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Designing a Good Future

A Zulu proverb says, “What makes us human is other people.” Goodness, when it doesn’t expect something in return, is the only action that makes us human. The mission of an architect and a designer is to serve humanity and contribute to improving the world, through their designs.

You might ask “How can an architect design goodness?”. One of the finest examples of this is the “Intergenerational Learning Center” campus in Seattle. Home to hundreds of seniors, this campus also hosts a kindergarten. Five days a week, children and hospice residents come together to listen to music, dance, tell stories, have lunch, or just pay visits to one another. This helps seniors both cheer up with children and feel engaged in life while partaking in the day’s planned activities with children. In return, children learn many things from the stories and experiences of seniors. Another example of good design is dog cafés that started in Japan and quickly spread to the rest of the world. Perfect for dog owners, this design concept brings a solution to the problem of limiting their entrance to most venues or spaces. These cafés even have special menus for dogs.

Another new trend that’s gaining popularity in Japan and Korea is solo-dining restaurants, designed for people who are alone or feel anxious about going out to eat alone. Tables are separated with dividers to offer guests a solitary dining experience; you can even put on your headphones or read a book while enjoying a meal in this restaurant. Since I’m also an industrial designer, I’ve had the chance to witness many designers achieve beautiful things thanks to technological advancements. 3D printers are utilised in a number of areas from furniture to prosthetics. In Turkey, a group of youth initiated a social responsibility project called Astero to manufacture low-cost functional prosthetics for children with lost limbs. Commercial prosthetics are highly expensive and, even if they can be purchased, children quickly grow out of prosthetics in one or two years and need to change them. This puts a heavy financial burden on the shoulders of families. This group of young people manufacture these prosthetics for a much lower cost and, since it’s a social responsibility project, they deliver them to those in need, without charging any fees. When drawing a framework for goodness, we must also keep nature in mind. And this is when eco-friendly good technologies come into play. A great example of this is the technology of façades that absorb polluted air. The hospital Torre de Especialidades in Mexico City is one of the buildings that utilise this technology. Mexico City is one of the world’s most crowded cities and, thus, experiences serious levels of air pollution. This spectacular façade technology has the capacity to absorb the air pollution created daily by thousands of automobiles. I hope we see more of these good technologies, developed for the good of humanity, and never stop caring about goodness.


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