:
Food and Wine
Hiking, running and the coast
While certainly not all the ideas from the Summit will be implemented, the process exposed the attendees to the possibilities. One of the solutions is already underway (the Oakland Middle School project led by Sara To at Brute Labs) and the global connections made during the week will almost certainly lead to future work. Last year’s inaugural gathering generated six partnerships working to leverage design for positive social change.
Attendees of Public Architecture's Design Access 2013
From Public Architecture’s Facebook page you can learn more about Design Access.
Design Access, a summit held by Public Architecture this past March, brought together government, design, nonprofit, and funding professionals to better leverage the design of the built environment as a tool for social gain. Over three days, representatives from some of the largest and most influential design firms, nonprofits, and philanthropic organizations in the country and leaders in health care, education, affordable housing, transportation, community engagement, environmental sustainability, and the arts worked to collectively provide design services at scale to our most underserved and challenging problems.
This is the first installment of an on-going series about Design Access. Please stay tuned for more video presentations from the summit that will be featured on our blog.
Under the direction of Alex Briscoe, director of the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency (HCSA), and with support from the California HealthCare Foundation, Public Architecture is working on an inventive initiative that responds to a pressing need in Alameda County, California’s low-income communities for access to primary health care facilities.
Roman Mars is the host and producer of KALW’s 99% Invisible, a short radio show about design and architecture. The show has received numerous recognitions from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters and was named “Best of the Bay” by the San Francisco Bay Guardian. He has become one of the great storytellers about the power of design and is said to become a force in the design industry. This year, Mars presented a story at the Design Access Summit about the Plimsoll line and its affect on design. Tristan Cooke, a human factors engineer and curator of Humans in Design, claims this as one of his favorite examples of design because of the impact it made on the British shipping industry in the 19th century.
“This is one of my favorite examples of design because what I really like in the world is when you can find a massive problem that definitely needs solving and with some thought, you can solve it with something as simple as a circle with a line through it. I just find it amazing. That’s what I’d like to do with my career,” says Cooke.
The Plimsoll line is a painted circle with a horizontal line through it found on the outer hull of commercial ships. This line indicates the limit to which a ship can be loaded in specific water types and temperatures.
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