Assignment 0

Team: Old Skool

Members: Chris Sovchen, Jason Leonard, and Kyle Jennings

Notes and Rationale: We would like to research the materials that have been used over the years only to be recalled due to either health concerns, availability, or ecological impact. The construction industry is moving towards greener engineering which includes reduction of waste by using recyclable resources with extended lifespans. Our hope is to discover what the up and coming materials are and how they will change the construction industry’s perspective on material cost and waste. Furthermore, this research can potentially help us illuminate the aspect of responsible design. In other words, design and development must consider what impact the final product will have and not just whether it is cheap and pretty or how much profit can be made. Does the design create more harm than good? Is it in fact destruction rather than innovation?

Ultimately, a GC may use a certain material because it is cheap, but if said material will need to be replaced due to fore mentioned issues then doesn’t the cost in fact go up. So, maybe a contractor spends more money on the front end but there is a long term savings available. Furthermore, the structure’s quality is improved which could bring repeat customers/ clients as well as a solid name in the industry.

Taxonometric Categories: Responsible Design, Socially Conscious, Environmentally Sustainable, Safe Standardization, Oversight Aware, Legally Abiding Design

Negotiations: Safe vs. Fiscally Desirable/ Aesthetics vs. Footprint/ Responsible vs. Profit/ Material Availability vs. Innovation/ Health vs. HomelessnessOrganized Oversight vs. Public Safety/ Money vs. Time vs. Money vs. Time vs.  Money/ General Contractors vs. Constraints/ Liability vs. Character/

Examples and Source Links:

Katrina Trailer Failure

Siding Recall

Drywall Recall


Why are we re-inventing the wheel? Here are a few examples of projects that are entirely off of the grid and incorporate sustainable materials and construction.

Accumulative Design

10, نوفمبر 2010

The idea of accumulative design is that individual additions and informal gatherings create a fabric of input that can then be viewed as a single design instead of many individual parts. Even if these parts are dissimilar, their grouping can be seen as signifying a perhaps ambiguous and nameless agency. This concept arrived from stripping down design understanding to two basic qualities that seem to be examined in design: what is the artifact and what does it respond to? Accumulative developments are the direct embodiment of a common drive spurned in response to some event. If design isn’t being judged on its form, it is more than likely being judged for its responsiveness. It’s usually assumed that if the design does not work it will fail and cease to be used or exist, so the continued or repeated existence of a thing must mean that on some level it is doing something right.

Urban Slums

The past 50 years has seen a drastic influx of people to urban centers from rural areas, and in many developing countries this means that infrastructure development cannot keep up with the demand thereof. The result is areas of self-developed residences at fringe areas of major urban cities. This means that basic infrastructure, such electricity or sewage, is improvised, stolen, or simply not present in these areas. The living conditions are only as good as the inhabitants are able to maintain within their already limited means which often drives people toward opportunism and desperation. Cut throat attitudes combined with limited resources lead to many slums becoming enclaves of crime and crippling poverty with scant hope for escape or upward mobility. For many, these slums became an unsurpassable web between them the city proper.

However, despite their many obvious problems and often bottomless-pit nature, the thing that urban slums do right is provide housing to poor, itinerant people near the areas they may work or desire to work. The common juxtaposition of slums next to more affluent and “properly” developed urban areas is, until recent efforts, not a matter of the city proper’s expansion into the areas of the slums, but the slums’ development near these centers as a necessity to maintain close proximity between the working-class slum dwellers and the establishments where they can find employment. Another result of this limited mobility is that individual slums themselves form, for better or worse, distinct cultures of their own.

While slums’ informality may cause an infrastructural headache, it also provides a fluidity and extemporaneity that allows them to respond almost instantaneously or reflexively to new pressures and stimulus presented them. This lack of rigidity or plan allows them to negotiate the gaps between supply and demand, concept and production, production and availability, and even adaptation and replacement seemingly instantaneously. In a lot of ways, the fluid nature of slums is echoed in capital-D Design’s contemporary drive to achieve the same level of impromptuity and customability in product design and deliverance. Additionally, the generalized understanding of slum nature also allows for the boundaries of privacy, permanence, definitiveness, and ownership to be blurred as slum populations fluctuate, interact, and adapt to challenges and opportunities that arise within their hectic frame of existence.

Unsurprisingly, the density of a slum then depends on both the existing boundaries its expansion might face and of course the demand for residence within the area. These boundaries are often the city on one side and geography on the other. Sometimes the city-side boundary may not even be the city itself, but a direct inlet to the city. Such is the case in the favelas of Rocinha and Vidigal in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

In some rare cases the boundary might be the city all around where the slum acted as infill to unused land, but in the amazing case of the Kowloon Walled City the boundaries were actually political. This lead to sporadic development vertically instead of horizontally, resulting in block of individual dwellings that appears to be one collected whole.

Interestingly enough, this interrupted uniformity in vertical construction is also echoed in contemporary design. Namely, in the explorations of “erosion” and “disappearance” in buildings by OMA and Herzog & de Meuron.

“Fun” links for slums:

Google Maps:
Rocinha / Vidigal, Rio de Janeiro
Kowloon Walled City, Hong Kong
Kibera, Nairobi
Dharavi, Mumbai

Favela Chic
Life in Rocinha
Epic Kowloon Walled City Thread

Makeshift Memorials<!–

Even on a smaller scale, accumulation can still create solid fabrics of input.

Post walls and makeshift memorials to dead or missing persons also rely on an accumulative process, but instead of seeking a necessity these informal spaces act as a means of expression. The sites chosen aren’t necessarily pragmatic, but perhaps symbolic of or related to the person. In the case of missing people walls these spaces are often understood or explicitly labeled, but when disasters occur the line between proper and improper posting space disappears.

