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Sustainability


Posts in category 'Sustainability'

1 December 2011

Another Life Is Possible – Homage to Catalonia II

Homage to Catalonia II
“Homage to Catalonia II” is a documentary, a research project, a story of stories about the construction of a sustainable, solidary and decentralized economy.

The video, which is a project of Joana Conill, Manuel Castells and Àlex Ruiz of IN 3, the High School Institute of Research of the University Open to Catalonia, investigates new economic cultures, new forms of living and of understanding the economy. For the .

In particular, it studies the social impact of the economics|economies that do not follow the patterns of the market, where profits are the priority, and that have the satisfaction of the needs and the desires for the persons as a goal.

The video is a tool for research, not a finished or closed work, and is available for free under a Creative Commons license. This is the English version, there are also versions in Catalan and Spanish.

Watch video (Youtube)
Watch video (blip.tv)

24 November 2011

How can we change consumer behaviour to benefit the environment?

Five levers to change
The concept of of social labelling could lead to a subconscious change in behaviour, Guy Champniss writes in The Guardian.

“By social labelling, we’re referring to the tag society gives a particular behaviour in order to make sense of it. In other words, society interprets the action and tags it with a motivation – for all to see – that it considers consistent with the behaviour. This means your individual behaviour can carry a social tag independently of the internal tag you may assign it. The big difference is that the social tag is visible to everyone.

Where this gets interesting is that these social tags can be applied to make sense of the behaviour, but they don’t need to reflect the original motivation. So choosing to take the train rather than the car could be driven at the individual level by a desire to be able to read and make phone calls on the way. But society can publicly tag this behaviour as being pro-environmental in motivation. And society can applaud that motivation.”

Read article

20 November 2011

Sketchnotes of Ezio Manzini at School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Ezio Manzini sketchnotes
This past Monday evening, on an unseasonably warm night in Chicago, sustainability expert Ezio Manzini gave a thought-provoking lecture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Mr Manzini is a Professor of Industrial Design at the Politecnico di Milano, and is a renowned expert in the application of strategic design for sustainability. His perspectives on systems and service design relate nicely to his core message of sustainability, yielding a compelling framework for a vision of the future city.

Craighton Berman, self-styled “resident sketchnote correspondent”, was there to cover his lecture in drawing-form.

Read article

10 November 2011

Transforming behaviour change

Transforming behaviour change
The RSA’s latest report, Transforming Behaviour Change: Beyond Nudge and Neuromania, argues for a more sophisticated understanding of the relationship between our social challenges, our behaviours and our brains.

Abstract

The Government is taking behavioural science very seriously, but existing nudge-based approaches to behaviour change tend to represent what Aditya Chakraborty called “Cute technocratic solutions to most minor problems”. The major adaptive challenges of our time, including debt, climate change, public health and mental health, require a deeper and more ambitious approach.

Transforming Behaviour Change argues for a more sophisticated understanding of the relationship between our social challenges, our behaviours and our brains, based on a considered response to two major cultural developments. The first is the growing ascendancy of neuroscientific interpretations of human behaviour, leading to fears of reductionism and pharmaceutical control. The second is behaviour change becoming an explicit goal of government policy, leading to fears of Government manipulation and coercion.

The report critically engages with these two developments, and proposes an alternative approach to behaviour change that builds on existing public and professional interest in brains and behaviour. We set out to shift attention away from the threatening idea of ‘science as authority’, justifying moral judgements, medical interventions and policy positions, and focus instead on the more productive notion of ‘science as provocation’, helping people foster the kinds of self-awareness and behaviour change they are seeking to develop.

28 October 2011

Design and the social sector: an annotated bibliography

Design and the social sector
This bibliography – now published on Change Observer – was initiatied in early 2011 as an independent study project by Courtney Drake, a graudate student at the Yale University School of Management.

It overlaps with William Drenttel’s work as a senior faculty fellow at Yale SOM, where Design and Social Innovation Case Studies are published.

Winterhouse Institute is adopting this bibliography as a larger project, and is publishing it as a collborative bibliography — working closely with the participants of the Winterhouse Education Symposia.

