Short List for the Social Design Award We Want to Know What You Think!
With this year's Social Design Award, given out by SPIEGEL ONLINE and SPIEGEL WISSEN, we sought out inspiring ideas for improving our streets. The submissions have now been narrowed down to a short list of the 10 best entries -- and now it's time for SPIEGEL ONLINE readers to vote for the one that will take home the audience prize.
The idea behind this year's Social Design Award -- the third year the prize has been given -- is to transform austere patches of asphalt into vibrant, animated streets and to turn residents into true neighbors. We received around 150 submissions from all across Germany, but also from as far afield as China, Russia and Turkey. The 10 best projects chosen by our expert jury are described here in brief.
Now we would like to ask you, our readers, to choose your favorite for the audience prize! You can cast your vote here. Voting came to an end on October 31. The audience award comes with a 2,500-euro prize. The winners will be announced on November 14 on SPIEGEL ONLINE.
Art Spin Berlin
This annual cycling tour has been taking people around the German capital city since 2014. Art Spin Berlin organizes bicycle tours that give riders a chance to learn more about the city and its local artists. Each tour includes five stops to visit art projects that are "unique and important to the neighborhood." The artists produce exclusive works for the Art Spin Tour, and the number of riders - up to 450 - gives them exposure to a broad group of art enthusiasts. The idea originated in Toronto, where Vanessa Brazeau began serving as project coordinator in 2011. She then exported the concept to Berlin, where she organizes the tours together with Iva Kirova, Léna Szirmay-Kalos and Florian Zeller.
The Small Parking Spot Wonder
Stuttgart-based designer Gerhard Werner Wollnitz wants to conquer the streets. And it's simple to do with his proposed "Small Parking-Spot Wonder." The project entails placing a 3.6-meter-long (12-feet-long), hand-pulled cart on the street. It has space for 10 adults or 20 children, who can use it as a meeting point or for shopping trips. Since it is legal under German law to pull a cart in the right lane of a street, Wollnitz believes the handcart can also be parked alongside the road. Given its lack of motor, no parking fees must be paid. Wollnitz has dubbed his handcart the "Safety Car" and the next one is already being built in Cologne.
When kids meet other kids, it usually doesn't take long before they start playing together, but adults simply pass each other by without exchanging a word. Parks offer myriad opportunities for communal play, with their basketball courts, ping-pong tables and space for running, inline skating or games like dodgeball. Using start-up development funds from the European Union and the German parliament, Pascal Floride, Jens Klimmeck, Marko Münnich and Jan-Henrik Stephan are building a digital platform for neighborhood sports. Using a smartphone, people can search for different types of athletic activities, find venues and meet others interested in participating. So-called groundkeepers act as moderators and organizers.
Hassan, who fled from Syria to Berlin, is a talented craftsman. He's good at building wooden furniture, but he also has a knack for providing guidance to those who want to build something themselves. That was sufficient impetus for OMA GmbH, together with the volunteer initiative Konfetti4Change, to plan a creative woodworking shop to be located at the new Holzmarkt development in the city's Friedrichshain district. It will be a place where neighbors, refugees and persons with disabilities can work together, get to know each other and grow into a team. Joint activities at the workshop can be planned and tasks assigned using the Konfetti4Change app. It also rewards participants with "confetti karma points." The finished pieces are meant to help shape public spaces and improve them, as well as to improve coexistence. The social goal of the HolzOMA project is to "break down prejudices and strengthen equal opportunity through joint experiences."
Cars dominate our cities. For traffic to flow, broad streets and plenty of parking spots are a must -- to the point that pedestrians are second-class citizens on our roads. Paula Schuster, Lisa Stohn and Jhu-Ting Yang, who study at the Potsdam University of Applied Sciences, the Berlin Weissensee School of Art and the National Taipei University of Technology respectively, are reimagining our streets from the pedestrian perspective. Their future-oriented Interlace project foresees self-driving automobiles navigating completely level streets, with no sidewalk curbs. As the number of pedestrians moving along the street grows, the narrower the lanes for the self-driving vehicles become, until they are moving along a very narrow corridor. The cars also project their route on the street so that people can tell which direction the vehicle will be moving. "Smart Signs" provide orientation to pedestrians, with information like air-quality and noise-pollution levels. They project information about the street - about infrastructure and public transportation, for example -- and provide tips for sightseeing in the area.
