Yesterday, the Buckminster Fuller Institute named six finalists for its annual Fuller Challenge program. The design competition calls for "whole-system solutions that both demonstrate a clear grasp of the ‘big-picture’ and focus on a well-defined need of critical importance" and honors its namesake, the 20th-century American inventor, architect, and global systems theorist, R. Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller. The winning project, which will be awarded $100,000 for its initial funding or upkeep, must incorporate conceptual design that can be applied to real-world scenarios. Last year's winner was nonprofit GreenWave, which created multi-species 3D ocean farms, simultaneously tackling the restoration of the oceanic ecosystem and giving fishers an opportunity to be restorative ocean farmers.
This year's Fuller Challenge review committee comprised more than 20 design and technology professionals, including: Dawn Danby, senior sustainable design program manager at Autodesk; Jason McLennan, CEO of McLennan Design; and Susan Szenasy, editor-in-chief of Metropolis Magazine.
Below are this year's six finalists:
This Mexican-based nonprofit works with rural and undeserved communities across the country to improve their living conditions through design, education, and sustainable economic development. The organization seeks to create a thriving community that honors its indigenous traditions and local resources.
CommuniTree by Taking Root
Based in Montréal, this nonprofit's project tackles deforestation, climate change, and poverty by financing carbon credits and sustainable wood products in order to fund widespread reforestation by small farmers in Nicaragua.
Waterbank Schools by PitchAfrica
Recognizing the lack of water as a global issue, Princeton, N.J.–based nonprofit PitchAfrica created a system for collecting water through a catchment and ceramic filtration system attached to a school's roof. As a result, the structure provides both a clean and accessible means of water collection, and opportunities for education in the community.
Una Hakika by The Sentinel Project
Tackling the issue of unnecessary conflict that resulting from misinformation, the Sentinel Project uses communication tools such as the internet, cell phones, radio, and printed media to resolve conflict between Pokomo farmers and the Orma herders in Kenya's Tana River Delta.
Urban Death Project (UDP)
Based on the natural process of decomposition, the UDP visualizes community spaces called "recomposition centers," in which human bodies and forest waste are transformed into soil through composting. The idea was born in response to the death-care industry's use of hardwood, concrete, toxic embalming fluids, and land.
Rainforest Solutions Project
The Tides Canada Initiative, a nonprofit focusing on social and environmental issues, in collaboration with environmental advocacy organizations Greenpeace, Sierra Club BC, and Stand launched an initiative to protect the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, Canada, and reached a 250-year agreement to manage and conserve 85 percent of the 15-acre temperate rainforest.