Executive Summary

Design thinking, user-centered design, service design, transformation design. These practices are not identical but their origin is similar: a definition of design that extends the profession beyond products. The rise of service economies in the developed world contributed to this movement toward design experiences, services, and interactions between users and products. The literature about design thinking and contemporary ideas reveals common elements and themes, many of which are borrowed from product design processes. They include abduction, empathy, interdisciplinary teams, co-creation, iteration through prototyping, preservation of complexity, and an evolving brief.

The implications of the rise of design thinking are twofold. First, corporate and organizational leaders concerned with innovative prowess are recognizing design thinking as a tool for developing new competitive advantages. Design thinking considers consumers’ latent desires and thus has the potential to change markets rather than simply making incremental improvements on the status quo. Second, many organizations have encountered significant barriers to practicing design thinking internally. In some ways, design thinking runs contra to the very structure of a corporation — it is intended to break paradigms, which may mean questioning power relationships, traditions, and incentive structure, and it may require a corporation to overhaul its business model and cannibalize its success. Additionally, many corporate leaders treat design thinking in a linear manner, a process which compromises the critical elements of conflict and circularity. In many instances, designers have failed to sufficiently translate and articulate their process, and businesses tend to favor past trends over the promise of new discovery.

With corporations struggling to use design thinking effectively, where does that leave the social sector? The organizational challenges facing corporations do not necessarily transfer to nonprofit organizations: more complex systems, higher stakes for failure, limited resources, and intangible evaluation metrics. Designers may be attracted to greater complexity and more wicked problems in the social sector, but they need to prepared to adapt their process and attitudes to create positive change. Perhaps the most significant adaptation designers need to make is in their role. Where product design connotes a sense of authorship, social design demands that designers be facilitators and educators of their processes. Further, they need to recognize they may not be well equipped to solve problems, but can identify problems and co-create with local leaders and beneficiaries.

The value of co-creation is a predominant theme in the literature surveyed here, particularly for Western designers contributing to foreign communities. Another critical factor is continual presence within projects, or better, a longer-term, sustained involvement. Authors speak of the importance of evaluation and metrics to gauge success, but find many projects lacking, perhaps for the same reasons the social sector as a whole struggles with impact measurement. Scaling, adaptation, and replication are buzzwords that pervade the social sector, but are particularly difficult for the product of a design process. Because the process is founded on a deep understanding of a particular user group’s needs, the solution for one community likely does not translate directly to another. However, authors suggest that it is the design process that is scalable and should be taught to local leaders. Failed projects support this assertion; benefits flow through the process of a project as well as the end-product, which further advocates for co-creation. Finally, the literature leave us with an unsettling question: is breakthrough innovation possible in the social sector? Most veterans in this field suggest the answer is no — they recommend that designers start small and introduce incremental change because the complexity of the systems and problems they face will demand it. However, this finding does not negate the potential value of the designer. The social sector needs designers to identify problems, imagine possibilities for a better future, and facilitate problem solving processes.

26 October 2011

Energy consumption in the home

Energy consumption in the home
The Danish Alexandra Institute (see also previous post) published in 2009 an anthropological user study of needs, motivations and barriers in relation to energy consumption in the home.

It was part of the MCHA project (Minimum Configuration – Home Automation) that focused on IT solutions that help to optimise and reduce energy consumption in homes.

“This guide is a presentation of the results of a qualitative user study of patterns in user needs, motivations and barriers in relation to energy consumption and willingness to change consumption behaviour. The objective is to develop an energy control unit for the home which will help users to understand and control their energy consumption and ultimately encourage them to change consumption habits.

The guide contains a presentation of the MchA project, a project funded by the Danish Enterprise and Construction Agency, and the user involvement methods applied during the project. A result of the user study is for example the definition of four ‘user profiles’ and 11 relevant themes that are interrelated. In this guide we have decided to refer to these themes as ‘user voices’ because they express the different motivations, needs and barries that are at play in a more or less conscious inner dialogue in the users before he or she takes action. These motivations and barriers open a window of opportunity for an energy control unit. At the back of each user voice card, you will find details and recommendations for an energy control unit.