There are many words in German to describe small, standalone convenience stores - Kiosk, Büdchen, Trinkhalle, Wasserhäuschen or Späti. The names may differ by region, but they all sell the same things: beer, chocolate, candy and cigarettes. They're places where people meet up after the supermarkets close in the evening or on Sundays. German store opening hours, which have been liberalized to a considerable extent in recent years, are now imperiling the kiosks' business model. But corner stores hold a potential greater social role than as mere retail spaces - they are the kind of places on your block where you stop to have a chat with your neighbors. Dortmund-based architecture and urban-planning student Marius Westermann wants to add a further dimension to stand-alone kiosks: urban gardening. His design envisions building an open structure that envelops the existing kiosk, with the second floor dedicated to vegetable gardening and the third to raising chickens. The vegetables and eggs produced could then be sold below. "The hope is that a kiosk will not only retain its own regional cultural characteristics," says Westermann, "but that things that are grown vary depending on the region." He has already won a student competition with his design.
How do people who are overlooked get noticed? How do people who live on the same street become neighbors? In Berlin's Schmilkan Street, there's a refugee hostel -- and 10th-graders Pamina Wagner, Lucia Carai and Tabeo Kao want to bring refugees and residents together as neighbors. To do so, they want to draw large format portraits of refugees and neighbors on the wall of an apartment building located next door to the hostel. The girls' project is inspired by Paris artist JR's "Inside Out." As part of his project, large-format portraits are painted on walls which, he says, allow the subjects to make a statement about what they stand for. So far, 260,000 people in 129 countries have participated.
In modern civil societies, citizens help shape their city. To do so, they must engage in dialogue with the authorities and politicians. To facilitate that dialogue, Seray Tolgay, Daniel Swakman and Gizem Çele Ocal have conceived, programmed and, with the help of volunteers, further developed the Muhit platform. The beta version is focused on Istanbul, but the long-term goal is to expand Muhit across Turkey. The platform enables residents to mark places on a map where they believe action needs to be taken. They can, for example, submit proposals for urban furnishings, for unutilized spaces, for parks and public spaces. Other members of the community can then rate those suggestions. Muhtars (as local political representatives are called) can then use voting results to establish priorities and then pass them along to the authorities. Local agencies, in turn, can use the platform to provide information about what action they have taken and the progress they have made on specific projects.
Planting a Tree for Your Child
Along city streets and empty lots, there are numerous fruit and nut trees along with bushes full of berries: hazelnuts, walnuts, blackberries, elder berries, plums, apples and pears. Arugula even grows on street medians. The Mundraub initiative has spent the past few years mapping the locations of these trees and bushes in public spaces to make their fruits available to everyone. Now the group has initiated another project called Nachwuchs, or offspring. The idea is to plant a fruit tree for one's child and give it his or her name. After a donation is received, Mundraub purchases a fruit tree, which parents then plant and dedicate to their child. The parents then become the patrons of the tree and are responsible for its care. An agreement has already been reached with Berlin's Pankow district for 100 of these birthday fruit trees to be planted. Berlin saw the first such tree planted in spring of 2016 and further cities are expected to follow in its footsteps. The new birthday trees will, of course, be entered into the digital Mundraub map.
The Silent Spot
Streets can be loud - very loud. Berlin's Turmstrasse is one such road. It's a four-lane avenue filled with noisy car and truck traffic. Given the stress and annoyance this creates for pedestrians, Nicolas Jacobi and Jacques Philippe Gollnick -- communications design students at the Potsdam University of Applied Sciences -- came up with an idea: Why not create a way to give pedestrians a place where they can rest in peace for a few minutes? They designed the Silent Spot, a silver box lined on the inside with calming green material and a chair. A circular hole in the top opens a view to the sky above. They set up their Silent Spot on Turmstrasse and had the following to say about their experience: "At first the object seemed a little surreal in the public space, but it remained in people's consciousness for some time, along with the intention behind it - that people should be thinking about ways to prevent stress."
Voting came to an end on October 31. The winners will be announced on November 14 on SPIEGEL ONLINE.