architecture brio + billionBricks build elevated school in malaysia for marginalized children

the school, which offers safety and security, runs a full learning program six days a week with all necessary curriculum subjects.

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zaha hadid presents real-time modeling VR experiment in first latin american exhibition

'project correl' invites visitors to the exhibition to collectively build a virtual structure that will grow over the coming months.

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Kaldewei Iconic Bathroom Solutions

Versatile design icons: Kaldewei bathroom solutions made of steel enamel have been shaping the look of modern bathrooms for 100 years

5 Cities Win Innovation Award in Guangzhou

The Jinkou landfill and adjacent Zhanggong Dyke has been reclaimed as an urban park that's now a popular wedding venue. (Credit: City of Wuhan)

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Asia’s largest garbage dump once smoldered with trash fires and belched so much methane across Wuhan that nearby residents could not open their windows. Now, the reclaimed trash heap is a green oasis so verdant it has become a popular wedding venue; and the Chinese city of 11 million hosted an international garden expo on the site.

That remarkable transformation was honored on Friday alongside four other cities in a gala ceremony at the fourth edition of the Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation.

“Wuhan’s project gives us all hope for the future,” said Celia Wade-Brown, former mayor of Wellington, New Zealand, who chaired the seven-member jury. “They’ve taken a toxic urban environment and turned it into a flagship park.”

Wuhan’s $690-million restoration of the Jinkou landfill and adjacent Zhanggong Dyke improved air and water quality for 400,000 residents. On a smaller scale, Mezitli, Turkey, population 250,000, received an award for establishing nine markets reserved for 612 women who sell citrus, tomatoes, dried fruits, homemade jams, pastas, spices, and sweets typical of the Mediterranean city, but who have trouble getting a foot in the door in male-dominated traditional markets.

“Our choices included a diversity of issues, geography, and scale,” Wade-Brown said. “All municipalities, whatever their size, can make a demonstrable difference in the lives of their citizens.”

Mezitli won an award for starting nine women-only markets for purveyors who have trouble getting a foot in the door for what, in Turkey, is a male-dominated field. (Credit: City of Mezitli)

The Guangzhou Award was established in 2012 to encourage global cities to learn from each other and collaborate directly to solve problems. The City of Guangzhou works with United Cities and Local Governments, an international network of cities, and Metropolis, the world association of major metropolises, to identify the most innovative practices taking place in city halls around the world.

“The 15 cities presented for this year’s Guangzhou Award are positive stories of hope that show we can begin to solve the major challenges facing humanity in an increasingly urbanizing world,” said Nicholas You, Executive Director of the Guangzhou Institute for Urban Innovation.

The Guangzhou Awards also emphasize how municipalities can adapt global agendas such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and New Urban Agenda for sustainable cities to the work of local government.

New York City took the prize for Global Vision, Urban Action, an adapted sustainability plan that maps the city’s OneNYC Plan onto the goals and targets of the SDGs. In July, New York became the first city in the world to submit a report to the United Nations on its progress thus far toward the global goals.

The planning process was also at the center of Guadalajara’s winning entry, which was given to the Metropolitan Planning Institute. One of Latin America’s only cities thinking at the metropolitan level, the institute coordinates land use planning for a nine-municipality region of 5 million centered around Mexico’s second-largest city. To produce its latest metropolitan plan, the institute engaged in a four-month public outreach effort called Ruta 2042 that solicited input from more than 3,000 people.

Guadalajara won for its Ruta 2042 project, to solicit community input for the city's planning process. (Credit: City of Guadalajara)

Finally, Milan built on the legacy of the food-focused World Expo it hosted in 2015 and adopted an innovative urban food policy that addresses the entire food chain from farm to table to scraps. The policy bolsters nearby agricultural producers by, for example, mandating that school canteens source ingredients locally and rebating restaurants’ food waste tax by 20% if they donate excess to charity.

Each winning city won $20,000. The winners were selected from 15 shortlisted cities. The other cities in contention for the award were eThekwini (Durban), South Africa; Kazan, Russia; Repentigny, Canada; Salvador, Brazil; Santa Ana, Cosa Rica; Santa Fe, Argentina; Surabaya, Indonesia; Sydney, Australia; Utrecht, Netherlands, and Yiwu, China.


