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Entries to the 2009 Buckminster Fuller Challenge Published
Posted: Thursday, April 23, 2009 |

Wondering where breakthrough ideas addressing today’s major crises are? Look no further, the entries to the 2009 Buckminster Fuller Challenge are now available for view in the Idea Index, an open-source database of solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.

The entries listed in the Idea Index range from a radical solution to human transportation in the world’s largest cities to a strategy to dramatically increase crop yields and economic development in remote African villages. While the entries cover a broad range of topics, the common thread among them is a highly integrated approach to design - one that is simultaneously comprehensive, anticipatory and aligned with nature’s fundamental principles. This focus on an integrated design strategy is what distinguishes the Challenge and the innovators who have submitted their work from other prize programs.


Just one of the 33 finalists of the 2009 Buckminster Fuller Challenge: “The Bamboo Institute” by Ignacio Platas. In this picture: Completed construction of large scale Icon Framing System™ (designed by Ignacio Platas).

These new additions to the Idea Index represent a growing pool of knowledge about how to tackle some of the most inexorable problems facing our global society - ready to be picked up and put into action by investors, philanthropists, designers, artists, policymakers, and anyone who wants to change the world.

The Idea Index is not just a static database of projects, it is an interactive hub for discussion and debate. The tools provided by the Idea Index allow users to comment on entries, contact the submitters, and engage in dialogue with the Buckminster Fuller Challenge community.

“The visionary solutions contained in the Idea Index are an demonstration of the intuition shared by many people that the solutions to our most pressing problems are ‘out there’ - designed by inspired and highly motivated individuals all over the planet. These are people who are not waiting for the mainstream institutions of the world to solve out problems for us! My best antidote to reading the morning’s crisis-laden headlines is to log-in to the Idea Index!” said Elizabeth Thompson, Executive Director of The Buckminster Fuller Institute.

The winner of the 2009 Buckminster Fuller Challenge will be selected by a distinguished jury and announced to the public on May 4th. The $100,000 prize will be awarded on June 6th at a conferring ceremony at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago followed by a panel discussion with our jurors, moderated by Susan Szenasy, Editor in Chief of Metropolis magazine and a celebration and reception featuring design innovator Bruce Mau. In addition to the conferring ceremony and reception, join us on June 5th for a presentation by Fuller’s architecture partner, Thomas Zung at the AIA Chicago and on the morning of June 7th to see a demonstration of Fuller’s unique Rowing Needle and a race of this super-lightweight watercraft on the Chicago River, organized by Carl Solway Gallery and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. For more information about these events and to RSVP, visit www.BFI.org.

The Buckminster Fuller Challenge, a program of the Buckminster Fuller Institute, is an annual international design competition awarding a $100,000 prize to support the development and implementation of a solution that has significant potential to solve humanity’s most pressing problems.

Here are the 33 finalists of the 2009 Buckminster Fuller Challenge (more info on each project at BFI’s Idea Index):

YourOwnDemocracy.org, submitted by Gong Szeto


YourOwnDemocracy.org: My View

Beyond the Petroleum Era: A Proto-Cooperative Means for Re-mineralizing Coastal Regions, submitted by Pliny Fisk III, Co-Director, CMPBS

Sustainable Unit - An anticipatory approach to ecological livingry in the 21st century, submitted by Joao Amorim, PostModern Times

(C)urban Ecology: Micro-remediation and The City Street of The Future, submitted by Commonstudio

A Proposal for Bamboo Resource Systems for Social, Economic and Environmental Benefits in the Pacific Northwest USA, submitted by Jonathan Scherch, Ph.D

AIDSfreeAFRICA drug production in Africa, submitted by Dr. Rolande Hodel, AIDSfreeAFRICA


AIDSfreeAFRICA drug production in Africa: Production at the Cameroonian Baptist Convention: technicians mix up a few ointments.