The patterns of development here are similar to patterns in slums in that they are both spontaneous and that both are limited by geography from their point of origin. Curbside memorials are limited by the street and posting walls are limited by the frame of the wall, or by the accessibility of the wall. The size of the spread depends on the amount of individual input and the input itself is never organized formally beyond having a starting point from which is spreads out like a dense brush, leaving only the very periphery with any sense of openness or breathing room. They are contiguous and in their sheer magnitude of information often achieve a sort of monumentality that amplifies their presence beyond just the messages they stand for. They negotiate the gaps between the living and the dead, those present and those missing, emotion and expression, hope and despair, and many others. Sometimes they even negotiate physical boundaries when missing people are actually found.

Granted, makeshift memorials are not always so public, and posting boards with similar fabric are not always about missing people.

Not-so-“fun” links for makeshift memorials:
Wall of Pain, Croatia
9/11 Missing Person Fliers
Beichuan Memorials
Some douchebag
Oakland Makeshift Memorials
Cheonan Memorial
Virginia Tech Memorials

post by: archdork (for reference)

ISS & growBot

10, نوفمبر 2010

We selected the International Space Station as a topic due to its complete isolation from the world of high/formal design, the overwhelming focus of its makers on function, and the international nature of its construction. It encompasses negotiations between scientists and public policists, earth and space, and the advancement of technology in general.

It looks like this.

GrowBot was selected for its nature as a community discussion rather than a product, its emphasis on computing and results rather than aesthetics, and for the aggressive angle it maintains towards the construction of a sustainable future.

This video is weirdly made but gets their point across well.

Oil and Water Don’t Mix

10, نوفمبر 2010


Video: Oil and Water Do Not Mix

On the evening of April 20, 2010, gas, oil, and concrete on the Deepwater Horizon began to climb and explode up the oilrig’s wellbore and onto the deck. During the massive fire that the explosions caused, eleven workers were killed. When the oilrig finally sunk on the morning of April 22, it sent a seemingly never-ending stream of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and onto the beaches in the area including Coastal Louisiana. The initial estimation of barrels-per-day that flowed into the sea was approximately 1,000. The estimation climbed to 5,000 barrels a day, equaling an incredible 210,000 gallons in a day.

As organizations began to work on the containment of the oil, one British designer, Anthony Burrill, used spilt oil to design a poster with the intent of assailing the oil spill. Using oil from the beaches of Grand Isle just as one would use normal paint, the posters were printed via silk-screening at Purple Monkey Design in New Orleans. Organized and sold by Happiness Brussels, they sell for 150 Euros. All proceeds go to the coalitions for the restoration of Coastal Louisiana.


–          Funds to start and maintain project vs. restoration of coastal Louisiana

–          Resources vs. availability

–          Cooperative efforts for businesses harmed by oil spill vs. financial gain from project

–          Employees vs. beneficiaries

–          Intended outcome vs. actual outcome

Preliminary Notes and Rational:

–          Current issue that affects our environment today

–          Innovative method for using a problem as a viable fix

–          Creating a small fix for a problem to bring about a larger change

The Idea Behind the Bag

Caroline Woolard, an artist of New York, sought to shatter the uncomfortable and dismal feeling that one had while riding a New York subway after 9-11. The constant paranoia evoked by attitudes of the populous and advertisements of public transportation made the atmosphere unpleasantly tense for all riders. In hopes of creating a more playful and carefree atmosphere, she created the a backpack that could easily transform into a swing. These spontaneous mesh swings that could easily be created from average backpacks infused fun back into the lives of the paralyzed New York populous.

We chose this design project as one of our favorites because of the spontaneity of this cleverly devised solution to a national sorrow. The fact that its purpose is to provide relief is refreshing-some design only serves the purpose of making people smile or making them feel happy. We also like how it is a plausible idea because many subway travelers carrying backpacks and there are huge areas of open space in which swinging could take place. The people who have done it seem pleased as well.


social design, communal design, playful design, problem solving design


wearability of the backpack vs usability of swing, limitations vs freedoms, swinging and enjoying subway rides vs disturbing people and evoking annoyance, cost of design vs size of demand

Take a Seat

10, نوفمبر 2010

Take a Seat

Jason Eppink’s Creative Triumphs

Rooted in New York City subway station, Take a Seat is an ongoing social design project focused on the issue of available seating. By supplying used but perfectly functional chairs from dumpsters and piles of trash, the members of this project were able to reassign chair locations in areas of the station at which subway goers would usually have to stand for extended periods of time. The success of this project dwells on the fact that it makes someones trash another persons useful asset just by the simple idea of reassigning locations of the chairs.

notes: This design project was unique in the fact that it was more of a service then a design. Similar to Eppink’s project that we studied previously in 1060 (the portable wooden bridge built over a messy sidewalk leak), this design is meant for the purpose of serving others without much cost to either side. Specifically, Take A Seat takes used and disposed of chairs and assigns them to a new location and purpose for which they will be adopted and loved which is an awesome alternative to letting it end up in the landfills or to rot as pollution. Putting these used chairs in subway stations is a social design from which all can benefit.


social design, community design, innovative design, environmental design


Usability of chairs vs Aesthetics of chairs, Effective increase of sitting spaces vs. Clutter/hazardous, Spontaneous chair bringing (temporal chairs) vs issue of stealing and crime arising from chair mobility, desire for more seating vs surplus of seating (is there a cap on the number of chairs? who will enforce it?)

REWORKED Negotiations:

Comfort vs. Clutter

Flow of traffic vs. increase of sitting spaces

Individual (introverted) experience vs. group (extroverted) experience

Timeliness vs. Friendliness

Comfort vs. Safety


10, نوفمبر 2010

WonderRoot Website

What: Wonder Root is a grass roots organization that focuses on the gap between community and art in Atlanta. Since 2004, more than 1,000 artists and youth have joined, making Wonder Roo

t’s monthly participation around 400 people. The program offers a public studio, community service, programs for children, adult arts education classes, and public art to its members.

Why: The organization feels that is necessary to support art in the Atlanta area and to educate the people of the community. Their mission statement describes it as a “non-profit organization committed to uniting artists and community to inspire positive social change.”