Survivors of Law Enforcement Violence Gain Thousands of Key Allies

In this Thursday, July 23, 2015 photo, Candie Hailey, center, speaks during a monthly rally calling for the end of solitary confinement, organized by Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC), a coalition of advocates, formerly incarcerated people and their family members in New York. Attending the monthly rally for the first time, Hailey viewed her participation as a step forward as she struggles to break free from the trauma of her confinement before an ultimate not guilty verdict. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

In 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union launched a class action lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for abuses in the jail system. Reading the 86-page report prompted activist Patrisse Cullors to create a performance art piece that became known as STAINED: An Intimate Portrayal of State Violence.

STAINED grappled with her older brother’s story of abuse in the Los Angeles jail system during the 1990s. After being diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, he was abused and kept in solitary confinement during incarceration. After leaving prison, he continued to struggle with his health.

“On paper, he’d be considered by law enforcement or judges as a dangerous human being,” says Mark-Anthony Johnson, a board member with grassroots prison abolition organization Dignity and Power Now, which Cullors founded in 2012. “But what the community knows … we know that what he needed, at any given moment, was a support network and access to healthcare.”

Cullors toured STAINED around Los Angeles County, prompting a desire to challenge the county jail system with a focus on health and wellness. Since its founding, Dignity and Power Now has led campaigns to end sheriff violence, launched an arts and wellness collective, formed a rapid response team of healers, and created leadership and reentry programs.

The grassroots notion of law enforcement violence as a public health crisis just received major validation from the American Public Health Association, a body of over 25,000 public health professionals across the country. At its annual conference in November, voting representatives overwhelmingly voted to adopt the policy statement, “Addressing Law Enforcement Violence as a Public Health Issue.”

The policy statement not only identifies police violence as a public health matter — it calls for decriminalization measures, divestment from law enforcement and policing alternatives.

“This document gives us a tremendous tool in the toolbox,” says Johnson, who is both an organizer and licensed acupuncturist. “A national public health organization, that works directly with public health providers, has validated a narrative that grassroots organizations and families have been talking about for years.”

In the United States, the intersection of public health and law enforcement has intensified. A 2014 report by the Treatment Advocacy Center noted bluntly that “prisons and jails have become America’s ‘new asylums,’” with ten times more mentally ill people in prison than in state psychiatric hospitals. The Sentencing Project found states with less access to mental healthcare have more adults in the criminal justice system. Prisons often provide inadequate mental health treatment. Inmate mistreatment, abuse and solitary confinement, all issues widely reported on, can either exacerbate or prompt mental health issues.

Another study by the Treatment Advocacy Center found people with untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed during a police encounter.

“We’re not talking about negative health as an outcome of law enforcement violence, we’re talking about negative health outcomes as the intent of law enforcement violence,” Johnson says. “There is need for a public clarity around this.”

The policy statement was a three-year collaboration between public health workers and researchers, organizers and members of communities most affected by law enforcement violence.

Presenting the first draft of the policy to the American Public Health Association, “we weren’t really sure what to expect,” says Liz Kroboth, a co-author of the policy statement.

The draft statement was passed as a one-year interim policy in 2016. “We didn’t initially expect it to pass, because the policy solutions are progressive in nature,” Kroboth says.

“The basis of the statement was to highlight the ways the system of policing is oppressive and rooted in racism and classism,” says Julianna Alson, another co-author. “Each of the solutions not only addressed police violence in a downstream way, but addressed the roots of power and oppression.”

The policy proposes ten solutions that include increased research around the health consequences of law enforcement violence, studying interventions (like decriminalization) that may decrease public reliance on law enforcement, and allocating funding from law enforcement to community-based programs.

“It was critical those solutions remain intact,” says Alson.

The authors of the policy pushed back against more mainstream suggestions from the association, like body cameras and police training. “We didn’t feel like [those suggestions] get at the issue of power and how policing can be oppressive,” says Kroboth.

The dialogue around solutions delayed the official policy adoption to this year. “It took time for these recommendations to be accepted more broadly,” Kroboth says.

The significance of a policy with an abolitionist framework is not lost on organizers working to end the country’s policing and criminal justice systems. “It is solutions-oriented in a way that’s in line with what communities most harmed by policing have demanded for decades,” says Jess Heaney, development director with abolitionist prison organization Critical Resistance.

Back in Los Angeles, Dignity and Power Now is working on a campaign to allocate money from the county’s $3.5 billion jail plan into mental health diversion programs and community resources.

