The Curry Stone Foundation has announced the winners of the 2012 Curry Stone Design Prize. In a departure from previous years, and in honor of the fifth anniversary of the Prize, five winners will share the award equally, each recognized with $25,000 for their work as social design pioneers. An awards ceremony will take place on November 15, 2012, at Harvard Graduate School of Design, followed the next day with a forum of presentations by the 2012 winners and panel discussions with a curated group of respondents. The awards ceremony and daylong forum are free and open to the public.
The Curry Stone Design Prize celebrates social design pioneers and the power of design as a critical force for improving lives and strengthening communities.
The Winners of the 2012 Curry Stone Design Prize are: MASS Design (Boston, MA), Riwaq (Ramallah, Palestine), Jeanne van Heeswijk (Rotterdam, Netherlands), Liter Of Light (Manila, Philippines), and Center for Urban Pedagogy, aka CUP (Brooklyn, New York).
Model of Architecture Serving Society—aka MASS Design—is a Boston-based architecture firm that has created an alternative practice designing healthcare facilities in resource-limited settings, primarily in developing countries emerging from crisis. MASS brings high-quality design and implementation to where it is most needed, and at the same time brings other disciplines into architectural work (its core team includes public health professionals with no background in design). MASS’s immersive process with their client identifies the broader needs of a community to ensure that the buildings aren’t just beautiful, healthy and functional, but that they also “amplify” the mission of the client (often an NGO) who has commissioned them.
Riwaq Centre for Architectural Conservation has spent more than two decades documenting Palestinian heritage and culture through holistic restoration of the built environment. Riwaq sees architectural restoration as a social and economic incubator; the projects it facilitates serve the public, create jobs, and strengthen community identity. Riwaq has done pioneering work in a region greatly affected and fragmented by conflict, completing complicated, multi-stakeholder projects on a large scale in the face of many logistical and sociopolitical challenges. For Riwaq, conservation and historic restoration are not about creating a museum piece—they are tools for social and economic advancement.
Jeanne van Heeswijk is an artist who facilitates the creation of lively and diversified public spaces, typically from disenfranchised or derelict sites. Her socially engaged practice generates new forms of encounter while challenging bureaucratic conventions and acquired rules. Van Heeswijk’s work presents a fresh understanding of the role of art in the design world—that art actively works in shaping society, and that the ultimate artistic production lies within the evolution of the people involved in the process.
Filipino entrepreneur and activist Illac Diaz created Liter of Light to provide residents of informal settlements in his country with a cheap daytime lighting source that can be produced and distributed locally. The solution is Diaz’s figurative “liter of light,” made simply from a clear plastic bottle that is filled with water and mounted in a metal tile. The tile is then easily installed in a typical metal roof. The inexpensive “bulb” disperses sunlight 360 degrees and lights up a room without need for kerosene or inventive wiring. Liter of Light is the first organization to widely distribute the solar bottle bulbs, and through a combination of social networking, open-source sharing, and hands-on building the organization has placed tens of thousands of these solar bottle bulbs in informal settlements worldwide.
The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) collaborates with students, policy experts and community advocates, and designers and artists to explain complex urban-planning processes and policy-making decisions through understandable visual communications and multimedia toolkits. Founded in 1997 by artist and designer Damon Rich and seven other cofounders and directed today by Christine Gaspar, CUP provides practical information to groups who need it most: immigrants, public-housing residents, and at-risk youth, to name a few.
"The mission of the Curry Stone Design Prize is a wide mission of social transformation," said Emiliano Gandolfi, Secretary of the Prize. "It's not about style anymore, it's about an approach. The Curry Stone Design Prize is one of the institutions that is enabling this transformation."
The Curry Stone Design Prize award ceremony and forum at the Harvard Graduate School of Design is a joint presentation of the Loeb Fellowship and the Department of Urban Planning and Design.
The awards ceremony on November 15th, at 6:30pm EST, will be live-streamed for global viewing. In addition to the cash award, each winner will be the subject of a short documentary video produced by the Curry Stone Design Prize Foundation. The videos will premiere at the awards ceremony and simultaneously posted online.
“The aim of the Prize is as much about sharing best practices of these emerging design disciplines as it is about the actual prize,” said Chee Pearlman, Curator of the award. “Each of these emerging practices is taking on critical challenges, and in the films we can share their stories.”
The 2012 Curry Stone Design Prize has partnered with Domus Magazine to further raise awareness of its winners. The Prize sponsored a special event hosted by Domus at the Venice Architecture Biennale in August 2012, and the short documentaries on each winner will be featured on the magazine’s new iPad App and on its website.