Who: For only $60 a month for unlimited access to their space, Wonder Root supports anyone with an interest in art. Specifically, they seek artists to unite, adults to learn, and children to experience.

Notes and Rationale: The most important aspect of Wonder Root is the organization’s inclusive nature. They invite everyone to join their community because they believe all individuals can contribute to the beneficial impact on society they intend to make. The group does not focus on one type of creative expression but works with various mediums, including photography, sculpture, pottery and music development.


(1) Artist to Artists- the relationship between different ideas and perspectives leads to new ideas and community

(2) Artists to Outside Community- design is not only for designers, art is not only for artists, the community can become involved

(3) Community to Artists- relating this in the opposite fashion reveals more collaboration where the community brings their insights

Taxonomic Categories: Community-Based Design, Commune, Sharing, Commitment to Others, Societal Improvement, Urban Connection Design, Art Collaboration

Critical Mass

10, نوفمبر 2010

What: Critical Mass is a bicycling event usually held on the last Friday of the month in over 300 different cities in the world.  The bike ride lasts as long as an individual participant wants. While the group keeps moving, people are welcome to break away when feeling fatigued.  The goal of this event is for bikers to ride as one critical mass, a unified body unimpeded by any red lights and stop signs they encounter.   

Why: This event was founded in 1992 in San Francisco to draw attention to the hostility the city drivers showed towards bicyclists. Critical Mass is not meant to be a protest or demonstration event, but it is seen as a celebration and gathering of city bikers seeking road rights and visibility.  

Who: All bikers are encouraged to join.  In Atlanta, 445 bikers participated in October 2010. The participation in cities range from 20 to an impressive 10,000 participants in Budapest.  

Notes and Rationale: The design and fluidity of Atlanta’s Critical Mass exudes simplicity.  Without much prior planning, besides a location and time to meet, the event flows smoothly with participants looking out for one another and maintaining the cohesion of the group.  Although surrounding cars honk impatiently, participants have learned to use the corking technique in which some bikers sit in front of the cars with green lights to let the remaining mass of bikers pass through the intersection. In an urban, fast-paced event there is always the risk of injury and accidents, so some participants have taken it upon themselves to wear rollerblades.  The rollerblades give individuals ease and flexibility to move among bikes and provide assistance if needed.   The event’s design is rooted in the collaboration of its participants in regards to everything from the route of the bike ride to facilitating safety. An uncomplicated design like Critical Mass that coordinates such a large group of people emphasizes how the most effective structure can be one that is straightforward and simple.


(1)The bikers among themselves– communication and collaboration

(2) The bikers and government– the right to run lights and stop signs, the right to use passive-aggressive ways to draw attention

(3) Bikers and motorists– positive attention and negative feedback

(4) Bikers and pedestrians– new conflict created due to biker vs. driver conflict

(5) Critical Mass event structure and RAND Corporation– The RAND Corporation produced a report “What Next for Networks and Netwars?” which analyzes the structure of the ride, evaluating the decentralized decision-making for military battlefield use.  

(6) Bikers and non-participating bikers- creation of “Critical Manners” and “Courteous Mass” (bike events that stop at lights and stop signs)

Taxonomic Categories: Urban Outreach Design, Community Cooperation Design, Community-based design, Mass Collaboration Design, Government Attention-drawing Design, Safety-promoting Design

Defend New Orleans

10, نوفمبر 2010

Defend New Orleans

Defend New Orleans is a group which promotes the social, economic, and cultural improvement of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in general. It began in 2003 as simply a t-shirt, which would support those affected by the devastating hurricane. It has grown into a “community focused lifestyle brand”, and recently came out with a new line of shirts, called “Support the Coast”, which was created to support gulf coast communities in the aftermath of the BP oil spill. The idea behind Defend New Orleans is that they will sell t-shirts, stickers, mugs, etc., give 100% of the proceeds to organizations which are actually providing labor support to those in need, and raise awareness to the situation and the culture which it is threatening. Their main media is their blog located on their website,, where they post anything from animal threats, to flyers for volunteers needed, to invites to social events. They also use videos, which portray the rich culture on the Gulf Coast, by displaying different bands, activities, and people who serve to enrich the culture. It is very clear how much they are striving to preserve the way of life in New Orleans, and the idea that a simple t-shirt design could inspire such a massive movement is inspiring.

Initial Interpretation:

We were really drawn to this project, because of its small scale roots, and its simple but wide spread cause.  Defend New Orleans is not a group whose main objective is to proactively attack problems but rather to raise awareness to the problems and support other organizations that have the resources to physically make a difference with things like rebuilding New Orleans and cleaning up the oil spill in the gulf. We also liked this idea because our generation in general is obsessed with t-shirts. We all have t-shirts from every event we ever participated in throughout our childhood and still love getting new ones. The fact that a small group of friends designing a t-shirt (which most of can relate to from previous experiences) to simple say, “We support you New Orleans”, could spark this much larger network of people committed to the same cause is remarkable and interesting.


Raising awareness & providing physical support

Small Cost & More affordability (resulting in more money raised)

Reviving Culture & Helping those in need

Popular Product & Inspiration to join a cause

Video Link:

Inner-City Arts and Grassroots

10, نوفمبر 2010
Group Members: Hilary Yeganegi, Andreas Nilsson, John Walker, Sarah Lashinsky

Inner-City Art    

Inner-City Arts    

Inner-City Arts describes itself on it’s website as “an oasis of learning, achievement and creativity for underserved children in the heart of Skid Row”.  The Los Angeles arts education program is a haven for local children and youth, and offers them with every amenity to submerge themselves in studio life.  Professional teaching artists provide hands-on instruction in well-equipped studios.  ICA’s campus is the ideal venue for creation.  Architect Michael Maltzan repurposed an abandoned garage, and outfitted it with simple, geometrical design.  The workspaces manage to accommodate lots of students, yet are still intimate. To kids who may have come to believe that “dreams are for other children”, ICA may be the perfect micro-city in a rough-and-tumble neightborhood.    