The recommendations are not exhaustive, and the intention is that different readers should contribute additional opportunities, depending on the context in which the cards are used.

The guide can be read from one end to the other. It can also be used as an easy-to-read tool that provides an insight into relevant themes in the users’ consumption behaviours. The guide is meant as an inspiration on how to respond to several user voices and user profiles at the same time and thus reflect on how these different and often conflicting user voices influence consumption behaviours in the home.”

Download guide

26 October 2011

The Internet of Things comic book

IoT Comics
The Danish Alexandra Institute has just released a comic book called “Inspiring the Internet of Things,” which explains the benefits of networking everyday objects – as well as the ethical issues – through 15 illustrated scenarios. The PDF version is available for free download.

“We need a new medium to com- municate the idea of the Internet of Things, its challenges, its problems and its benefits; encouraging people to think about this new disruptive technology.

There are few things better than telling a story with pictures.

This “comic book” is aimed at everybody. Everybody can look at the stories that are being told and form an opinion. Use them as a basis for deep discus- sions or just as inspira- tion; agree or disagree and anything in between – but talk about it.”

(via ReadWriteWeb)

25 October 2011

Games, Life and Utopia conference

Gamification
Games, Life and Utopia is a half-day event in Pottsdam, Germany on 11 November, that is all about gamification, serious games, learning and play.

It’s a conference for service and interaction designers, for social activists, for artists, for developers and geeks, and of course for gamers.

“Gamification has garnered a lot of attention in recent years – both from academia and industry. At the event Games, Life and Utopia we will explore the potential and the boundaries of this emerging field. We will discuss the latest research results and discuss applications, not only in games, but also as tools for behavioral change. Our speakers offer a range of different perspectives on the topic – from hands-on experience with their own gamification products to a critical position based on psychological research. We will examine the operational mechanisms of games and their wondrous capabilities to produce experiences of hope, interest, enlightenment, and fascination.”

The key event organiser is Reto Wettach, a professor in physical interaction design at the University of Applied Sciences in Potsdam/Germany (and a former professor at Interaction Design Institute Ivrea).

20 October 2011

Philips launches ‘Microbial Home’ new forward looking design concepts

Microbial Home
Today Philips presented its latest forward looking design project ‘Microbial Home’, which includes a group of design concepts that represent an innovative and sustainable approach to energy, waste, lighting, food preservation, cleaning, grooming, and human waste management.

The Microbial Home project is a proposal for an integrated cyclical ecosystem where each function’s output is another’s input. In the project the home has been viewed as a biological machine to filter, process and recylcle what we conventionally think of as waste – sewage, effluent, garbage, waste water.

16 October 2011

Consumer futures 2020 scenarios

Consumer futures 2020
Sainsbury’s, Unilever and Forum for the Future have jointly produced Consumer Futures 2020 as a practical tool to help organisations throughout the global consumer goods industry to prepare for the future. The project explores how consumer expectations and behaviour will change, allowing these brands to use these new insights to take the lead in driving forward sustainable consumption.

Leading brands need to take the initiative and work together to stimulate consumer pull on sustainability and make ‘sustainable consumption’ mainstream.

Consumer Futures 2020 aims to help them do this. It is designed as a practical tool to help organisations throughout the global consumer goods industry plan for the future. It contains four different but entirely plausible scenarios which explore how patterns of consumption and consumer behaviour may have changed by 2020.

The scenarios are not intended to be predictions or visions of desired futures. They look at how global trends may change our world and the consumer goods industry, and how sustainable products, services and business models could become mainstream.

In order to create the scenarios the team took what it saw as the two least certain trends with the greatest impact on the future of the consumer goods industry:

  • Prosperous vs Less prosperous – by 2020 will our economy be flourishing or subdued?
  • Do-it-yourself vs Do-it-for-me – will consumers take the initiative to satisfy their needs or expect brands to do this for them?

