Teeter totters as activism: How the border wall became a playground

In this episode of the blog, UC Berkeley architect Ronald Rael tells the story of him and the seesaw. As he hobbled the bright pink seesaw to the us-mexico border wall, he wondered what he and his team would do next. He just wanted to create a moment where people on both sides felt connected.

Detroit City of Design Podcast

Design impacts everyone, for better or for worse. Every week (for 10 weeks), the Detroit City of Design Podcast invites designers, innovators and the curious to participate in a dialogue on how Design can be used to create conditions to improve quality of life and economic opportunity. View Detroit as a global model for sustainable […]

Environment and Activism

Environment and Activism podcast, hosted by Bay Area Book Festival, discusses design activism through an environmental lens. Guest designers discuss environmental activism topics from its history and hope, to its relation to other social issues, as well as specific topics such as food system and sustainability.

The Intersection of Activism and Architecture

In this episode of WNYC podcast, Nandini Bagchee discusses her book Counter Institution: Activist Estates of the Lower East Side. The book intersects architecture, urban design practice, geography and cartography with history, politics and sociology, subtly depicting the history of activism in New York City and how the city has inspired and encouraged political participation. […]

Green Up: The Greenest Block in Brooklyn – Gardens as Community Activism

This podcast, “Cultivating Place,” explores how a community in Brooklyn, New York, are responding to activism through green urbanism. The Brooklyn Botanical Garden hopes to serve and connect with the community through the garden contest, which promotes street view gardening, tree management and community development. This not only ensures community development, but also a green […]

Social Design Insights

Social Design Insights is a weekly podcast produced by the Curry Stone Design Award. Each episode explores different ways in which guest designers deal with social justice issues through design projects. The guest designers come from different design departments and can have a deep understanding of the different branches of the field.

Design Activism for Whom?

In this article, Randolph Hestor argues that all design is design activism because there is no such thing as passive design. If all design is design activism, then what are the stances that designers take? Hestor outlines five main design stances and concludes by describing the characteristics of designers who are catalysts for social and […]

From Pop-Up to Permanent: 5 Lessons in Tactical Urbanism

Tactical urbanism involves pop up projects that are designed to engage the public and inspire more permanent change. This article outlines five stages that can lead a temporary project to have more lasting impacts. These stages include: uncovering value, engaging stakeholders, documenting/measuring, attracting attention and inspiring programs or policies. Authors Melinda Hanson and Majed Abdulsamad

Equity-Centered Community Design Field Guide

When one interacts with a community, one must prepare to be on his best behaviors. This guide provides activities that make you reflect and seeks to redesign your behavior in relation to the community in a more equitable manner. Design in this case signifies how one navigates and acts. To be more equitable this guide […]

Black Landscapes Matter

There is a lack of Black presence in landscape architecture. There are near to no Black figures in landscape architecture history, and the current enrollment in landscape architecture education is astonishingly low. We should work to dismantle barriers so that more Black community members can be involved with landscape architecture, as it would serve as […]

Environmental Justice + Landscape Architecture: A Students’ Guide

Landscape architects must enact equitable designs to bring forth environmental justice. They must be aware that low-income people are more likely to take residence in a place that poses environmental health risks thus landscape architects must take in a thorough land assessment. Then they should also co-generate with the population in order to design built […]

Design as Activism: to resist or to generate

This article seeks to address a couple of common critiques of design activism: that activism is primarily about stopping or preventing things and that activism raises awareness but doesn’t actually accomplish anything. The author argues that designers have the ability to practice a more generative and pragmatic kind of activism by creating positive disruptions that […]

Sharing Design Agency with Local Partners in Participatory Design

This article provides an overview of some of the opportunities and challenges associated with participatory design processes, especially those involving local partners in high poverty and informal settings. It reviews a participatory design project that took place in a Brazilian favela in collaboration with a local NGO and outlines 5 strategies for addressing challenges and […]

Massive Codesign: A Proposal for a Collaborative Design Framework

This book outlines strategies for involving large groups of people in codesign processes. It includes a “collaborative design framework,” case studies and a series of “quick lessons” on collaborative creative process. Authors Anna Meroni, Daniela Selloni, Martina Rossi

Design and the Green New Deal

This is a call to action for landscape architects and designers to get politically active. Landscape architects cannot become the climate remediators they have propped themselves up to be if they remain intact with the client-based processes. The renowned landscape architect Olmsted challenged the status quo, he put himself in the political arena. Landscape architects […]

The Declaration of Interdependence

To honor those who declared interdependence before us, Randy Hester discusses our responsibility to sustain ecological democracy and attempt to achieve sustainable happiness. This video explores all the components and resources required to achieve this, which include the intersection between community, language, nature, politics, etc.

When Learning Is Real: The Mill Creek Project by Anne Whiston Spirn

The Mill Creek project allows students to engage in an alternative way of learning. The teachers of Sulzberger Middle School started asking students to draw what they would want to see in the community. This simple process encourages the students, even those without prior experience, to take initiative in this project and others that follow. […]

Claiming Open Space

Claiming Open Spaces is a documentary film by Austin Allen exploring how parks that hold the history of minority groups, specifically Black communities, have been left put of planning and neglected by the city. Many cultural shaping events have had roots in parks and open spaces within the city. However, historically these sites have been […]

Community Engagement during the Pandemic and Beyond

During this unfortunate pandemic, in-person meetings and workshops needed for many collaborative design process are no longer possible. In this video, five landscape architects share their experience on how they continue to involve and collaborate with the community and stakeholders in decision making. They offer creative and effective strategies, tools and lessons for the pandemic […]

Design Justice: Colloquial Design for a Just City

Architect, Bryan Lee, found design justice and advocacy as a way to use architecture to create the biggest impact on communities. Bryan started his design company, Colloqate, to tell a story and acknowledge inequality to better design spaces that support racial, social and cultural equity. Their goal is to achieve justice through built environments.