Architect and Students    

Architect and Business Owners    

Architect and Teachers    

Students and Teachers    

Why did we choose this?    

Inner-City Arts caught our eye when we were browsing around MoMA’s website for their Small Scale, Big Change project.  The campus is so beautiful we were intrigued to discover that it is actually in skid row.  In the end, we’re happy to give this project any exposure; it seems that Inner-City Arts does a lot of good.

Taxonomic Categories    

Charitable Design, Urban Design, Urban Integration, Community-Based Design




Notes is an organization that promotes social changes by endorsing other smaller organizations by offering them money to fulfill their goals. The organization offers an average of $10,000 a year for each organization. Basically the website is there to promote the creation of grassroots organizations and to get them started.    


Donors and the website    

Donors and Grassroots organizations    

The Website and Grassroots organizations    

Grassroots organizations and society    

Grassroots organizations and their cause    

Why did we choose this? provides money for grassroots organizations that are trying to start a social change, but might not have enough resources to become a fully started organization. Many grassroots organizations have trouble starting up because they are being funded by only a couple of people so usually there is a lack of resources and have trouble spreading their cause. So helps these grassroots organizations spread their cause by funding them.    

Taxonomic Categories    

Societal Design, Communal Design, Economic Design, Charitable Design


Ten Thousand Villages & StoryCorps

10, نوفمبر 2010

Ten Thousand Villages

“One day all artisans in the developing countries will earn a fair wage, be treated with dignity and respect and be able to live a life of quality.”

Ten Thousand Villages is a non-profit organization that helps artisans across the globe earn a fair wage. The program helps Third World people by sharing their stories and marketing their handcrafts in North America. The majority of items they sell are jewelry, home decor, and gifts, all of which handmade. The fair trade purchases made by Americans help artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. The income helps provide them with food, education, health care, and housing.

The shopping experience in a Ten Thousand Villages store is one of a kind. The artifacts for sale are imported from all over the world and support a multitude of personal styles. The sales staff and volunteers are passionate about both the products and the mission that support their retail stores. There is currently a national retail network of 75 stores, along with multiple sales channels, Festival Sales, and a comprehensive e-commerce website.

We chose this project because of the people supported mission behind the program. It is interesting to investigate how an organization in North America can impact help artisans from all over the world. Ten Thousand Villages changes the lives of people who are not treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

Negotiations: Region vs. Accessibility, Social Class vs. Income, Fair Trade vs. Retail


“By listening closely to one another, we can help illuminate the true character of this great nation reminding us all just how precious each day can be and how truly great it is to be alive.”

-Dave Isay, Founder, StoryCorps

StoryCorps is a nonprofit organization that records oral interviews of people telling their life stories. Since 2003, StoryCorps has recorded more than 30,000 interviews, which they submit to the Library of Congress on CDs that are available to the world.

StoryCorps began in 2003, when they opened a “StoryBooth” in Grand Central Terminal in New York. They then moved to “MobileBooths,” which traveled across the States. Through the years, they have had special interviews with those affected by September 11th,, those affected by memory loss, African Americans, Latinos, and more. StoryCorps continued to open StoryBooths across the nation, including one in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2008 and 2010, StoryCorps released two New York Times best selling books, Listening Is an Act of Love and Mom: A Celebration of Mothers from Storycorps.

We chose to blog about StoryCorps because they process and organize individual, oral history. We found this organization significant because it gives illiterate people an opportunity to pass on their stories. When we think of design, we typically think of product design, not design of history documentation.

Negotiations: Interviewers vs. Interviewees, Oral Stories vs. Listeners, Accessibility of the website to users

Life Straw

10, نوفمبر 2010

Do you see how dirty that water is? Would you drink it if I dared you? With Life straw you can! (Or at least, you’d be more willing too…)

Lifestraw is a water filter in a straw. It’s a cheap ($2.00), effective (removes 99.9% contaminants) and is good for about a year’s supply of water (700 liters). Clean water is a basic human need, and Life straw helps millions purify their drinking water, saving them waterborne illness and death by dessication.  With all the technology squeezed into the 12.2 inches of this thing, you could drink mud with no worries.

Check out the video below. You can mix cow dung with your water and still be good.

Testing the Lifestraw: Cow sh!t to clean water video.


Environmental design, Area improvement design, Health related design, Make a difference design, Helpful/useful design


Money making venture vs. social improvement venture, Distribution/Use of LifeStraw vs. local methods of water purification, man vs nature, man vs man-polluted nature

-Roark Design (Assignment 0.3)

Design Outside the Field

10, نوفمبر 2010


“The idea behind Heifer … is similar to the notion that it’s better to teach a man to fish so he can feed himself than to give him a fish that will feed him just once. One animal could eventually benefit an entire community.” — Associated Press

We chose Heifer International because it is a non-profit company that helps people in an innovative way and does more than just donate money. It is designed to give people a new way of life rather than just a short-term fix. The customer who donates money specifies a particular animal or group of animals, which is gifted to the family in need. These animals are used to produce food, milk, or aid in farming and labor. We have never previously heard of this type of transaction and think it is a fantastic and interesting business model. Because it is so foreign to us, it falls outside of our preconceived notions of “design”. The business introduces a unique type of transaction to satisfy a worldwide need.





Resource Design

Community Education

Alternative Charity



Source of Income – Gifts purchased by customers

Short Term – Long Term

Privileged – Needy

Ability – Teaching

Money Donations – Livestock

Resources – Location

Rationale – Explanation


In densely populated Hong Kong, apartments are small and expensive. Having to copy with tight space, Gary Chang, an architect, decided to ease his lifestyle by designing his 344 sq. ft apartment to be able to transform into 24 different combinations of designs by simply sliding and pulling walls. Calling it the “Domestic Transformer,” his ingenuity takes space efficiency to a whole new level. We were especially struck by his idea of having warm, golden light shine into his tinted windows as a way to keep him happier, even in gloomy weather. We also found it excellent that he placed a mirror on the ceiling to create an allusion of extended space. As future architects, we found Chang’s creativity brilliant and inspiring.