They used these to create a two-by-two matrix, which in turn enabled them to create the four scenarios – ‘My way’, ‘Sell it to me’, ‘From Me to You’ and ‘I’m in your hands’ – exploring how these trends could play out.

Read more (check the download section on the left)

12 October 2011

Mr Cameron, it’s time to get the designers in

Sitra meeting
Ageing populations and budget cuts mean devising a new social contract. So why not use real designers – it’s worked in Finland, asks Justin McGuirk, design writer at The Guardian.

“If a country has the best education system in the world, it could be forgiven for resting on its laurels. Yet Finland, which routinely tops the Pisa education rankings, refuses to do so. The country has other major issues on the agenda, such as how to become carbon neutral and how to look after the most rapidly ageing population in Europe. And when the nation wants to address these questions, it turns to Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund. Most governments have a cluster of thinktanks and policy groups at their disposal to tackle their country’s challenges. But what’s different about Sitra is that it uses designers.”

Read article

(Disclosure: Experientia is consultant to Sitra.)

27 September 2011

Low2No Camp: entrepreneurial ideas to activate Low2No vision

Low2No
Article by Experientia® collaborator Irene Cassarino, with additional input from Jan-Christoph Zoels.

 

How do you create community services and business models for a carbon neutral building block before the buildings stand?

Thirty Finnish entrepreneurs came together last Tuesday (20 September 2011) in Helsinki to present innovative business and service models for a carbon neutral to negative building block in the Helsinki docklands Jätkäsaari.

Campers are urban enthusiasts that were challenged to develop entrepreneurial projects around sustainable living in a urban environment – with the ultimate aim of activating the Low2No vision beyond the perimeter of the 22.000 sqm of the Airut* block on Jätkäsaari.

The Low2No Camp was sponsored by Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund, and supported by Demos Helsinki and Experientia.

 


The Low2No block will be ready by Summer 2013. The foundations are not yet there, but excavators are already working to make the site ready. The first buildings of the Jätkäsaari neighbourhood are already under construction.

(Click images to enlarge)


On Tuesday afternoon, the Campers presented their concept ideas to an audience of stakeholders, experts and possible investors.

Indeed, while for us (the designers) the event had the bittersweet flavour of closure, for the Campers it was just the beginning of a possible entrepreneurial path. Their adventure started in June, when – along with the Demos Helsinki crew – they sustainably travelled (boat + train) to the Maker Lab in Berlin. Refreshed and excited through the intense and multicultural brainstorming sessions, they came back to Helsinki with five preliminary ideas to be grown into concept and eventually entrepreneurial proposals.

 

The Low2No Camp final showcase event took place at the Jätkäsaari information centre, where future developments of the site are depicted through information panels and interactive screens.

(Click image to enlarge)


When we met them after their Berlin campaign, the five teams of Campers were so excited about their oversea experience that helping them to boil down their ideas into viable concepts has been at the same time amazing and challenging.

Not all propositions survived the Summer break and – as always happens when voluntary effort and self motivation are the main drivers of action – the geometry of teams also changed. They all have another job after all, as the majority of budding entrepreneurs have, and some people’s availability decreased when the new season started.

 

Demos and Experientia® contributed to support Campers' concept development from idea generation to the 10 minutes pitch.

(Click image to enlarge)


The five ventures presented at the final events were – in brief:

1. 100 ways to Eden is a social enterprise that makes urban food production as integral part of our everyday life.

The carbon footprint of an industrialised food production is enormous, not to mention other negative impacts on nature, social environment and health.

The most effective way to improve the situation is to turn urban food consumers into urban food producers. This change will be possible through intensive research, education, development and networking. There is a greener and better future for all.

The first projects that will make the “shift to Eden” start to happen within next few years include:

  • Multiple “Laaritalkoot”: service of small scale planters, greenhuts, composters, aquaponics (see below) etc.
  • Experimental “Green lighthouse” serves as community and information hub.
  • Edenet: Web services for information, discussion, networking, support from the growing urban community of gardeners.