Their work coincides with one policy solution, Johnson notes, of taking funding from law enforcement and directing it to the communities most affected. “Changing the power dynamic is key,” he says. “And this policy statement says: Look, the community knows the answers. Investing in community-based solutions, that’s the answer.”


this pinecone-shaped treehouse offers 360 degree views of the forest’s canopy 

blending the classic pinecone shape with the geometric elements of a geodesic dome, the structure immerses all who enter in the beauty of the natural world.

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Gagosian Rome presents new works by Sarah Sze

We speak to contemporary American artist, Sarah Sze, about her new works and her latest exhibition at the Gagosian Rome.

virgil abloh in conversation with designboom

louis vuitton menswear creative director virgil abloh engaged in a public talk at spazio maiocchi in milan.

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Urban Agriculture Sprouting Roots In Illinois’ Legislative Soil

Fred Daniels (left), director of urban farms at Growing Home and a Growing Home Production Assistant at work. (Photo by Andrew Collings, courtesy of the photographer and Growing Home)

Fred Daniels grew up down the street from the Growing Home produce farm, in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. His grandmother was from the South and always had a backyard garden, which Daniels would help her tend. Back in 2010, Daniels saw a notice for a job opening at the produce farm. Today he’s Growing Home’s Director of Urban Farms.

“I didn’t actually expect to be doing agriculture on the scale that we do,” says Daniels, who oversees all of the farm training for production assistants in the field, crop planting, crop rotation, and the overall function of the farm. “We grow 30,000-35,000 pounds of food every year,” says Daniels. Growing Home claims to be first and only certified organic “high-production” urban farming operation inside the city of Chicago.

Education and job training have been an integral part of Growing Home since it was established in 2002. The training program includes three cohorts of production assistants annually, with as many as 55 trainees ranging in age from 18 to over 60. Each cohort completes a 14-week training program where participants learn the nuts and bolts of urban agriculture. They also receive instruction in assembling résumés and cover letters, along with so-called soft skills such as communication and professionalism. Last year, according to Growing Home, the placement rate for program alumni was about 95 percent, with most landing jobs in the food service industry. Many participants in Growing Home’s production assistant cohorts have limited work histories.

“We really don’t discriminate against backgrounds, including people that have been incarcerated. We give people … a second chance who have been out of work for a few years to get back into the workforce,” says Daniels.

Urban farming initatives in Chicago like Growing Home, Green City Market, Grow Greater Englewood, and Advocates for Urban Agriculture can now expect a significant boost with the final passage of HB3418, co-sponsored by State Representative Sonya Harper of Chicago and State Senator Mattie Hunter. HB3418 allows municipalities and counties across the state, including Chicago, to establish urban farming districts, supported with financial incentives such as reduced water rates, utility fees and property tax abatements.

HB3418 originally passed with overwhelming bipartisan and bicameral support. Outgoing Republican Governor Bruce Rauner stripped the bill of much of its financial support through an amendatory veto, but both houses of the Illinois Assembly voted to override Rauner’s veto at the end of November, allowing the original bill to become law.

“We were one of the many partners that were a part of [the override effort] along with Rep. Sonya Harper and Senator Maggie Hunter,” says Nick Lucas, programs manager for Advocates for Urban Agriculture.

The bill is modeled after the support that is already extended to rural farmers, Lucas explains. “For the next steps, we’re looking at implementation and we’ll see where things go,” Lucas says.

Chicago has previously adopted several modifications to its zoning ordinance to accommodate urban farming and community gardening. The City of Chicago also provides guidance for gardeners and farmers. Advocates expect the new statewide legislation to aid in establishing new urban farms as well as enhancing established programs such as Growing Home.

Governor-Elect J.B. Pritzker and Lieutenant Governor-Elect Juliana Stratton are also providing space for urban agriculture leaders to play a role in their administration. As part of the transition, they’ve assembled an Agricultural Advisory Committee to advise on agricultural policy throughout the state. The committee features a strong urban agricultural contingent, including Rep. Harper and Anton Seals, who co-founded Grow Greater Englewood along with the state representative in 2014. Other members include Erika Allen, co-founder of Urban Growers Collective. The committee held its first meeting in early December 2018.

