Tag Archives: university

The Future of Sustainable Housing in Cambodia exhibition.

An update from Cambodia!

I am currently working on the preparation for The Future of Sustainable Housing in Cambodia exhibition which will be held at Meta House Gallery in Phnom Penh from 17 to 23rd May.  The exhibition will showcase low cost, flood resistant, sustainable housing designs that aim to shape the future of housing in Cambodia. The event will showcase architects work from around the globe focused on creating a more sustainable future for Cambodia’s poor. The winning and short listed designs are from the recent International Design competition which Building Trust International hosted alongside Habitat for Humanity, Karuna Cambodia and the Cambodian Society of Architects.

If you are in Phnom Penh during the time of the exhibition please do pop along to check out the fantastic designs on display. Alongside the designs there will also be scale models of some of the projects. We are currently working alongside students from local Cambodian Universities including the Royal University of Fine Arts to produce the models. It is fantastic to have the support of the local students some of whom actually entered the Cambodian Housing competition!

Model Making with local students
Model Making with local students

I look forward to updating next week with photos from the exhibition which has been kindly sponsored by Hongkong Land one of Asia’s leading property investment, management and development groups.

Many thanks for reading!


Low income families provided the opportunity to choose their own home design.

Announcement of the winning designs from the Cambodian Housing Competition:

I am very excited to share with you details of the results from the Building Trust International Cambodian Housing Competition. The competition which took place between October – January challenged professional and student Architects and Designers to come up with innovative and exciting design proposals for a housing design which could withstand flooding and offer a safe and secure home for low income families in Cambodia. Another challenging factor of the brief was the come up with a solution that met the budget of $2000. To read the full design brief please click here

Cambodian Sustainable Housing Competition Brief
Cambodian Sustainable Housing Competition Brief

As I aim to promote humanitarian design within Universities and Educational Institutions it was fantastic to see a variety of concepts from students from countries around the World. It was easy to see from the results of the competition that by setting a challenging competition brief to a student group peer learning can be promoted and an increase in high quality designs and thought process will occur. It was great to discuss with proactive University professors who were very happy to set this challenging brief to their students as part of their curriculum. I hope through sharing the results, we will be able to connect with more Universities in the hope to set further humanitarian design briefs to students around the World.

I am proud to announce the winning team from the Student category as Sanaz Amindeldar from Tehran University,  Nastaran Hadidi from Isfahan University of Art, Ehsan Naderi from Islamic Azad University North Tehran Branch and Siamak Khaksar from Shahid Beheshti University.

Winning student design by Sanaz Amindeldar, Nastaran Hadidi, Ehsan Naderi and Siamak Khaksa
Winning student design by Sanaz Amindeldar, Nastaran Hadidi, Ehsan Naderi and Siamak Khaksa

The Iranian team created a modular housing system, with different arrangements of modules allowing the Cambodian family to design their house based on their needs and tastes.

I am also very happy to share with you details of the 4 short listed Student entries:

Image showing short listed Student entry by Zhang Zhiyang and Liu Chunyao
Image showing short listed Student entry by Zhang Zhiyang and Liu Chunyao

‘Litter of Life’ by Zhang Zhiyang and Liu Chunyao from Harbin Institute of Technology, China came up with a design using recycled materials to create a new housing solution.

'I-Home' by ZHAO Jingxian, CHIONG Zhimin and QIU Lidan from Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.
‘I-Home’ by ZHAO Jingxian, CHIONG Zhimin and QIU Lidan from Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.

‘I-Home’ by ZHAO Jingxian, CHIONG Zhimin and QIU Lidan from Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. Instead of a single housing design the team offered a housing system which the user could choose different facades and interiors.

Image showing short listed design by NAN TIAN, QIN LING, QIU PEIRAN, CHENG KUN
Image showing short listed design by NAN TIAN, QIN LING, QIU PEIRAN, CHENG KUN

‘C-House’ by NAN TIAN, QIN LING, QIU PEIRAN and CHENG KUN from Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. The team aimed to create a better housing model with changeable structures through the use of modular units which are applied to fit various conditions, assembled free and built fast.

mage showing short listed design by Cai Zeyu, Chen Fengqian, Yang Tianyu, Liu Qun
mage showing short listed design by Cai Zeyu, Chen Fengqian, Yang Tianyu, Liu Qun

‘semi H House’ by Cai Zeyu, Chen Fengqian, Yang Tianyu and Liu Qun from Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. The team hoped to create a sustainable house incorporating environmental-friendly features for low income families in Cambodia.