Team members: Pinja Sipari, Kirmo Kivelä, Kaisa Nirkkonen, Tomi Oravainen, Minna Ritoluoma

Minna Ritoluoma presenting 100 ways to Eden

(Click image to enlarge)


2. Aquaponics Finland designs and commercialises hydroponic irrigation and gardening systems. Aquaponics aims at replacing traditional issues surrounding access to food by essentially bringing scalable farming into the home, into the courtyard – including a warehouse scenario that in addition to supporting local food demands, handles logistics for local aquaponics users.

The project (slide presentation) will enable a considerable decrease in carbon impact due to reduced transportation, processing of food & logistics, with the added benefit of having fresh organic food grown within the fiber of the community.

Team members: Antti Kirjalainen, Peter Kuria

 

3. Pukuhuone.fi – ”Dressing Room” is an ecological style guide which believes in style before fashion, sharing before ownership and storytelling before ignorance.

It brings together local designers and artisans, vintage shops, flea markets, tailors and shoemakers, laundries and repair services to create a platform which leads the consumer to dress up with a bit more love and care.

On a larger scale pukuhuone.fi aims to slow down fashion, speed up sharing and make old (recycled, shared, something with a story) more valuable than new (anonymous, with no personality, silent).

Pukuhuone.fi fights against faceless mass production, poor quality materials, information overload and fast fashion which creates needs people don’t really have. Style will save us but we need good storytellers to make that happen.

Team members: Hanna Linkola, Outi Ugas, Anniina Nurmi, Minna Ainoa, Laura Puromies, Outi Pyy, Arto Sivonen

 

4. School of Activism is a world-traveling series of urban activist workshops and festivals: a platform for those who shape our urban future.

Two groups of 30 selected participants – activists, producers, innovators, artists, and allround urban mavericks from all around the globe – come together in a new city each year for two weeks worth of creative sessions, lectures by urban luminaries, and unforgettable urban interventions.

The School organises workshops both from pioneering mavericks of old and trailblazing innovators of the present, followed by sessions that put that breadth of knowledge and inspiration into practice to solve urban problems.

School of activisms offers the chance to solve actual problems in some of the host city’s suburbs: with plenty of time to chat on cool new ideas, get to know each other, get a glimpse into local happenings and places, and ask the questions people were always keen on asking.

Team members: Heta Kuchka, Arto Sivonen and Olli Sirén

Heta Kuchka presenting School of Activism
(Click image to enlarge)


5. Ab Hukkatila Oy – Ab Waste Ltd does toward space what internet did toward information.

Hukkatila is an development company with an eye on urban places that are empty, underused, or shunned but do have potential because of their location, demand for certain functions in the area, their unique design, unintentional and unseen attractiveness and functions. Development strategies focus are temporary usage, mixed use or ‘life after urban death’ scenarios.

The goal is to create more enjoyable urban environment, regenerate the local communities, promote mixed use of places and develop replicable concepts of synergistic space and property sharing.

Hukkatila exploits sophisticated place-bound architecture, integrated with urban food and energy saving ecosystems, open source apps for built environment, in order to make unlikely processes and collaborations happen.

Team members: Eve Astala, Virkkala Inari, Inari Penttilä, Jaakko Lehtonen, Lari Lohikoski

 

Camper Eero Yli-Vakkuri also took the chance to present No Chair Design Challenge, the provoking challenge to worldwide designers not to design any chairs for all 2012.

Are you a designer? Then look at the tutorial (video).

During their presentations Campers collected plenty of audience feedback. Next steps include a colloquium with an experienced VC and business mentor from Sitra to advice teams business and managerial approach.

Good luck to all from Experientia!

 

* The Airut Block

The block which is the result of the Low2No project will be called Airut.

Airut signifies a “forerunner” and “messenger” in Finnish, thus it is conceptually easy to link to the idea and spirit of Low2No. The block aims to be a forerunner in sustainable building and construction, as well as to spread and promote the ideas of the Low2No model of sustainable urban living.