Space Efficiency

Urban Living


Architectural Arrangement


Space – Necessity

Need – Want

Aesthetics – Functionality

Resources – Utilization

Harvesting Biogas For Power

pet owner and pet
pet and pet food
pet waste and pet owner
taking the time to recycle pet waste can save time sorting it from other waste when it is later disposed of
recyclers and pet waste
pet waste and machine used to convert it to methane
pet waste and waste deposit centers

environmental design
energy design
community improvement design
waste management design
water filtration design

notes and rationale:
helps dispose of waste
cleans the water system
most public pet areas already have disposal units, it would just be collected by other people
more methane means cheaper gas prices (for things that use methane, that is)
pets can be a tax write off for companies that rely on methane
more stray animals and those in pounds will be kept alive and fed for their feces (precents unnecessary harm of animals while providing them with food)

location of origin:
San Francisco

similar ideas:
the same idea has already been established in several European countries

Pets in America produce tons of waste a year that is in turn inefficiently disposed of, causing clutter and landfills, and in many cases mixing with water sources near the landfills, tainting water used by humans for personal use. In many public parks, there are already pet waste facilities that can/are to be used to dispose of the waste. Since it is already being collected, why not place all of that waste in a facility that can convert that waste into methane gas. It takes nothing more than a conversion facility since the collection and creating waste aspects of this process are already established. Having more methane gas increases its availability for whatever use it would be needed for, making it possible to decrease the cost of methane from what it already is. This means cheaper heating bills among other things.

Vac from the Sea (Not just for mermaids)

“In June of this year the company Electrolux introduced a concept for a vacuum cleaner made of plastic debris collected from marine environments. This initiative, titled the Vac from the Sea, is intended to not only produce a line of eco-friendly vacuums but more importantly to draw attention to the problem of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans. The company is working with environmental organizations and concerned volunteers to collect plastic debris from five key marine areas, such as Hawaii, the North Sea, and the Mediterranean. This initiative highlights the issue of plastic pollution and calls for more research and effort towards the use of recycled marine-based plastics. Vac from the Sea will bring together concerned individuals, organizations, and companies with the common aim of ridding the world’s oceans of plastic pollution and putting it to good use.”

Notes & Rationale
– environmental activism
– draws attention to issue
– brings groups of people together toward common goal
– design for an issue instead of use

Taxonomic Categories
– eco-friendly design
– interventionist design
– collaborative design

– land-based recycled plastics vs. marine-based recycled plastics
– purely functional need for a vacuum vs. environmental activism
– business oriented production vs. volunteer oriented production

Sustainable Design

10, نوفمبر 2010

GWAM:  Grant Wilson, Andrew Miller


Even though many aspects of design help a creation become successful, there are a few instances when a design or well thought out idea fails.  This was apparent in the Haitian earthquake in January of 2010, in comparison to the Chilean earthquake in February of 2010.  Our group sought a case study that dealt with sustainable design that would have a great impact on larger scales, since we dwell in the large scale, intricate city known as Atlanta.  The idea was formed after hearing about the impact the earthquake had on the architectural structures within Haiti and Chile.  In Haiti, hundreds of thousands of people died after the earthquake that struck the nation, mainly because of the architecture within the Haitian nation.  Buildings and other structures were built to resist the vibrations from earthquakes, causing them to crumble as the vibrations increased.  This lead to the crumbling of buildings with many people inside them, thus causing the death toll of this tragic event to be so high.

However, Chile is a country with with a high risk of earthquakes occurring, due to its location on the globe.  Therefore, many of its homes and offices are built to sway with seismic waves rather than resist them through the use of moats at the base. Cameron Sinclair, executive director of Architecture for Humanity even stated “when you look at the architecture in Chile, you see buildings that have damage, but not the complete pancaking that you’ve got in Haiti.”  Sinclair also claims that it is required by blueprints and building codes in Chile that even the low-income houses must be built to withstand the event of an earthquake of any magnitude.  By changing architectural techniques in Haiti, more people could be saved, and less materials could be used in the rebuilding process of the nation, thus allowing humans to sustain the resources they draw from.

This case study isn’t a project that is currently underway in Haiti, but a design fix that, if implemented, could save hundreds of thousands of lives during the next Haitian earthquake.  Some negotiations involved with this “design fix” might include how to implement this design without adversely affecting customs and culture, how the materials and equipment might fair against earthquakes of various magnitudes, and how to financially accomplish the implementation of this new architectural design.

Taxonomic Categories:

Earthquake, Chile, Haiti, Architectural Structures


Between the earthquake and the people, between the people and the city



We wanted our case studies to focus on helping the environment and the future.  After coming across some pretty interesting results, we found that Green Giants Eco-friendly Urban Design Projects was the most unique to us.  While many people are against constructing massive buildings and projects, the giants designs given through these eco-friendly building designs can solve many problems.  The benefits from implementing these buildings are endless.  Just a few examples are that it provides accessible green spaces for dense urban living, grows fresh produce in the ‘concrete’ jungle, and just an overall cleaner atmosphere for living in.   This could even be incorporated into business buildings to help them be self sustaining and efficient.  This can be done so it collecting rain water and recycling it through filters using it throughout the building in its gardens and other facilities that require water.  Cutting down costs and energy is key for this to be efficient and beneficial to the future.  This could be directly beneficial to us since we do live in the large urban environment of Atlanta.  It would not only help us today, but it will help the future of earth.

