The New Breed of Public-Interest Designers

An emerging field of public interest design embeds architects and designers in communities that wouldn't otherwise be able to afford good design.

1 minute read

October 8, 2012, 10:00 AM PDT

By Chris Steins @planetizen



The emerging field of public interest design enables architects and designers to apply their skills in environments and to projects that normally wouldn't be able to afford professional design. 

Writers John Cary and Courtney E. Martin examine the case of Butaro Hospital in Rwanda as an example of what two embedded architects are able to accomplish: "The Butaro Hospital is a breathtaking building with intricate lava rock walls made of stones cut by Rwandan masons, and it is full of brightly colored accent walls and breezeways bathed in light and air... For the 340,000 people who live in this region of Northern Rwanda, the project marks a literal reclamation: an area that was once a site of genocidal violence is now a center for state-of-the-art medical care."

"This new breed of public-interest designers proceeds from a belief that everybody deserves good design, whether in a prescription bottle label that people can more easily read and understand, a beautiful pocket park to help a city breathe or a less stressful intake experience at the emergency room."

Saturday, October 6, 2012 in The New York Times

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