Lovely architecture article in this morning’s NY Times’ Sunday Review. It covers “good design” - designs that help people or have a person’s comfort at its core.
The above is a hospital in Rwanda. It caters people recovering from war and has quite a beautiful campus with comforting views.
This new breed of public-interest designers proceeds from a belief that everybody deserves good design, whether in a prescription bottle label that people can more easily read and understand, a beautiful pocket park to help a city breathe or a less stressful intake experience at the emergency room. Dignity may be to the burgeoning field of public-interest design as justice is to the more established public-interest law.
Careful listening is an integral part of this human-centered approach to design. IDEO.org — a nonprofit spinoff of the premier design and innovation firm IDEO — has made radical listening its hallmark; IDEO.org associates observe and grill would-be clients and sites with so much rigor that they could easily be mistaken for anthropologists. An IDEO.org team assigned to redesign sanitation in Ghana, for example, spent weeks slogging from home to home asking families intimate questions about their bathroom habits before they began designing a system that would safeguard against cholera and other waterborne diseases.
The relatively young field of public-interest design already faces a crisis: interest in human-centered design far outpaces the formal opportunities. Over 500 people applied for the four spots in IDEO.org’s fellowship program this year. The Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellowship is one of the few opportunities for aspiring architects to work on affordable housing and other development projects in poor communities; the program, which lasts three years, has 12 spots. The San Francisco-based Code for America trains and then dispatches two dozen self-proclaimed “tech geeks” to cities where they design new ways for city leadership and citizens to be in conversation, improving their communities.
Read the rest and view the slide show “Dignifying Design.”