Airut is an old Finnish word which has Germanic roots. It has been used in spoken language for about 1000 years, and was introduced in written language for the first time in 1745.

It is not commonly used in Finnish spoken language today, thus it has a fresh sound to it. Also, it can rarely be found in brand or company names.

 

Links:
Low2No website
Low2No Camp
Profiles of Campers
Low2No campers facebook page
Demos Finland website

27 September 2011

From mass consumerism to mass change: Hope for sustainable consumption

buy or rent
In an article for Shareable, Caren Holzman presents trends that signal “a reversal in the way that consumers value and use products and services”:

“A global culture of consumerism has firmly taken hold – the average British woman buys half her body weight in clothing every year; a typical American purchases more stuff every day than an average American weighs; more than 30 million tons of food was dumped in landfills in the US in 2009; and the largest shopping centre in Europe has just opened as the gateway to the London 2012 Olympics. Yet as resources become more constrained, economies stall and businesses begin to think more innovatively about different ways of delivering value to the customer, there are some signals of hope for a reversal in the way that consumers value and use products and services.”

Read article

27 September 2011

The end of motoring

Motoring
Highly recommended read in The Guardian on the end of the golden age of motoring (or for non-Brits: car travel):

“The most radical change [according to German entrepreneur Stefan Liske] is that “in big societies, there is a huge status shift happening, where we are losing the idea that you use a car to define your status. So the industry needs more flexible leasing, financing and car-sharing models. And second, they have to find new revenue streams.

The near future that Liske describes echoes the computer industry’s earlier shift from a business model based on hardware to one based on software. “Audi and Toyota have just invested $1bn in wind energy. If you’re leasing a car from them, they can sell you the energy – or they go in a different direction like BMW, who just invested $100m in start-up companies offering transport-related mobile services.”

Underpinning all these innovations and ideas is what Liske sees as a major behavioural shift among the generation of “digital natives”. “They don’t care about owning things. Possession is a burden, and a car is a big investment for most people – not just the vehicle, but the permits, the parking space.”

Read article

21 September 2011

Green markets must be created by you

Peloton
Tuuli Kaskinen and Roope Mokka, researchers at Demos Helsinki, argue in an essay that we need more than mere sustainable versions of everyday products: we need new products and services based on behaviour change.

“Most companies are dismally bad at creating successful sustainable consumption. Today’s eco-attempts remain above all clumsy and expensive eco-versions of mainstream products. However real success lies in changing consumer behavior and creating new markets by designing unique products and services. Just like McDonald’s did with restaurants, Apple did with mobile computing, Yellow Tail with wine and Airbnb with hotels. Finding gatekeepers is key to creating new markets by behaviour change.”

Read article

Demos is a think tank aimed at developing democracy to suit the needs and capabilities of the people of the 21st century.

The essay was published on the newly relaunched Low2No website, which provides background and thinking related to the “low to no carbon” city block in Helsinki that ARUP engineering, Sauerbruch-Hutton architects and Experientia are developing for Sitra. The latest post is on the recent Italian award that was given to Experientia for its work on the project.

17 September 2011

Low2No project wins Holcim acknowledgement prize

Holcim
Medium rise timber office building in low-to-no carbon emissions district, Helsinki, Finland, wins Holcim acknowledgement award for sustainable construction.

The Low2No design team led by Sauerbruch-Hutton, Arup and Experientia® were recognized for the multi-story timber construction headquarter for Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund.

The office and incubator building “is part of an inner-city building complex that augments the urban redevelopment of the former Jätkäsaari docklands in Helsinki. The aim for the entire building complex is to establish a “sustainable living” and “low-to-no carbon emission” performance through participatory planning and design methods.

The SITRA Headquarters at Low2No combines a variety of technical features that enhance user awareness and reduces weighted energy use to 45kWh/sq m per year, less than half the average Finnish requirement for heating and cooling. Civic amenities, including an auditorium, library and café, create a welcoming atmosphere for the public.”

