Ball-Eastaway House, Glen Murcutt Architect
I’m finishing a grant application this weekend. I have gathered together some Appropriate Technology Collaborative volunteers and designers and asked for their responses to the list of questions we have to answer. I was amazed by this exercise. I have a clear vision of what we do, whom we serve and how we get the job done, but hearing about our work from others who put in the time, sweat the details and get projects completed was an eye opening experience.
One of the deep questions we discussed was why we do what we do. For the most part we are designers. ATC has engineers, architects, professors, social scientists and teachers all working hard to create new sustainable, environmentally preferable technologies for people who make less than $2.00 per day. We have designed some pretty cool things, and the pipeline is full with new projects.
I think we do what we do because the purpose of design is to improve life. Everyone has a desire to create good in this world, but real life doesn’t offer many opportunities. ATC is a place where people come together to create a better world, and ATC is growing. In addition to our core staff of volunteer engineers and designers, we have student design teams at Michigan State University, The University of Michigan, and students in Paris and Chicago all working on designs to improve the quality of life for people living at the bottom of the economic pyramid.
We find projects by creating long term relationships with communities in the developing world. I believe that only by listening and observing life, and living close to the people we serve can we find what people need, what they can afford and what will make their lives better.
I think the experience of working on real design problems, with very real and very constraining design criteria makes better designers. I know the experience of working on a project that will help people in distant parts of the world creates a bond between designer and the place, people and culture they serve.