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Design for Relief and Resiliency: Structures in Service

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Survey opens October 18th, 2021 and closes at 5:00 p.m. on October 21st

Design for Relief and Resiliency: Structures in Service

This interdisciplinary studio is founded on the basic premise that designers can and must make a difference. This studio will explore the myriad of daunting, but important, design conditions related to the design, fabrication, deployment, and implementation of built environments and objects that can assist in resiliency and / or relief. We will look at ways that design solutions can improve efforts related to food, water, education, health-care, power, and even economic and social issues related to the built environment. It is not simply an exercise in defining a better shelter. We will be looking to create solutions that offer new perspectives on how design might positively contribute to the work.
Like other researchers that assist with humanitarian efforts we will not be directly engaged in actual relief efforts; we aren't trained to do so. But the work MUST be ground in actual, on-going efforts that need a critical design perspective. Relief operations rely heavily upon the availability and usefulness of different resources to help them provide provisions for food, water, and shelter and yet the operational manuals used by most non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and consortiums of non-profit relief agencies have very little information about the actual design of these resources. In this studio we will be identifying and joining ongoing efforts to improve humanitarian efforts and/or to create more resilient built environments; we innovate by problem-solving through design, with an emphasis on physical prototyping.
You will be expected to engage in high level research, productive design inquiries, and an advanced testing/prototyping protocol. This studio will be a hands-on, production-oriented class, focused on the challenges that come with prototyping our proposed solutions (e.g., products, objects, spaces, or mechanisms to assist in operations). We will produce a series of large-scale prototypes. Final work will be consolidated into a design manual to be submitted to real-world NGOs. Construction experience isn't a pre-requisite before enrollment but everyone will participate during the semester.

Course Credit
  • 6
Iowa State University Innovate @ Iowa State
  • Social Entrepreneurship
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
  • Good Health and Well-Being
  • Gender Equality
  • Clean Water and Sanitation
  • Affordable and Clean Energy
  • Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • Sustainable Cities and Communities
Will this course be cross-listed?


Days/times for the course

MWF 1:10-5:20pm

Suggested course fee


Course fee justification

Common fund for final physical prototypes.

Teaching faculty name(s)


All ISU Majors
  • Seniors and graduate students
Maximum enrollment