Comment of the Holcim Awards jury Europe:
In terms of its construction and program, the office building is commended by the jury for achieving the aspired principles of transferability, transparency and inventiveness. All of the construction, even the cores and the prefab façade panels will be entirely in Finnish timber – globally an innovation for a 26m high 6-storey office building. Beyond these measures, the project has a successful holistic approach towards its design, connecting social, ecological, aesthetic and economical demands on a high level and it is thus an outstanding example of how sustainable architecture can be achieved on a larger scale.

 
The three winning projects in the European region stand out through a high degree of visionary place making and provoke our rethinking of the public spaces and existing buildings.

Gold prize went to Realities United from Berlin, Germany for an urban Flussbad on the Museumsinsel in the centre of Berlin.
“The Flussbad urban plan will remediate an area rich in cultural heritage by transforming an under-utilized arm of the River Spree into a natural 745m-long “swimming pool”. The project will form a swimming zone equivalent to 17 Olympic-sized pools – and directly improve the quality of urban life and the ecology of the waterway.” A 1.8ha reed bed water filtration system with sub-surface sand bed filters located before the swimming area purifies the river water. The beauty of this project lies not only in the reuse of public waterways for relaxation but also adding a sense of social placemaking into a historic and status laden city center.

Holcim Awards Silver went to a project that converts a former factory into a new City Hall and Civic Center for the city of Oostkamp in Belgium by not only recycling the main structure and materials but also re-using the space itself and its technical infrastructure. Holcim Awards Bronze was presented to a smart transformation plan for a viaduct on a bypassed section of an expressway into vertical homes, using an existing structure for a completely different use that brings new economic potency to Southern Italy.

The Holcim Awards Bronze was awarded to a collaborative project by Philippe Rizzotti Architects, Samuel Nageotte Architecture and Off Architecture, all based in France, which plans the conversion of one of the viaducts on a recently bypassed section of an expressway into vertical homes.

Four Acknowledgement prizes were given to highly innovative, but more pragmatic build solutions and material research. [Aside from the Low2No project (see above),] they “were allocated […] to German firms Barkow Leibinger Architects, Schlaich Bergermann und Partner, and TRANSSOLAR Energietechnik for their collaboration on low-cost apartments in Hamburg that use innovative techniques and materials including pre-fabricated lightweight-concrete elements with recycled foamed glass as an internal aggregate.

Acknowledgement prizes also went to Dutch architectural offices De Stuurlui Stedenbouw, and Atelier Gras for their cottage garden structure that creates green recreation spaces in dense urban areas, and to a production technology project for fabricating non-repetitive free-form cast-on-site concrete structures using re-usable and digitally-produced wax formwork by Gramazio & Kohler, Architecktur und Digitale Fabrikation – ETH Zurich in Switzerland.”

24 August 2011

Interview on Experientia’s strategy on sustainable living in Helsinki

e-Periscope
This month’s e-Periscope review has a brief interview with Experientia® partner Mark Vanderbeeken, talking about Experientia’s strategy on sustainable living in Helsinki and how its work on the Low2No project won the Italian National Prize for Service Innovation.

e-Periscope is the online economic review of the Italian Piedmont Region, and has featured Mark before, as one of the first businessmen they interviewed, back in 2008.

The quarterly regional bulletin of economic news about Italy and its regions examines international, Italian and regional economic data and statistics, accompanied by a regional marketing section with news for business.

Read article

7 August 2011

Designing for a workforce that acts more sustainably

Gerd Waloszek
In a six part article series Gerd Waloszek of SAP User Experience [who is very inspired by Nathan Shedroff’s latest book ‘Design is the Problem’] approaches the topic of the sustainable behavior of a workforce from a designer’s point of view.

Part 1: Action fields for designers
In its efforts to make the behavior of its workforce more sustainable, SAP addresses the following focus topics (which are action fields for designers): (1) commute and travel, (2) energy, resource, and waste management (including paper management), and (3) organization of distributed teams (including social aspects).