Taxonomic categories:

Urban Living, Eco-Friendly, Ergonomical, Urban Design, Environment


Between the grower and the consumer, how the design project is financed and how it is paid for, between the people and the green space


SitBPE | Hannah Williams, Deborah Hudson, Sean Sims, Trey McMillon

The New York Street Advertising Takeover (NYSAT) Project was developed and funded by a group called the Public Ad Campaign.  The goal of the project was to bring public spaces back to the people.  Many of the advertisements seen on billboards in major cities are illegal; yet they do not attract the attention of city officials.  One company that is responsible for 120 illegal advertisements is NPA City Outdoor.  The NYSAT Project set out do whitewash as many of these street level advertisements as possible to bring the public landscapes back to the people and remove the consumerist effects of the ads.

The individuals who were involved in the project are of many different professions and backgrounds. They are brought together by the common idea that public areas should reflect the feelings of the citizens.  During the project, five members were arrested and many of the advertisements were replaced within hours.  Earlier this year, the Public Ad Campaign held the Toronto Street Advertising Takeover (TOSAT) and has expressed interest in holding more of these events in various cities.

We chose this project because of its roots in the importance and significance of public spaces.  The NYSAT Project spread through word of mouth and recruited individuals of many backgrounds.  All of whom were interested in bringing attention to the consumerism and advertising that has been ingrained in our everyday lives (all of which was illegal as well).  It also fostered a medium for which citizens could express their own feelings and spread anti-commercial messages.  After the whitewashing was completed, artists came out to engage the public spaces in ways that would be more personal to fellow users of the space.


Marketing vs Expression

Legality vs Illegality

Purpose of Public Space


Café Habana

10, نوفمبر 2010

Andrea Del Risco, Michelle Kraus, Colleen Lu

Café Habana is a restaurant designed to minimize waste, use efficient alternative sources of energy, and educate clients about green methods. The restaurant is as eco-friendly as possible, recycling objects like an old mail truck, and turning it into a lunch truck instead; using solar roofs; encouraging recycling with bio-degradable products; sorted trash bins; and reusing sink and rain water for flushing the toilet. Waiters also make it a point to inform customers about the restaurant’s sustainable efforts and encourage them to do the same. From mail truck to toilet water, everything in Café Habana is geared towards reducing production of trash and reusing what it can.

In the popular trend of “going green”, Café Habana is a clear choice for our case studies. Within a business, it maximizes the different sustainable methods that can be used in a community. Not only does it have its focus on keeping its own environment “green”, it encourages the community it participates in to do so as well. By giving discounts to people who bicycle-power their smoothies and giving excess energy from their solar panels to the neighboring apartments, Café Habana incentivizes their customers and neighbors to join the “green” movement.


Resourceful Design, Green Design, Sustainable Design, Community Design


Profit vs. Environment, Traditional vs. Progressive, Waste vs. Recycle

Teague, Gardens, and Fun

10, نوفمبر 2010

Team Will

Will McCollum, Linda Ortiz, Victoria Acevedo, Georgia Wang


Teague: Give Water

How much water can TEAGUE help us conserve?

Showers, washing cars, tending golf courses, washing hands… Americans waste a lot of water doing everyday chores and activities. Utility bills do not isolate specific activities like washing dishes or brushing teeth, so there is no way to pinpoint where water is being overused and where it could be conserved. Even Georgia Tech, a school that ranks number two on the list of the most sustainable universities in the nation, wastes water in the dining halls, residential buildings, football stadium, and class buildings. The possible reason? The lack of awareness. Water, a resource often conveyed as free, is not without price and consequence if we still choose to carelessly use. Enter case study.

This case study recognizes the mostly American problem of wasting water and finding new, innovative ways to show awareness of people’s actions. It involves a group of Teague designers conducting an experiment and wanting to find out if people would consciously conserve water if they knew how much was flowing down the drain as they used the sink. The group created an Arduino water meter (DIY blog can be found on this site) attached to a facet that would take water measurements at the start of facet use at real time. This would allow people using the sink to see how much water they are using at the time. On average, gallons of water were conserved for everyday activities, netting a 75% water savings!  While people used the sink, they consciously turned off the tap when they did not use it. An experiment success! Not only did this experiment altered the way people used water, made them conserve, and spread awareness, they had a surplus of water which they teamed up with and donated to those who needed the fresh water through My Charity: Water.

TEAGUE Give Water


•    The swap of ignorance and knowledge
•    The want to conserve and the unregulated use of water
•    The interaction of those who waste water and those who need

We chose this case study because it clearly shows a problem and a way to approach the resolution of the problem in a small scale setting. There are also many ways to continue on from Teague’s experiment!



Atlanta City Hall Pilot Green Roof

Who knew a roof could be green? Ok, truth be told, we have all probably heard of Green roofs sometime in our lives. These little miracles are not much of a surprise, but don’t let their popularity draw you away from their importance in our environment. We decided to choose these unique rooftops as one of our case studies because not only are green roofs apart of the Atlanta community, but they will soon become a part of our very own Georgia Tech community, at the new CULC building, come Fall 2011. We will get the opportunity to experience the quality of these roofs firsthand and become engulfed in their natural design and innovative structure.

The Atlanta City Hall Pilot Green Roof is the first city-owned green roof in the Southeast. This ecological design stands as a prerequisite for other green roofs that have spread across the states. Green roofs are highly beneficial for urban areas that are physically unable to incorporate long, lust fields of vegetation with the abundance of buildings.  Not only do they enhance the air we breathe and create peaceful environments to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, these green delights reduce extremely hot summer temperatures and lessen the storm water load on our sewer system.


Effort of production vs. Final outcome

Investment in equipment vs. Ecological Revenue

Natural vulnerability vs. Strength in numbers



The Fun Theory

We make choices everyday. Whether the decision is about ourselves, others, or the environment, each is important. Often we choose the option that is most harmful simply because it requires the least amount of energy and contains the least amount of resistance. The Volkswagen company launched a contest in which change is inspired by fun, calling their project the Fun Theory.

