June 26, 2019

Sasaki Foundation Announces Design Grants Winners

Sasaki Foundation Announces 2019 Design Grants Winners

The Sasaki Foundation announced today the winning teams for its 2019 Sasaki Foundation Design Grants. The Design Grants are an annual competition to showcase projects that support and drive interdisciplinary innovation and empower our local communities. The Sasaki Foundation also selected two additional finalists to receive Community Grants, to participate alongside the research cohort in the Incubator at Sasaki with a shared goal of creating change through the power of design.

Each year, the Sasaki Foundation announces research topics that address current trends and inequities in design. In 2019, the Foundation focused on Proactive Approaches to Climate Adaptation; New Models for Housing; Innovation in Transit and Access to Mobility Choices; and Creative Community Building.

“We were extremely impressed by the response we received from applicants, our partners, and communities,” says Alexandra Lee, Executive Director. “The Foundation is excited to fund innovative projects focused on bringing new, local solutions to global challenges, including homelessness, energy resilience, and gentrification, and we are looking forward to continuing to grow our research cohort in the Incubator at Sasaki.”

Applicants proposed projects to win cash awards and office space at the Incubator at Sasaki, a flexible research studio and shared work space that serves as the catalyst for cross-industry collaboration, adjacent to Sasaki, a global design firm. In the program’s second year, the Foundation received 18 applications from multi-member teams competing for the opportunity to take advantage of this unique ten-month residency. The projects represented 42 organizations, 11 institutions, 8 Boston communities, 6 Greater Boston cities, and 2 Gateway Cities.

“We had a great team of judges, culled from organizations like Harvard, MIT, Boston Harbor Now, and Sasaki, who evaluated the teams on how equitable, innovative, and impactful their ideas were,” says Laura Marett, Design Grants Jury Chair and Secretary of the Sasaki Foundation’s Board of Trustees. “We are excited to welcome these new teams as part of our growing research cohort in the Incubator at Sasaki, tackling projects that will empower underserved communities within Massachusetts.”

The names of the 2019 Design Grants winners are:

Designing Shelters for Dignity
Community: Boston
Focus Area: New Models for Housing

While we believe that everyone has the fundamental right to safe and accessible housing, we acknowledge that this will take a massive cultural shift and that in the meantime many without homes are suffering in dehumanizing and degrading living conditions. Emergency homeless shelters strip those residing in them of dignity and privacy, and send a message to people without homes that they are not valued by society. We believe that with design and the involvement of the community, we can significantly improve the mental-health and well-being of individuals residing in homeless shelters, at very little cost.

From Energy Security to Energy Shift, in Boston and Beyond
Community: Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury
Focus Area: Proactive Approaches to Climate Adaptation
Creative Community Building

Applying lessons learned from last fall’s Merrimack Valley Gas Disaster, we will test and develop methods for Boston and other municipalities to effectively inventory and build household electric capacity across diverse housing stock and communities that (1) provide disaster responders with information about which houses are able to switch to electric-based heating/cooking in the event of future potential gas outages associated with deferred maintenance or climate change, and (2) simultaneously lay groundwork to prioritize electric upgrades in municipal housing stock for permanent electrification to meet aggressive climate action plans like Carbon Free Boston.

Rentify Chinatown
Community: Chinatown
Focus Area: Creative Community Building

Chinatowns across the country are experiencing rapid gentrification and being reshaped by the influx of luxury residential developments, institutional expansions, and short-term vacation rental models like Airbnb. Our study focuses on Chinese families under the threat of displacement and eviction in Boston’s Chinatown by utilizing Airbnb data to map and understand the issue from a top-down perspective. Meanwhile, we plan to engage with these communities through interviews and community meetings. To address a major challenge faced by the city and empower communities, our project will provide conducive insights and proofs for advocacy strategies, including policy interventions led by these organizations.

The names of the 2019 Community Grant winners are:

East Boston Mobility Hubs
Community: East Boston
Focus Area: Innovation in Transit and Access to Mobility Choices

To address East Boston’s unique mobility challenges, our team is designing a prototype Mobility Hub: a designated, easily identifiable location where multiple modes of transportation converge, guaranteeing that on a 24/7 basis, people can find at least one (and optimally several) sustainable mode of transportation to get them to their ultimate destination. Mobility Hubs fit into their specific locations and are contextual while also being easily replicable. These Hubs also serve as a convenient place to find accurate, real-time information about transit schedules and sustainable mobility choices. A Mobility Hub also adds vibrancy, safety, and legibility to the public realm.

Knitting the Alewife: From Vulnerable to Vibrant
Community: Alewife
Focus Area: Proactive Approaches to Climate Adaptation
Creative Community Building

Responding to over four decades of planning efforts by various entities, Knitting the Alewife activates a constellation of community actors to collaboratively build resilience into the vulnerable urban system. By leveraging the Sasaki Incubator along with public events, installations, and conversations, we’ll create a regional learning community of residents and stakeholder groups, designers, researchers, and adjacent towns. Working together to find shared meaning in climate data, we explore and evaluate system-based strategies for the short-, medium-, and long term and co-implement a demonstration pop-up project. Our goal is to learn to knit resilience into a vibrant socioecological urban fabric.

For more information, visit the 2019 Winners page.

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