Part 2: Action items for designers
Based on the three fields defined in the first article, Waloszek identifies possible action items for designers – particularly user interface (UI), user experience (UX), and interaction (IxD) designers: (1) the design of information and communications technology (ICT) solutions for remote collaboration, and (2) persuasive design or technology. He then steps back to identify the sustainability aspects, as defined by Nathan Shedroff (2009), in which designers can have an impact. Combining action fields with sustainability aspects, he collects four possible action items.

Part 3: Designing for remote collaboration and communication
Waloszek now discusses the first action item in more detail: ‘designing for remote collaboration and communication’.

Part 4: Using ambient media to support awareness of remote colleagues
In this article, Waloszek looks at the second of the four action items: “using ambient displays for supporting the awareness of remote colleagues” – which he interprets more broadly than just visual information. The article therefore refers to ambient media rather than ambient displays.
> Examples and proposals (in progress)

Part 5: Using persuasive design/technology
In this fifth article in the series, Waloszek looks at the “using persuasive design/technology” action item – which is the third of four action items he identified for designers. We will see that, on the one hand, this item competes with other approaches aiming at improving sustainability, and on the other hand, that it can also complement these approaches.

Part 6: Replacing physical objects with virtual (digital) ones
In preparation – To be published in August 2011.

3 August 2011

Ezio Manzini on the economics of design for social innovation

Ezio Manzini
Sarah Brooks of Shareable has just published the second part of her interview with the Italian design strategist Ezio Manzini, who is one of the world’s leading experts on sustainable design, author of numerous design books, professor of Industrial Design at Milan Polytechnic, and founder of the DESIS (Design for Social Innovation towards Sustainability) network of university-based design labs.

Manzini speaks particularly about a community-supported agriculture project in Milan, that I like very much:

“At present, the most relevant project we have in this field is Nutrire Milano (Feeding Milan). It is an initiative promoted and developed in Milano by Slow Food, Politecnico di Milano, Facoltà di Scienze Gastronomiche and several other local partners. This project aims at regenerating the Milanese peri-urban agriculture (that is the agriculture near the city) and, at the same time, at offering organic and local food opportunities to the citizens. To do that implies to promote radically new relationships between the countryside and the city. That is, to create brand-new networks of farmers and citizens based on direct relationships and mutual support.

The project’s first step had been recognizing the existing (social, cultural and economic) resources and best practices. Moving from here, a strategy has been developed considering the emerging trends towards a new possible synergy between cities and their countryside (as the ones towards zero-mile food and proximity tourism). On this basis, a shared and socially recognized vision has been built: the vision of a rural-urban area where agriculture flourishes, feeding the city and, at the same time, offering citizens opportunities for a multiplicity of farming and nature related activities.

To enhance this vision, the program is articulated in local projects (which are several self-standing projects, each on of them supporting, in different ways, a farmer’s activity) and framework actions (including context analysis, scenario co-creation and communication, promotion and coordination of the different individual local projects).

It is remarkable that, in a large project like this (a five-year project involving a very wide regional area), thanks to its adaptability and scalability, a first concrete result (a very successful Farmers’ Market) has been obtained in less than one year since starting-up, that two other initiatives will be realized in the next years and that several others are underway and will be implemented in the near future (keeping in account the very concrete experiences of the first three ones).”

Read full interview

28 July 2011

Are we becoming too analytical?

Network data
Or, why did Google PowerMeter fail?

In his latest post, James Landay questions whether over-analysis of data gets in the way of designing a product that truly understands the needs of its users. He provides several examples of when the data needs trumped design and user needs, which then results in “Product Failure Due to Over Reliance on Self Data Analysis”.

“The biggest reason I believe these two products [Google PowerMeter and Google Health] have not taken off is their reliance on the belief that simply giving people their data and letting them analyze it is the way to improve behavior (both for health and for the environment). The user interfaces for both products have an analytical take on information design — for instance they focus on showing people graphs of their data […]

As I spoke with members of the Google team, I was surprised at the lack of knowledge of behavior change theories from psychology as well as much of the user interface design work that had been done by researchers in this space over the past ten years.”

A post worth reading also for those interested in the topic of smart metering and behavioural change.

Read article

(via Tricia Wang)