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Preview: Curry Stone's Five Finalists in Humanitarian Design
Julia Levitt, 12 Sep 08

Here's a handful of innovative, human-oriented solutions to start off your weekend. The Curry Stone Design Prize, a competition debuted this year by the University of Kentucky College of Design, will unveil its 2008 finalists tomorrow at this week's 11th International Venice Architecture Biennale in Venice, Italy.

The Curry Stone judges will award $100,000 to the winning creator of an innovation that improves human lives. The five finalists are described (in an excerpt from Curry Stone's media release), along with pictures of their innovations, below:

Shawn Frayne, inventor of the Windbelt, the world’s first non-turbine wind-powered generator. The technology, which is light enough to hold in your hand, has enormous potential to help people in poor communities power lamps, run small vaccine refrigerators and charge cell phones for pennies a day.


Wes Janz, architect and associate professor of architecture at Ball State University in Indiana and author of the forthcoming book, "One Small Project." Janz’s practice focuses on “leftover places” – the world’s slums and settlements where people build shelters from scavenged materials. In collaboration with his students and local communities, Janz has constructed shelters and pavilions in Argentina, Sri Lanka and elsewhere from found materials such as mud and rubble from demolished buildings.


MMA Architects’ innovations include an ingenious design for low-cost homes in a shantytown outside Cape Town, whose timber frame and sandbag infill construction can be built for $6,900. The design, which borrows from indigenous mud-and-wattle building techniques, is energy-efficient, and requires little to no electricity or skilled labor to construct.


Marjetica Potrč, an artist and architect who works closely with impoverished communities to devise sustainable solutions to quality-of-life dilemmas, such as a “dry toilet” which collects human waste and converts it to fertilizer. More recently, she has spent time in New Orleans examining the revival of homegrown sustainable practices such as rainwater harvesting, which helps collect run-off storm-water, restores wetlands and prevents flooding.


Antonio Scarponi, an architect based in Venice, Italy uses architecture, multimedia arts and design to “jam” the conventional social order and illuminate our shared humanity as well as the social and political lines that divide us. His 2007 interactive project, “Dreaming Wall,” was a digitally generated billboard installed in an historic Milanese square that displayed randomly chosen real-time text messages sent from across the world.


Photos courtesy of the Curry Stone Design Prize.

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