Tag Archives: brunel

The James Dyson Foundation and Brunel

In 2007, I graduated from Brunel University with a degree in Industrial design. Since leaving University and setting up Building Trust, I have been lucky to continue my connection with my former University through setting humanitarian project briefs to eager design students. I was thrilled to have been invited by my former Head of Design to be part of the judging panel for a brief set to the students by The James Dyson Foundation.  I was very keen to attend the judging day and see the exciting solutions that the very same pupils whom I had set a brief to the previous year had come up with.

The same students who had spent weeks coming up with their own solutions to improving the very poor living conditions of migrant workers in Singapore now faced a new design challenge.  The James Dyson Foundation aims to “inspire young people to study engineering and become engineers” and encourages “young people to think differently, make mistakes and invent. ” It was great to meet with the fellow jury members and was reassuring to hear that The James Dyson Foundation had very similar aims to Building Trust;  promoting design as a tool for social change through connecting with young designers and engineers.

The JDF ‘Future Solutions’ Design Brief:

‘Design something that solves a problem caused by extreme weather in the UK’

Solve a first world problem using an iterative design process.

The James Dyson Foundation advised students that 2012 was the UK’s second wettest year on record and also the world’s tenth hottest year. As these trends will continue they felt it was very important that the students tackle these new climate challenges. Students were asked to think about areas such as disaster relief, disaster prevention, damage to houses due to flooding, solutions to problems caused by extreme weather, food crop adaptation due to climate change and water conservation due to drought.

It was great to read a challenging brief and I was eager to see the solutions that the students had come up with. Starting at 10am sharp we spent the day reviewing each students submission, carefully checking whether their design fitted the brief. It was interesting to see that many students had focused on similar ideas such as a new iPhone Application to provide traffic advice in an extreme weather scenario or to warn users of a flood. Many students also looked into tackling preventing damage to homes due to flooding with a similar product which blocked off water to the main front door. It was fantastic to see how the students had progressed from the previous year and it was obvious to see through their designs how passionate they were about humanitarian design. The most interesting solutions however had read the brief very carefully and created new innovative solutions to many of the areas stated above.

I am very happy to share with you the top 5 chosen designs which the selected students will now develop further over the upcoming weeks. In May, The James Dyson Foundation will review the 5 developed projects and choose a winner. The winning design will be given £1500 and runners up will be presented with a Dyson AM04 Fan Heater.

The Dyson 5

Bumble' by Henry Davies
‘Bumble’ by Henry Davies

One of the shortlisted 5 designs was by Henry Davies who designed a product entitled ‘Bumble’. Henry came up with a solution to a problem caused by extreme weather. The ‘Bumble’ alerts the public of an open manhole using a water turbine to power and rotate a LED to warn those nearby.

‘Stretcher Chair’ by Matthew Durbin tackled the issue of how emergency services rescue people during emergency situations. The design converts from a flat stretcher to a mobile chair which two people can use to carry a person to safety.

Jo Gregory Brough’s app design entitled ‘Navigate’ aims to combat transportation issues when bad weather effects the UK. Users are able to share their experience with other app users to gain a greater knowledge of the road and transport conditions.

One of the more technical designs was ‘Deluge’ by D Posner, who decided to tackle flood prevention in the home. The solution to add hydromorphic polymer to the door frame. The polymer would expand when wet and seal the door giving the user added prevention against water damage.

‘Sampan’ by Phongpracha Vadanyakul provides a solution to transporting users who have been injured or trapped by disaster. The rescue raft works on both snow and water and provides an insulated waterproof compartment to prevent users from catching hypothermia.

I am sure you will agree that the designs are very innovative and tackle a wide range of solutions to the questions posed in the brief. It is great to see young people thinking about designing for disaster prevention as well as disaster relief.

I look forward to sharing with you updated developments of the projects and images of the winning design in May.

Thanks for reading.


Brunel and Building Trust part 2

On the 17th February, Building Trust set a challenging brief to 180 Level 1 design students from Brunel University. The challenge was to design living quarters for migrant workers within the city of Singapore. The subject area of migrant worker housing called for students to address the fundamental design topics of form, space, context, materials, location, cost and multi functionality. Students were asked to look at the use of space on a number of scales from unit/dormitory size to individual living spaces. The students had to thoroughly research their end user looking into their beliefs, religion and background. The students also had to understand human scale and how the end user would interpret and use the final design. It was also very important that the students paid close attention to selection of low cost/sustainable materials and to the multi-functionality of spaces and products.