Hoping to inspire innovative ideas, Volkswagen carried out three projects of their own. In the first, a generally unused glass bottle recycling collector was converted into a arcade-like game, allowing the users to stack up points for each bottle collected and put into the correct slot. The results are surprising.

Bottle Arcade

The second aimed to change the lazy habits of routine 21st century society. Though the invention of escalators definitely aided in the design of buildings and has altered the way people travel through large buildings, it has created some very lazy tendencies. Many people will wait in line to ride up an escalator, even if the stairs located right next to the escalator are open. By turning seemingly ordinary stairs into a piano, the Volkswagen company hoped to encourage more widespread use of the stairs.

Musical Stairs

Their last example targeted the problem of making sure trash is placed in the trashcan, and not on the ground next to it. When people miss the trashcan when throwing their garbage away, they often simply leave it on the ground. By adding a motion sensor and sound effects to the trashcan, Volkswagen believed that people would enjoy throwing trash away. It worked.

Deep Trash Can

By creating these examples, Volkswagen encouraged creative responses to its Fun Theory contest. After many submissions, an entry that displayed innovation, a light-hearted spirit, and change was chosen. The Speed Camera Lottery was a system created to encourage safe driving by following the speed limit. When the correct speed is recorded on this system, a picture is taken of the person and their registration number. This data is automatically entered into a lottery, whose pot is financed by the money collected from speeding tickets. This incentive-based system proved extremely effective.

Speed Limit Lottery


Incentive and social change

Out-of-the-ordinary and fascination

Routine and change

Laughter and world issues


8bitpeoples and Google Buzz

10, نوفمبر 2010


Nullsleep – Supernova Kiss (

“The 8bitpeoples first came together in 1999 as a collective of artists sharing a common love for classic videogames and an approach to music which reflected this obsession. Our primary interests were to provide quality music for free and most importantly to have fun. In the years since, we have grown in rank and expanded our goals.”(

The 8bitpeoples is a web-based collaborative effort to produce, release, discuss, and enjoy 8-bit(‘chiptune’) music. It is the home of a number of artists, and also hosts many guest artists’ music. Almost every 8bitpeoples release is available to download for free on the website, though occasionally higher quality releases are available for purchase. It also hosts a listing of upcoming shows that the resident artists, as well as guests, are performing at. All of the music is registered under a CC by-NC-ND license(

8-bit music(also known by other names such as ‘chiptune’ or ‘bitpop’) is one form of music that has become popular at least in part because of the power of the internet to bring people together to collaborate and support one another. This specific interest group is also made possible by the ease of access to recording equipment. As one article says, “Most artists working in the genre cherish a do-it-yourself aesthetic, have little or no musical training and say the programs they use are easy to learn, albeit hard to master. And the instruments are welcomingly cheap. When Game Boy was new in 1989, it retailed for $89. Today, you can buy one on eBay for $4.75.”( One similar musical movement that has emerged recently is Nerdcore:

Another example of a website or collaborative created on the internet(and in many ways for the internet) is Overclocked Remix( “a not-for-profit site that accepts high-quality submissions of arranged or “ReMixed” video game music from talented ReMixers the world over”). ( Their mission, as stated from their website, is as follows:

  • Appreciate and honor video game composers and their music
  • Encourage artistic expression and development through fan arrangements
  • Preserve and promote video game music of the past and present
  • Provide resources and connections for the game composers of tomorrow
  • Distribute great, free music to the world


The communities behind both of these related websites have the same goals: to promote their own interests and hobbies by showing off the sheer joy of creation for other people with similar interests, as well as the entire world.


  • collaboration versus distance
  • enjoyment and capacity for sharing versus ownership
  • special interest and support within a community
  • the music itself: cheap and accessible versus professional and mainstream

Taxonomic Categories:

Community-Based Design, Design that Encourages Creativity, Collaborative Design

Google Buzz

Google Buzz is one of Google’s newest creations. For those who use Facebook, its basic function is quite familiar. Buzz allows users to share updates, photos, videos, and more. It is built into Google’s Gmail UI, and boasts of many features, including being “photo friendly”; integrated with other websites such as Twitter, Picasa, Flickr, and Google Reader; real time updates; and the ability to recommend interesting posts and weed out others. It is also available on the phone, and allows users to post updates and “ideas”(as Google advertises) from anywhere.

Almost immediately after launch, Google received many complaints regarding the privacy, or supposed lack of, in Buzz. Google “automatically enrolled Gmail users in Buzz, and…publicly exposed data, including users’ most frequent Gmail contacts, without enough user consent.”( Google is currently involved in a class-action lawsuit because of the alleged violation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Stored Communications Act, and others. Read more at:


  • privacy versus public information over the internet
  • communication(‘sharing’) in regards to ease of use
  • reach of users(who is this for) – perceived versus actual market

Taxonomic Categories:

Community Based Design, Online Social Framework Design

Valerie Reiss


10, نوفمبر 2010

Andrea Del Risco, Michelle Kraus, Colleen Lu

The Glif is a simple design that has multiple purposes. It was created as a means of enhancing the iPhone4 experience. The creators wanted to develop a way that was easier for iPhone4 users to take photos, videos, video chat, and view information hands-free. Through the Glif, they managed to create a product attachment that was both sleek and functional.

Glif being used as a mini-computer stand.

We chose this product because of its versatility and relativity to today’s society. Since there is such a heavy focus on technology and functionality, the Glif is a perfect example of design that incorporates both into a simple attachment. The fact that it is also relatively small adds to its appeal. Most attachments today are working on becoming less bulky, but the Glif has already achieved that. Instead of being stored separately from the phone, the Glif can remain attached and serve as an antennae protector.

Taxonomic Categories:

Enhancement Design, Technological Design, Innovative Design, Multipurpose Design, Interaction Design


Multifunctions vs. Single Functions

Hands-free vs. Hand-held

Official Site:

Dead Drops

9, نوفمبر 2010

The idea behind this is having USB ports embedded into concrete walls and people can walk up and connect with them and put up files that they want others to see. This allows for a community file sharing system. This started in New York City and only five were posted. Many people have wanted this to come to other places, especially Atlanta, Georgia. We chose this because we believe this is a great idea and it would allow people to feed off others ideas and develop them further. We think there are great ideas out there and this could be a great start to getting them out into the public.


