Design with the Other 90% – Cities Exhibit

While attending the UN – Year of the Volunteer +10 I had the chance to see the Design with the Other 90% – Cities exhibit in the lobby of the UN. The exhibit is full of examples of creative design innovations to help those living in slums, favelas, or informal settlements. It is a fascinating installation that ends Jan 9, 2012. I highly recommend visiting if you are able but for those who are unable to, you can check out their website, Design for the 90% or their book (more information below).

Almost one billion people live in informal settlements, or slums around the world. The problem is exacerbated not just by a growing population but also a migrant one. More than half the world’s population lives in cities and around 200,000 people move to cities each day. People move to cities for better access to resources, jobs, school. Living in slums does not necessarily give them that access, though it might get them closer. The innovations featured in the exhibit focuses on adaptive solutions to gain access to adequate housing, resources and infrastructure.

Some of the example that I found most interesting were the housing solutions. The picture below is from an incremental housing project in Chile. A large portion of the house was built with government subsidies that the residents could never afford on their own but then the residents are required to complete the house with their own funds. Some other creative housing projects included sandbag houses, “molding” a house with a plastic framework, and modular homeless shelters.

The exhibit is the second of a series by the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and also has a book out, Design with the Other 90% – Cities. The book basically covers what is in the exhibit and includes a chapter by the curator, Cynthia Smith, some chapter prefaces, and facts and background to the projects. A majority of the book are short profiles that contain really only a paragraph or two for each example included in the exhibit but the book is a nice reference to remember the installation or give someone a chance to “view” the exhibit through the book.

Leave a Reply