Seals views his role on the committee as ensuring a seat at the table for black and brown urban farmers. He hopes to have a similar presence as he did in the development of the Green Healthy Neighborhood Plan that was approved by the City of Chicago Plan Commission back in 2014.

“We wanted to make sure there was a space for black people in particular in this neighborhood, when there was the Green Healthy Neighborhood Plan that came out of the city,” Seals says. The idea with that plan, he explains, was to use a lot of the vacant lots to spur an agricultural district on the South Side.

Urban farmers, especially those of color, face unique challenges, including zoning restrictions, lack of access to capital and environmental contamination that goes down to the soil, not to mention a perception that African Americans are removed from agriculture and farming — a perception Seals views as erroneous.

“It is really important for us to kind of uplift and highlight that it wasn’t just our labor that [slave-owners] extracted, it was our knowledge of caring for the land — that’s part of our work,” says Seals, whose title is “Lead Steward,” rather than executive director.

“This notion of stewardship is … stewarding the land in relationship to the land, and not over the land as owners, which is a Western concept,” Seals explains. “As African people across the Diaspora, it’s what we’ve been doing since we’ve been on the planet.”

Seals estimates that establishing each urban farm requires between $30,000 and $35,000, which is a relatively small investment, but still challenging for urban farmers who have to deal with historically restricted access to capital and an extremely slender profit margin. Soil remediation presents another significant financial challenge. Grow Greater Englewood is investigating less expensive options, including composting and growing cover crops, to help clean the soil. Addressing these and similar issues motivated Seals and State Rep. Harper to establish Grow Greater Englewood.

“Grow Greater Englewood helps these farmers access the land and provide technical assistance, legal assistance, helping them with any kind of the technical stuff, helping them with marketing,” says Seals. “Right now we have three farming businesses that are coming online in 2019.”

Urban farmers have more power, influence and know-how acting collectively, Lucas says.

“Our role [at Advocates for Urban Agricutlure] is to … facilitate information and resource sharing so that people don’t have to be experts in all things,” Lucas explains. “For example, if you’re trying to start a farm business, an urban farm, you might know everything about growing food but you don’t have a background in zoning or business licensure or who to talk to, to get your fire hydrant turned on, all those things. Ultimately, it’s not rocket science but it takes a lot of time to figure those things out.”

The Chicago Urban Agriculture Mapping Project (CUAMP) is another key project of Advocates for Urban Agriculture. Launched in 2015, in cooperation with DePaul University, NeighborSpace and the Chicago Food Policy Action Council, the mapping project is a continually-updated interactive map of more than 850 community gardens, school gardens and commercial urban farms across the entire Chicago region.

Green City Market, which will begin its 20th year in 2019, was inspired by the European emphasis on locally-grown and cultivated foods. Green City Market presently works with more than 55 urban and family farms located in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan, all of which are certified through a third party such as USDA Organic or Certified Naturally Grown. Superstar chef Rick Bayless was a founding member of Green City Market, and purchases much of his food from the organization, according to Executive Director Melissa Flynn.

“One of the main goals of our market is to help our sustainable farmers earn a living for generations to come so that Chicago’s food system is better for it and more resilient and we’re not dependent on procuring our food from outside sources,” Flynn says. “Right now less than five percent of the food in Illinois actually comes from Illinois. And the position we’re in here in Chicago we’re surrounded by great, great farmland in Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin.”

Green City Market also conducts hands-on educational programs with Chicago Public School students, based on the Edible Gardens program launched by Alice Waters. “They’re really learning soup-to-nuts so to speak, how to create meals and how to nourish themselves. Lots of vegetables, learning that root vegetables are not scary, that they break down, and about butternut squash … it is very much hands on,” Flynn says.

Urban agriculture programs have received a lot of press in recent years, which may lead some people to believe, erroneously, that the challenge of healthy food systems has been solved, according to Flynn.

“A lot of people think that with all the farm-to-table restaurants we have, all the press, the sort of use of local all over the place that we’ve already established this wonderful food system and that the work is done,” she says. “We are definitely not there. We are at maybe the first or second rung of a really tall ladder to improving our food system.”


Concrete oasis: Glenstone Museum by Thomas Phifer and Partners

Nestled in sleepy Maryland, the new Glenstone Museum, designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners, harnesses nature and concrete to create an immersive, sensory experience blending art and architecture. Far away from crowds and city stress, does ‘slow art…

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Architect Mahmood Fallahian

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