– People sharing files/ideas with other people

The Dead Drops project allows the community to share personal files with one another. Not only this but people are also able to share ideas through the dead drops that can be found around the nation. It can also be seen as a more active form of Peer to Peer file sharing system. However, there is the issue of misusage of copyrighted files and of the dead drops themselves.

-Environment and people

Through the Dead Drops project people can learn more about their surroundings. In trying to share an idea, people are forced to go to the dead drops locations in order to put their files inside the usb drives. This also provides a sort of entertainment for those who are truly amused by the idea behind the project.

Some more Negotiations to think about would involve:

clean files vs the spread of virus’ and illegal documents

easy access vs the ambiguity of other dead drops

legally placing drops vs destroying property when placing dead drops

Dead Drops \”How To\” Video!

-Go to for more information.  Check out this Video!

lithium | language mission

9, نوفمبر 2010

Linguist on mission to save Inuit ‘fossil language’ disappearing with the ice
commentary by lithium | Rachel Wu, Geoffrey Rees, Caitlyn Simpson, Marlon Brazelton

Inuit seal hunter at work

Stephen Pax Leonard, a Cambridge academic researcher, has decided to travel to Greenland for a year in order to document the dying language of a small Inughuit community. Because of the gradual progression of global warming, the northwestern Inughuit way of life has been continually threatened. In only a few short years (estimated 10-15), the Inughuits will be forced to move further south, where they will assimilate into modern culture whether they wish to or not, and their current way of life will be lost.

Leonard plans to live with the Inughuits in order to learn their language and to compose an “ethnography of speaking”- a record of the Inughuits’ language and culture interactions- rather than a simple dictionary in order to fully express every aspect of the northernmost Inuits’ culture. He hopes to bring more attention to the serious issue of language extinction that is so often underestimated by people in these modern, progressive times.

Stephen Pax Leonard


lithium decided to focus on this article because language is such an important element in our lives. We don’t realize what we really take for granted; languages disappear every day, and we forget that they existed. James Pax Leonard is going against the flow. He’s trying to preserve the language in a vibrant, relatable way. lithium hopes to be able to relate the various operational procedures Leonard is planning to implement to aspects of design and consumerism. If lithium goes forward with this topic, this will be our objective. Leonard is focusing on how a trait affects people; lithium will study how design is formed through some aspect of culture.


cultural progression vs. religious tradition

environmental transformation vs. settled population

small scale perspective vs. modern mass media

taxonomic categories

language-based design; organizational design; preservation design


Schools for Schools

9, نوفمبر 2010

Group Members: Kiyah Critendon, Jennifer Driesbach, Samantha Sussberg, Carly Smith

If you have never heard of the organization ‘Invisible Children’, you won’t be familiar with their organization ‘Schools for Schools’. Let us start off by explaining what Invisible Children is. In Uganda, a country in Africa, there are thousands of citizens living in poverty. A group of people part of the Invisible Children organization has raised money in support to make Uganda a better place to live. The organization, ‘Schools for Schools’ specifically targets the educational well being of young children in Uganda. The organization receives donations from high schools and colleges in the United States to spend towards the education in Africa. Whichever school raises the most money can have the opportunity to go to Uganda and volunteer to make the school system better. The detailed areas of implementation of Schools for School are water and sanitation, books and supplies, construction of new facilities, and technology. Some specific innovative solutions are the Interlocking Soil Stabilized Blocks (ISSB), which was designed to be high quality, and inexpensive versus the average brick used in most construction.


  • Ways to go to Uganda: Most money, creative idea
  • The money goes towards: technology (classrooms, water systems, dorm rooms, administrative buildings, science labs, and libraries), software (teacher and administration training, curriculum development)


  • Education vs. Money
  • Opportunity vs. Volunteer’s education

More information:

Video: Schools 4 Schools

The High Line

9, نوفمبر 2010

By Samantha Sussberg, Carly Smith, Kiyah Critendon, Jennifer Driesbach

The High Line is the perfect example of innovative design- taking old ideas and recreating them into new ones. This park is located on the West Side in Manhattan’s Meat Packing District. This area was constructed in the 1930’s in order to elevate industrial freight trains and get them off of the streets of New York. A section of this old structure was turned over to the city of New York and redesigned as a public park. The park was finally opened in June, 2009, and stretches for about a mile and a half. While walking through this narrow strip of park, it is easy to forget that you are in the middle of a city; that is, until you remember being surrounded by skyscrapers and noisy traffic. The landscape blends perfectly with the surrounding city, offering a safe haven in order to view the city from a distance, for a change.


The High Line Design Video 2008


  • old vs. new
  • preserving and reusing old structures
  • park vs. city
  • rest in the midst of chaos

For More Information:


9, نوفمبر 2010

Everyday, 73 percent of the world’s newspapers are recycled and used to produce new materials such as newsprint.  This is greatly increased from the 30 percent that was recycled back in the 1980’s. With the large amount of resources, more options are opened for the use of the recycled paper. A young designer by the name of Mieke Miejer has invented a new design for wood using many sheets of newspaper. With the combined effort of Vij5 Design Company in Sweeden, Miejer has produced a sustainable material that can be cut and sanded as if it were real wood. The many layers of newspaper create a similar look to the rings in the wood of a tree. The design is resourceful and flips the natural process of making wood to lengthen the usability life of a single tree. The wood is cut and made into paper. After being recycled, the paper is transformed back into wood. The design cycle doubles the use and could potentially cut the amount of trees destroyed drastically.

Categories: Eco-friendly design, resourceful design, company design

Negotiations: Designer and Company Collaboration, urban life versus ecosystem, designer versus resources, and material waste versus invention