Syria Post-War Housing: Winners

matterbetter initiated the “Syria: Post-War Housing” competition for architectural students and professionals. Participants were asked to propose a solution for the housing crisis which will affect the country as refugees return.
The International Jury consisted of Urko Sanchez, Dick van Gameren, Felix Madrazo, Riccardo Luca Conti, Laurens Bekemans, Rune Asholt, Cristina Cassandra Murphy and Daria Polozkova.
matterbetter received 245 submissions.
The list of winners and the jury statements have now been released.


Dyslexic Design

The designjunction exhibition will play host to the inaugural Dyslexic Design, which explores the connection between dyslexia and the creative industries. The project, in support of the British Dyslexia Association, is to celebrate dyslexic designers’ work over five days during the London Design Festival.

More than 10 leading designers from multiple design disciplines including product, fashion, illustration, home decor and fine art – all of whom are dyslexic – will showcase their work in a stunning temporary curated exhibition at designjunction. Confirmed designers include: Sebastian Bergne, Terence Woodgate, Kristjana S Williams, Tom Raffield, Tina Crawford, Rohan Chhabra, Vitamin, and Jim Rokos.

European Academy of Design Conference 2017: Design for Next

The European Academy of Design (EAD) is calling for proposals for its 12th conference, “Design for Next.” Hosted by Sapienza University of Rome in Italy, the conference aims to foster discussion among designers, academics and experts about the articulated scenario of contemporary design and its perspectives, with intent to nurture diversity and interdisciplinarity. The deadline for submissions is August 15, 2016.



A New Milestone Of Robot Ethics

A bomb disposal robot similar to that used to end standoff with Dallas gunman Micah Johnson.

Big questions arise from the tragic shootings of recent days in Dallas Texas. The local police defended their decision to use a robot to kill the gunman who had fatally shot five officers. The gunman was killed by the explosion of a device carried toward him by remote control, after he was cornered by officers at a college parking garage. The action is thought to be the first killing carried out by US police using a robot.

In the days since the event, legal experts around the world have expressed concern that the use of killer robots raises a battery of technical, ethical and legal questions which must be answered. Designers and professionals of every kind beware, there is much to be done to address the psychological, societal, ethical and legal aspects of our new non-human citizens.

The Soupometer

Cups of soup lined up at Pea Soup House, an installation linking soup to air quality.

How would you know whether the air quality is good or bad in London ? From the colour of your soup of course…

Staff and visitors at the central London headquarters of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) are being treated to daily free soup from the Pea Soup House, a pop-up installation in the lobby that serves colour-coded soup which matches the UK government’s Daily Air Quality Index (DAQI).  Flavours start with pea soup (green for good air quality) then move to yellow butternut squash or red pepper and chilli as the air gets worse.

“People might come to Pea Soup House not knowing much at all about air quality, or just say ‘free soup, brilliant’ – but that for us is a way into a wider discussion,” says architect Chris Allen. “The soup means people can connect that day to air quality and start to make those links themselves,” explains researcher Joe Jack Williams.

Reality Check: first human victim of automous cars

After a few years of mass hysteria it was bound to happen. Today’s newspapers all carry a piece about the recent unfortunate death of a gentleman in the USA who was in a Tesla Model S which was running on autopilot. As has been widely prognosticated, technology provides many opportunities but is not full proof and does not always provide better performance than a human being. Further, the serious point which much of the recent hysteria seems to have missed, is that the most critical aspect is not something related to the accuracy of the sensors or the software, but instead the complex dynamics between the human and the robot. The human centred design issues of communication, identity, social interaction, trust and ethics will be the far more difficult nuts to crack than the accuracy of the sensors in the rain or snow. Fortunately, centres such as HCDI are working hard to get to grips with these critical matters.

The Semantic Turn: a new foundation for design

It has come to my attention recently that I have been remiss in posting a mention of one of the key academic texts treating human centred design . Klaus Krippendorff’s comprehensive text provides a wealth of information and perspectives regarding the issues which are at the heart of human centred design.

As Krippendorff neatly summarises, “humans do not see and act on the physical qualities of things, but on what they mean to them”, and the text covers in detail the sources of meaning which arise from language usage and discourse.

While the text is certainly not an easy read, and may appear to many designers to be over-intellectualised and overreaching in scope, Krippendorff’s rigour and depth of thought cannot be faulted. It is difficult to image a single source of information which touches upon so many of the issues which are at heart of modern human centred practice.