The jury panel day was carried out in Phnom Penh last week with representatives from Building Trust International, Habitat for Humanity Cambodia, Karuna Cambodia, MIT, Collective Studio, members of the Cambodian Society of Architects and most importantly the families that are going to live in the houses once they are built later this year. The jury selection was carried out under complete anonymity, it was very interesting to see that 3 of the short listed student designs came from the same Educational Institution : Tsinghua University in China. I believe that this is due to the fact that through setting a clear and challenging humanitarian design brief to a group of students in the same class will create fantastic results as the students are able to work together to create exciting and innovative design solutions.

I hope that in our future competitions we can promote the use of Building Trust design briefs in school curriculum and create powerful design solutions from the young designers and architects of today. If you are interested in setting a design brief to your students or are a student who would like to get your professor thinking about humanitarian design please get in touch.

Please note an exhibition showcasing the winning and short listed student and professional designs will be held in Cambodia in May. If you would like to know more about the event, please get in touch.

In the professional category, three international architecture firms were announced as joint winners of the competition. The three winning designs by teams from the UK, Australia and USA will be constructed in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Cambodia in the upcoming months, I look forward to sharing with you images from the build.

Thanks again for reading,


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.


A Second Placement with Building Trust!

Hello There!

Well, I am very excited to have gained the WOD placement with my chosen charity Building Trust for a second year running. This year I will be continuing my work developing relationships with Universities to promote design as a tool for social change. I look forward to implementing several design briefs to Universities in the UK, Europe and USA in a hope to challenge students to come up with innovative design solutions to humanitarian problems. Through doing this we hope to get students and tutors thinking about interesting design solutions and encourage them to use their skills to help those most in need. I look forward to sharing with you details of the upcoming University projects.

I will also be discussing the projects we are currently setting to our International volunteers developing research on a variety of areas which we feel need to be analysed and studied in more detail. Building Trust has a large network of design professionals, engineers and architects who donate their skills to worthwhile projects. If you wish to participate in our volunteer programme then please do get in touch.

During my Vodafone WOD placement, I will also be giving an update on the ‘Moving School’s project which I blogged about last year (see full details of my previous blog here).

. Moving School 001 .

Moving School 001 (3)

The ‘Moving Schools’ project provided a mobile, modular school for 150 migrant refugee children in the town of Mae Sot on the Thai/Burma border. I am very pleased to share with you the latest pictures of the school which is now in full use. The school build took place between June – October in 2012 and was constructed in partnership with Youth Connect, local craftsmen, international volunteers and the Building Trust team.

TKHS Students take class in their new building
TKHS Students take class in their new building

In a recent visit to the school it was fantastic to see the excitement and happiness on the children’s faces as they sat in their new school building. In the previous building students of all grades took their classes in one small dark building, the students now have their own individual classrooms which are light and airy. It was fantastic to hear in discussions with the school teachers that the new building was having a positive impact on teaching and learning. The classes were easier to teach due to having separate classrooms, which provided a quieter place to teach, giving students increased concentration.

It was great to discuss with Chan Chan (the headmistress) and the school teachers the benefits and issues with the new building. Although the main feedback was very positive, some additional components need to be added to the structure to ensure the building is watertight for the upcoming rainy season. We will be working with the apprentices from Youth Connect to ensure the building is prepared for the weather. Chan Chan also wished for one of the classrooms to be completely blocked off to allow a library and storage room to be added to the building.

School courtyard
School courtyard

In order to add a personal touch to the building, we decided to hold a school photo day taking photos of each grade with their teacher. As we approached the school, we could feel the excitement in the air as the students all dressed in their best clothes formed a line along the old school building in preparation to have their photos taken. From the adorable Kindergarten class who wore their princess dresses and traditional outfits to the grown up Grade 6 boys who stood proudly at the back, it was a truly magical day which I hope all the kids enjoyed. We look forward to printing the photos off for the students so they can place them proudly in their new classrooms.

End of year School photo
End of year School photo

I look forward to sending details of the University projects in my next blog!

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.