Taiwanese architect Hsieh Ying-Chun is this year’s recipient of the Curry Stone Design Grand Prize, which was announced on October 4. The annual award honors innovation in engaging and empowering communities for positive change related to clean air, shelter, and social justice. The grand prize comes with a no-strings-attached $100,000 cash prize and two prizes of $10,000 are awarded to individuals or firms. Additional 2011 winners include Paris-based design collaborative Atelier d’Architecture Autogérée (AAA) and the software firm FrontlineSMS in London.
Grand prize winner Hsieh has gained international attention for his role in rebuilding and developing new domestic architecture in rural areas of Taiwan and Asia devastated by natural disasters, including destructive earthquakes in 1999 and 2008 and the 2009 Murakot typhoon. The Curry Stone Design Prize (CSDP) jury noted that although working with extremely limited budgets, Ying-Chun’s efforts to build domestic structures and auxiliary facilities like sanitary composting toilets have positively impacted thousands of people. His efforts further demonstrated a commitment to educating local residents about the process of smart and sustainable construction, which empowers them to continue to improve their own communities.
The other winning firms represent both design and technology fields. AAA is renewing urban spaces in a collaborative effort involving construction, farming initiatives, and public art. Their multi-disciplinary projects often act as a catalyst for action taken up by local residents to invest in the development of their communities. FrontlineSMS was founded in 2005 by Ken Banks to strengthen communication within the grassroots efforts of social organizations. Software allows laptops and mobile phones to become a hub for real-time information sharing, and organizations can send mass text messages to target groups for instant communication.
Courtesy AAA (left, center) And Josh Nesbit / Medic Mobile (right)
Winners were chosen by a jury composed of social activists working in the field of design and related disciplines. The panel included past CSDP winner Alejandro Echeverri, GSD dean Mohsen Mostafavi, Cooper-Hewitt curator Cynthia Smith, and prize founder and architect Cliff Curry. Curry and archeologist Delight Stone founded the Curry Stone Foundation in 2008 with three clear objectives in mind for the annual prizes: to honor contemporary designers that have used their knowledge for civic improvement; to increase the accessibility and awareness of social-design work to society as a whole; and to educate a younger generation of designers about the possibilities of activism and humanitarianism through design.
An official ceremony honoring all the 2011 winners will be held on November 7 at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.