Architecture Beyond CAD, submitted by Martin Ravnikar, Architect

Architecture Beyond CAD: Causal derivation and discrete building blocks

BerkShares local currency, submitted by Susan Witt, Executive Director, E.F. Schumacher Society

BK Farmyards, submitted by Stacey Murphy, Landmines Productions

Carnot-Equivalent Stirling Engine and Heat Pump, submitted by Berkana Technology Group (Berkana LLC)

Civic Ads: Public Smart, submitted by Nathalie Rozot, Photic

Climate Solutions Project, submitted by Tom Bowman, Principal, Climate Solutions Project, LLC

Cycle for Health, submitted by Joseph Agoada, Two Wheeled Foundation

DISCOVER Carbon Net, submitted by Hosung Chun, LEED AP


DISCOVER Carbon Net: City Model Application

Dreaming New Mexico, submitted by Kenny Ausubel, Co-Founder, Bioneers

Ecocity Mapping For Urban Villages, submitted by Richard Register, President, Ecocity Builders

Green Flight World Link Initiative, submitted by Mike T. Voorhees, CEO, Skylite Aeronautics

Growing Functional Materials for a Sustainable Tomorrow, submitted by Eben Bayer, CEO, Ecovative Design, LLC


Growing Functional Materials for a Sustainable Tomorrow: Up Cycling Regional Wastes into a Sustainable, High-performance Material

KickStart International - The Tools to Fight Poverty, submitted by Martin J. Fisher, Ph.D, Co-Founder and CEO, KickStart Intl.

Machineless construction strategy based on least physical strain to build cyclone resistant women’s centres in Bangladesh, submitted by Bonnie L Y Chu


Machineless construction strategy based on least physical strain to build cyclone resistant women’s centres in Bangladesh: The proposed strategy is based on a construction method that is low tech and modular based to allow for flexible application.

Macrofacturing: Maximizing resources through distributed rapid manufacturing technologies, submitted by Jordan Brandt, Harvard Graduate School of Design

Mukuru BioCentres, submitted by Dyfed Aubrey, Urban Development Coordinator, GOAL


Mukuru BioCentres: Biodigester Dome Complete

Operation Paydirt/Fundred Dollar Bill Project, submitted by Mel Chin, Artist and Project Director

Sahara Forest, submitted by Charles Paton, Seawater Greenhouse, Ltd.


Sahara Forest: Sahara Forest Concept

SubEx: Moving Small Package Freight through City Subways, not City Streets, submitted by Bruce Cahan, Urban Logic, Inc.

Sustainable Personal Mobility: The CityCar, the RoboScooter, and Mobility-on-Demand Systems, submitted by Ryan Chin, Ph.D Candidate, MIT Media Lab


Sustainable Personal Mobility: The CityCar, the RoboScooter, and Mobility-on-Demand Systems: CityCar and RoboScooter in New York City

Tensegrity-based Structural Systems Development for Ecologically-regenerative Urban Development Along Tropical Coastlines, submitted by Center for Architecture, Science and Ecology

The Bamboo Institute, submitted by Kurt Przybilla, Inventor


The Bamboo Institute: Example of large scale Icon Framing System™ designed by Ignacio Platas

The GCH4, submitted by V.S. Gardiner, Industrial Designer

The SA Social Investment Exchange (SASIX), submitted by Carol Tappenden, Managing Director, GreaterGood South Africa

Water Harvesting to Promote Economic Sustainability, submitted by Roger Salway, Executive Director, Compatible Technology International

Watermill - Atmospheric Water Generator, submitted by Richard Weisbeck, Chief Technical Officer, Element Four


Watermill - Atmospheric Water Generator

World Game Beta, submitted by Katy Barkan, Harvard Graduate School of Design

Images: Buckminster Fuller Challenge

Featured Competitions:
Register/Submit: Apr 29
Register/Submit: Feb 29
Register: Mar 4 / Submit: Mar 30
Register/Submit: Mar 31
Register/Submit: May 11
Register/Submit: Apr 1
Register/Submit: Apr 4
Register: Feb 12 / Submit: Feb 19
Register/Submit: Feb 22
Register: Feb 14 / Submit: Feb 15

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