In February 2011 we launched a short competition following a series of flooding disasters across the world over winter, from Australia to Sri Lanka, and right the way across in Brazil. In the face of such chaos and disaster it was striking how it effected first-hand people of many different cultures and classes. It’s a strong reminder that humanitarian design is not always just for the underprivileged in our world, and sometimes circumstances can throw a stable and strong society into massive humanitarian need.
We challenged participants to design for flood victims, and had a huge amount of incredibly creative and interesting entries from all over the world. Having topical competitions like this we have now found not only generates useful discussion, but can also give people who have actually been effected a voice. 160 students from Queensland Institute of Technology, Australia also got involved in the competition as part of their coursework, and their entries showed an urgency and realism that came from their own experiences of recent flooding in their city.
Selected entries were exhibited in a special exhibition at RGU Old Hall where architecture students and academics came along and discussed the work, and as part of the collection at our later exhibition ‘Beyond Bricks’ where the general public was able to come and see what students were tackling through design. Some submissions were accompanied by videos, and these were projected at the exhibitions along with footage of storms and flooding.