6 weeks after the brief was sent I went in to review the students work and crit alongside the key module leaders. The work was outstanding and it was very motivating to see how hard all the students had worked and how much they obviously enjoyed the brief set. Speaking with the students I learned how they had carefully spent weeks researching about the city of Singapore, it’s inhabitants, the climate and the culture of the migrant workers. It was great to see how dedicated the students were to coming up with some truly innovative and creative new designs for migrant worker housing.

Reviewing the Level 1 work
Reviewing the Level 1 work

The students had spent a full day rig building, creating full scale structures out of materials they could find to make sure they fully understood the space they were designing and to gain a real feel of the space to be used by the migrant workers to sleep, eat and relax. Students also built small scale models to gain an understanding of the layout of the building. One team cleverly worked out a way to test the air flow through the housing model by lighting incense inside and seeing where the smoke travelled. It was great to see teams thinking outside the box and I could tell they really enjoyed working on their projects.

I look forward to sharing with you images of the project booklets which each team created (a 50 page A3 document with all details of their design process.) Many of the teams had a very clear visual layout and really understood how important visual communication and graphics are in conveying an idea to a client. I will also be posting images of their rig building day and a few of the incredible scale models.

It was a great day and I was so proud of the students for their hard work and dedication to the project. Having graduated from Brunel in Industrial Design just a few years ago it was really rewarding to go back and work with the students on a project which I had developed with Building Trust. I look forward to continuing the collaboration with Brunel in the future and wish all the students good luck for finishing their project hand ins over the next few weeks. At Building Trust we believe it is very important to work with young design students to help motivate them to see how design can be used as a tool for social change and hope they will continue to think about social design through their entire course and beyond.



Results of the Student Charity Campaign Project

DRUM ROLL please……….and the WINNERS of the Building Trust International Student Charity Campaign Project 2012 are:



I am very happy to announce the winners of the Building Trust International Student Charity Campaign Project 2012 as Brunel Design students Jodienne Ball and Lucinda Bennin who came up with a fantastic video campaign entitled ‘What if it happened here?’ The campaign is set to raise funding for our ‘Moving Schools’ project and also raise public awareness for our charity. We hope you enjoy and share!

Honourable mentions:

We also would like to proudly show the work from the students who received an Honourable mention:

Students proposal linking Building Trust with GoPro
Students proposal linking Building Trust with GoPro


Image above showing Sam Whyman and Rory Southworth’s proposal for their campaign idea linking Building Trust with the World’s most versatile camera GoPro. The team believe that by creating a 5min documentary of the school construction in Mae Sot and then posting it on the GoPro Youtube channel and making the video viral the video would create public awareness of the ‘Moving Schools’ project and hopefully raise further funding. The students contacted a member of the GoPro team and we are now hoping to discuss the possibility of gaining some GoPro cameras to film the build.

Poster competition campaign
Poster competition campaign



– Image above showing Matthew Buckland, Andrew Binnie, Andrew Guscott, Sophie Kell and Michael Kilner proposal who came up with the idea of a poster campaign where individuals could enter a competition to create a campaign poster for Building Trust creating interest and attention to our projects. The posters would be placed on Tumblr and hopefully raise awareness of the Mae Sot build.


Funding platform campaign idea
Funding platform campaign idea



– Image above showing Jesse Smith’s proposal, Jesse came up with the idea to raise funding for the Mae Sot build by placing the school project on a funding platform such as Kickstarter. Jesse also came up with a visual communication for online donations. As donations were received by the website a visual render of the school would be constructed on screen giving the user immediate feedback.
Next Steps:
So please keep reading the blog to see how we go forward with some of the ideas from the students campaign ideas. It was great to work the students and we were very pleased with the work they produced.
We now look forward to returning to Brunel on 30th March to review a project set to the Level 1 students so keep reading!
Many thanks to all the Brunel students who took part in the project and a huge thank you to the Course Leader, Farnaz Nickpour and Sarah Silve for all their time and dedication to the course module.