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Students among world's best in design competition

December 15, 2004

A computer-generated rendering of the "Turtle Tower," one of the playground elementsToday's designers, educators and students must take notice of changing demographics as well as environmental and economic realities of the 21st century, creating designs that are respectful of cultures outside the mainstream Western, industrialized urban societies. Two student teams from SFSU have responded to this challenge successfully by creating a design for a sustainable community center to serve the needs of two communities, in Haiti and Indonesia.

"Water and Play" -- a design proposed by Jane Rabanal, Larice Magpiong and Cory Bloome that brings together a water collection system and a play environment for children of the Bolosse community in Port-Au-Prince, the capital of Haiti -- placed among the three top finalists of the International Student Design Competition. The competition is part of the program of Designing for the 21st Century III, a leading international conference on universal design held in Rio de Janeiro from Dec. 7-12.

The second SFSU team -- Tasya Nuarta, Charina Venturina, Patrick Horn and Philip Meakin -- placed in the top 14. The team designed a medical training facility for a community in Bali, Indonesia. According to Ricardo Gomes, chair of the competition, 11 out of the 14 winners were from outstanding architectural programs from around the world. More than 200 teams from 41 countries participated in the competition.

A computer-generated rendering of the award-winning design for a community center and accessible playgroundThe teams were challenged to design a community center in Haiti, Brazil, India or a location of their choice. The designs had to be universally accessible, ecologically sustainable and cost effective. Teams also had to take into account local demographics, while creating a design that was creative, innovative and would improve the well-being of the community.

According to Rabanal's team, only half of Haiti's population of 8 million has access to safe water, and 42 percent of Haitians are under 15 years of age.

"We wanted to bring water to the community, not just in a practical sense for daily use, but also for children's play and education," said Rabanal, a graduate student in design and industry.

The team's community center design included a comprehensive water collection system and a playground that was simple, safe and inclusive of all children, regardless of their disabilities.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for our students to present their work in an international arena," said Gomes, chair of the Design and Industry Department.

The project was part of the course requirement in Design II: Product Design and Development, taught by Ben Chia of Pentagram Design.

"Students in my design class started the semester without any knowledge of universal design, but with an effective design process and constant polishing of design skill, the students are able to not only finish the project, but also achieve the desired result," Chia said.

Although there are no plans to build the designs, the students remain excited and proud of their accomplishments.

"People are shocked at what we're capable of," said senior Magpiong. "SF State is somewhat an underdog when it comes to design schools, so getting this recognition from an international competition has been amazing."

The top 14 teams, including both teams from SFSU, will be featured in an article in Metropolis magazine.

-- Student Writer Audrey Tang with Matt Itelson


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Last modified December 15, 2004 by University Communications