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The Dish

Next Generation Design Competition: Empower With Inclusive Design

The Metropolis Next Generation® Design Competition was created in 2003 to promote environmental activism, social involvement, and entrepreneurship in young designers.

Metropolis, the leading magazine of architecture, culture, and design, is challenging emerging designers to define “inclusive design.” The annual Next Generation® Design Competition asks those who will design the 21st century to develop solutions that empower, advance, and include groups often overlooked in the design process (including, but not limited to, the rapidly increasing aging population and citizens with disabilities).

“There are 1.13 billion people who need special help worldwide. This is a difficult figure to wrap your head around,” says editor in chief, Susan S. Szenasy. “So, we decided to make this year’s competition personal. We ask young designers everywhere to think of their own mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and friends. Their submissions should help their own relations, as well as others, to live better lives, beautifully.”

The competition strives for solutions at all scales—systems, experiences, places, spaces, products, or any area that needs to be made inclusive and empowering.

Submissions can be conceptual, in the early stages of development, near completion, or completed and ready for the next phase of development. The ideas must have the potential to be made, built, or otherwise realized. This year’s theme presents four possible areas of focus:

• Pioneer a new frontier—80% of disabilities are invisible to the wider population. What is the solution the world didn’t realize it needs?

• Produce products that serve—285 million people are visually impaired, 6 billion people are left-handed, and 350 million people have arthritis. Be the one to design for the real masses.

• Re-imagine urban living—by 2050, it’s expected that 908 million older people will live in urban communities. What needs to change?

• Build a better system—consider your daily commute - what would become a roadblock if you broke your leg, lost your glasses, or couldn’t hear? How can you make it a smoother journey for all?

“Faced with great environmental challenges, we must all assure that the buildings and devices in our world are not only functional, but contribute to a sustainable way of life in the future—and are beautiful. Great design can make this happen,” says Metropolis publisher, Horace Havemeyer III.

The winner of Next Generation receives a $10,000 prize, but, more importantly, that person or team receives career-building international attention. Past winners and runners-up have become leaders in their fields, receiving recognition from manufacturers, design firms, governments, design schools, and major NGOs, as well as media outlets such as the PBS television series design e2 and theMetropolis film Brilliant Simplicity.

The competition is sponsored by LINAK, the leading expert in electric linear actuator systems, designed to improve quality of life in the workplace. The company’s strong commitment to human well-being, and to life itself, is a true fit for the support of Next Generation®.

This year’s judges include Patricia A. Moore, president, MooreDesign Associates LLC; Jonsara Ruth, founding director, MFA Interior Design at Parsons the New School for Design; Scott Walzak, LEED® AP, architectural technician, HOK, Washington DC and member of last year’s winning team; Gianfranco Zaccai, FIDSA, ADI, president & chief design officer, Continuum. The competition judging will be moderated by Susan S. Szenasy, Metropolis editor in chief.

The Next Generation® winners and runners-up are a testament to the success of this mission. Each project recognized has embodied the core values of good design—incorporating systems thinking, sustainability, accessibility, materials exploration, historic relevance, and technology—while forwarding our thinking on what designers can accomplish. The breadth of proposals has been stunning: building projects, urban planning and community building schemes, responsive interior environments, population pressure issues, new materials, ergonomics, product design, social and housing solutions, environmental management, water purity, and waste disposal in crisis situations and so on. The $10,000 prize coupled with the publicity garnered for each chosen project has helped winners and runners up bring their ideas from the drawing board into implementation and production.

Go here for entry details, and watch for ongoing updates from Metropolis magazine on this important competition. The entry deadline is February 18, 2013.

2011 Winner: A large, multidisciplinary team of architects and engineers envisions a zero-energy future for the federal government building.
2011 Winner: A large, multidisciplinary team of architects and engineers envisions a zero-energy future for the federal government building.
2010 Winner: bioengineered bricks
2010 Winner: bioengineered bricks
2009 Winner: clean energy systems
2009 Winner: clean energy systems