What does 'design for a better world' mean?
Nadi’s principal and founder Emeka Nnadi answered this exact question in his article, appropriately titled What does it mean to design for a better world? So, instead of recapping his well-written piece, here are a few highlights on what design for a better world means to the staff at Nadi:
Design for a better world means designing spaces and places that allows both the individual and the community to feel empowered and proud to belong, to engage in life-long learning and imparting knowledge and traditions to the next generation, and to promote well-being (mind, body and spirit).
Design for a better world means creating "eco-friendly" spaces and places that can enrich people's lives, give them good experiences (visual, auditory and olfactory), provide them with enjoyment, reducing their stress.
Design for a better world means to share the creative experience with the community, finding together a unique solution for every challenge. Focusing on global goals like climate change and sustainability but taking action in the local context to support the development of each community in a respectful way towards the environment, the cultural heritage and residents.
Design for a better world means inclusive and accessible design for everyone, access to green space and public space, resilient and sustainable infrastructure, low to minimal environmental impact, an innovation that challenges our notion of design, and “people-first places”.
Design for a better world means thoughtful and well-executed design that encourages people to spend more time outside.
Design for a better world in its broadest form means to intentionally co-exist in harmony with nature and other human beings. It also means finding incremental solutions, practical innovations, and improvements that enhance people’s lives, address social, economic or environmental problems, and open up possibilities for a better experience. The essence of design for a better world is ultimately creating a more vibrant, just, resilient and sustainable society.
Design for a better world means re in-stilling hope by designing spaces that promote social change/equality, empower communities and improve the quality of life of individuals.
Why is it Nadi’s mission statement?
At Nadi, design for a better world is what we strive to do. We’re idealistic reformers, looking to new resilient and sustainable practices and technology to ensure our projects don’t produce negative impacts on the environment, the communities and the people they are built to serve.
Our diverse staff also supports this mission statement. It provides us with the ability to approach design in an intersectional way, taking into consideration different methods and processes that produce more inclusive and accessible work that also honours the genius loci of the place. “Environmental designers need to be aware that they are not ‘cosmetic surgeons’ and enhancing the standards of living does not involve changing or remodelling the identity or sense of place within these communities,” writes Nadi intern, Akum Maduka. “Although their intentions are inherently good, human beings want and need to feel a sense of belonging within their environments.”
How do we apply ‘design for a better world’ to our projects?
Applying practices such as incorporate ecological and historical conservation, adaptive reuse, restorative design and resilient and sustainable technologies is essential to our mission statement, but it really starts with the designer.
For each project, we often assemble a different team, and it’s up to the project lead to ensure the design does not negatively interfere with the environment or the community. The best way to illustrate our commitment to design for a better world is to highlight three projects which did just that:
The Creamery Reuse Study
We conducted a study to determine what the best use of the vacant land would be. We then hosted a public engagement session with key stakeholders to gather design ideas and draw out the critical site and programmatic requirements, setting the evaluation criteria that would help determine the best design solution. Through the public engagement session, we identified four programmatic themes: a commercial and residential development, a public park and pavilion or a development dedicated to new technologies and sustainable research. We further explored and developed these ideas, evaluating their potential and referencing the criteria that the stakeholder’s established for the project.
Sage Creek Village Centre
Inspired by small and large-scale commercial design, residential mixed-use developments and a variety of multi-family developments, we created a framework that encompassed over 60-acres of land. We created an eclectic style where each unit’s entrance and the facade was different and distinguished from the units beside it. To achieve this, we used a variety of materials and finishes, such as lighting, canopies, and the use of dominant colours and materials. We defined land-use categories, building typologies and street-scape massing into a cohesive village of architectural expression. Sage Creek has become one of Winnipeg fastest-growing neighbourhoods, boasting high standards of livability, walkability and comfort.
We worked alongside engineers, LEED consultants, architects and interior designers to complete the design and satisfy the requirements to ensure a LEED Gold Building status. 240Fourth is Yellowquill First Nations’ second urban reserve in Saskatoon, SK, and positioned as the gateway for the downtown hub of the city. The building’s fourth floor included a private 200 square metre patio where half of the space needed soft landscaping to satisfy LEED requirements. We designed rolling mounds on the green roof between the seating areas and the edge of the patio. Moreover, we incorporated sustainable and resilient plantings to enhance the space for small gatherings and events. As 240Fourth is located one city block away from the South Saskatchewan River and the Meewasin Trail, we included an ample seating area and outdoor boardroom for people to take advantage of the stunning views. In addition to the green roof, we designed an outdoor space for the first floor to accommodate amenities such as a café, retail areas and a restaurant with a patio. We also developed a smaller private terrace for the fifth floor that looks out onto Fourth Street.
How can we work together to make the world a better place?
When Nadi works with clients, we look at their mission, values and purpose to determine whether they’re a good fit. Our goal is to minimize our projects’ impact on the environment and create spaces that are inclusive and accessible to everyone.
We are mindful of climate change and how it affects our planet. Every project we undertake reflects this sentiment. While the budget is almost always the most critical facet of a project, we always try to explore options with our clients that include resilient and sustainable processes, practices and technologies. This often saves our clients’ money and time in the long-term as the deterioration from the effects of climate change are minimal.
Moreover, working together to make the world a better place is not about just about new, fancy pieces of infrastructure or developments—it’s about examining the old and adapting it.
However, while making the world a better place is protecting and preserving our planet, it’s also, as mentioned earlier, the importance of intersectional design. When we design, we think about accessibility for those living with disabilities, we think about the genius loci of a place and how the culture is integral to the finished work.
We also think about how people will use the space—will it bring the community joy? Happiness? Contentment? These thoughts and questions act as a synergy within our design process, influencing how we work from the project’s conceptualization to realization.
Working with our clients, we explore these topics and ask these questions to determine the best course of action for each project. We must provide the best service for our clients and the best tools to ensure their project succeeds once our role is complete. It’s our promise.
Do you have a project you would like to discuss? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be in touch!