How to make a model city: Place-It by James Rojas

This video gives a guideline on how to create a model city using everyday household art supplies. This concise video provides detailed instructions on how to create 3-dimensional topography and placement of different objects that may be on hand. This mixed-use of different supplies allows for an engaging, yet easy way to create your very […]

Community Designer: Chelina Odbert

With a teaching background, Chelina Odbert sees the importance of good design. She has also realized the potential for design to be more accessible, and start tackling big social and economic issues, such as poverty, to achieve equitable communities. She and peers created KDI to help low income communities build long lasting equity in places […]

Theaster Gates: How to revive a neighborhood: with imagination, beauty and art

Artist and activist Theaster Gates noticed many issues, such as neglected infrastructure and abandonment of buildings, in his neighborhood in Chicago. With his artistic background, Gates began to revive abandoned buildings into creative spaces and cultural hubs that people in the community can use. He explains his efforts to bridge the gap between artists, like […]

Chicago Expanding Architecture Conversations on Design as Activism

Metropolis magazine hosted a panel that explored the need to expand the field of architecture by including design as activism. More attention has turned to designing for sustainability, but there is still a lack of focus on designing for social and economic issues. The panel discussed a spectrum of social issues, such as affordable housing; […]

Design Activism in Detroit

The Detroit Collaborative Design Center (DCDC) is not content with the status quo when it comes to built environment professionals — especially architects. Based at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture since 1994, it sees the production of architecture as a political act, one that supports or disrupts the actions of individuals and […]

TEDxHunterCCS: Winston Dong – Design Is Activism

Winston Dong is the founding principal of a planning and design firm, Benchmark38. In this Tedx talk, Winston focused on how design in landscape architecture shapes our society and the way we interact with the public realm. A well designed public space allows for a place where people can work, play, and learn effectively.

Social Justice and Activism in Design

With the help of ArchDaily in Santiago, Chile, assistant professor Shawhin Roudbari explores how architects and designers engage in a community and introduce political engagement in design on a global scale. The trip highlights the importance of cultural exchanges in the design and planning process, as well as in between design groups.

History and Traditions of Design Activism

This design panel includes Clare Cooper Marcus, Stanley Saitowitz, Michael Teitz and others discussing the historical and philosophical roots of Design activism. The panelists discuss the need for social conscience in planning, recognizing people who were revolutionary in the field in the 1950s, recognizing problems and confusion in design and planning, early projects and innovation […]

Places in the Making: How Placemaking Builds Places & Community

Published by MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, this paper provides an overview of placemaking. It claims that the collaborative design process results in both great places and stronger communities. The paper outlines opportunities and challenges in the practice and presents a series of case studies from around the United States. Author Susan Silberberg; […]

The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP)

The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) is a nonprofit organization based in New York City with a national audience. The CUP uses the power of design and art to increase meaningful civic engagement, particularly in underrepresented communities. They make urban policy and planning issues understandable to more community members so that they can better participate […]

The Kibera Public Space Project

Kounkuey Design Initative (KDI) works at the intersection of design and social justice. They view design as a process and a means to a solution rather than a product. Their method of design is ‘ask, listen, collaborate, and repeat’ and working with multidisciplinary stakeholders. The Kibera Public Space Project is the ongoing transformation of the […]

Social Design Insights

Social Design Insights is a weekly podcast produced by the Curry Stone Design Prize. Through conversation with leading designers, it provides insights into innovative projects and practices that use design to address pressing social justice issues.

Urban Ecology as Activism

Kate Orff discusses the need for meaningful landscape design to respond to current issues such as climate change.  She believes in taking a stand in making landscape architecture “promulgate new civic life.” She explores new tools to achieve this while involving everyone in a community through examples of her projects throughout the United States. While […]

Democratic Drawing: Techniques for Participatory Design

This article addresses the challenge of drawing with the public in collaborative design processes. It outlines methodologies for representing people, exchanging information spatially, coauthoring design, encouraging self-representation and visualizing deep community values. Author Randolph Hester

Project Drawdown: Solutions

Lack of active measures in climate change mitigation is largely due to the fact that dismantlement of high greenhouse gas industries creates a vacuum. Project Drawdown is an organization that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by providing design solutions such as alternative industrial practices and technologies. In order to fulfill human needs, the transition […]

New Landscape Declaration

The New Landscape Declaration builds on the Landscape Architecture foundation’s 1966 Declaration of Concern. Uniquely trained in systems thinking and interdisciplinary facilitation, landscape architects are poised to promote the ideals of equity, sustainability, resiliency and democracy through an integration of form and function. This declaration calls on landscape architects to use their skill sets to […]

A Refrain with a View

In this classic text Randolph Hester, a pioneer of community engaged design, presents a survey of participatory design history and outlines opportunities for improving this practice today. He notes the need for visionary synthesis as well as greater inclusivity and collaboration in planning. Author Randolph Hester

The Just City

This collection of essays honors the diverse perspectives of architects, mayors, artists, doctors, designers and scholars, philanthropists, ecologists, urban planners and community activists from 22 cities across five continents. The essayists were prompted to answer two questions: What would a just city look like and what could be the strategies to get there? Their writing […]