Each year, the Design Educates Awards highlight international design projects that tackle context-specific concerns and educate users about sustainability. The awards were set up by the Laka Foundation and were inspired by Dr. Peter Kuczia’s research, Educating Buildings (Bildende Bauten).

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The awards transcend beyond aesthetic value and seek to recognize projects that educate by inspiring change. These changes can be subtle, but the projects play an important role in adopting social, environmental and economic sustainability. In doing so, the winning projects have meaningful impacts on users and the community at large.

Related: eVolo’s 2021 Skyscraper Competition winners focus on sustainable urban design

The Design Educates Awards span over four design categories, namely architectural, product, universal and responsive design. Additional awards include the Emerging Designer Award for a student design project, as well as the Solarlux Choice Award, selected by Solarlux representatives. The project criteria ranges from feasibility to the potential for educational influence.

This year, there were 400 entries from 30 countries, with 43 winners and honorable mentions. The 2022 jury included 15 international experts in various design disciplines, including Professor Toyo Itō, Jette Cathrin Hopp, Professor Mark L. Gardner, Professor Masayo Ave, Senior Professor Ranjana Dani, Aidin Ardjomandi and Dr. Peter Kuczia, among others.

The following is a list of the 2022 Design Educates Awards winners by category.

Architectural Design

Timber bridge with an arched bottom floating over a waterway. A small boat with many people can be seen about to pass under the bridge

Winner 2022: Timber Bridge in Gulao Waterfront by LUO Studio

The project is located in the town of Gulao, China, a small farming and fishing village. Since many abandon the town to seek an urban lifestyle, the bridge provides a balance between rural and urban by constructing a modern structure that uses traditional construction techniques.

Terracotta brick building in front of a tropical forest. The building facade bricks create a perforated pattern. The building is surrounded by a short bamboo fence

Gold Prize: Terra Cotta Studio by Tropical Space

The Terra Cotta Studio in Vietnam is a space for potters to work in and be inspired to create. The patterned brick facade creates various interplays of light and shadow inside. The perforations in the building shell also allow for interactions between the artists and nature, while sheltering from the elements.

Prefabricated buildings made from recycled materials with patterned facades and some barrel vaulted ceilings and flat roofs

Silver Prize: Wiki World Natural Camp by Wiki World

Located on the outskirts of Wuhan, Wiki World put together an education-based campsite. The site consists of prefabricated wooden cabins, public classrooms and space to build architecture using natural materials. This way, the space becomes a place dedicated to education and fosters interaction amongst rural communities and students in collaborative construction.

A triptych of images of buildings in the woods

Bronze Prize: House of Dreams by Insitu Project

The House of Dreams transforms an abandoned cave settlement in China into a rural development training center. The project aims to recover the surrounding caves, revive traditions and skills of the community and materialize collective memories.

Product Design

A tent-like shelter lit up in red. The night sky is lit up with green aurora borealis

Winner 2022: Deployable Emergency Shelter by Henry Glogau Studio

Since sub-zero temperature environments often present hostile conditions, the project proposes a tent-like shelter that harnesses these environmental factors. The Deployable Emergency Shelter is a lightweight structure with an aerodynamic form that disperses strong winds. Inspired by snow caves and igloos, snow gathers in the tent’s mylar pockets and creates a form of insulation, maintaining interior temperatures of up to 37 degrees Celsius warmer than the external conditions.

LOOOP reusable menstrual pads can kit opened up on the left, with someone holding the lid of one of the kits on the right side

Gold Prize: Looop by Cheuk Laam Wong and Central Saint Martins

Often overlooked, period poverty is a major concern for women in refugee camps. To combat this, Looop is a cleaning kit for reusable menstruation pads that uses less than 500 milliliter of water. The kit uses recycled steel cans and polypropylene washing parts. The reusable pads are made from bamboo and polyurethane laminate (PUL) fabrics.

See-Tang biopackaging on the left side next to a red curry on a white plate on the right side of the image

Silver Prize: SeeTang Collection by Jana-Aimée Wiesenberger

SeeTang is a zero-waste bioplastic made from algae, dyed with natural colorants including onion skin, hibiscus, coffee and saffron. Used for various types of food packaging, the internal packing material is edible, while the outer packaging is either reusable or compostable.

Bronze Prize: Canairi by Canairi

Canairi is a CO2 monitor used to measure air quality in interior spaces. When air quality drops, the monitor notifies the user to ventilate the space and re-establish appropriate air quality. This lowers the risk of poor air quality-induced ailments, including headaches and sleep disorders.

Responsive Design

Boy holding up a cup to a solar desalination skylight

Winner 2022: Solar Desalination Skylight by Henry Glogau Studio

The Solar Desalination Skylight is a multi-functional element that harnesses sunlight and seawater, while flooding interiors with natural light. It produces drinking water and a brine solution, used to make salt batteries. The salt batteries can power LED lights at night and can be charged using solar energy from a mini photovoltaic panel.

People sitting under three portable solar water distillers

Gold Prize: Portable Solar Distiller by Henry Glogau Studio

The Portable Solar Distiller uses sunlight to distill between 12 to 18 liters of polluted seawater in 12 hours. The system uses easily-available materials such as plastic tarps and bamboo/timber and can also serve as a rainwater catchment system.

Concrete coastalock elements in rows submerged in seawater

Silver Prize: Coastalock by ECOncrete Tech Ltd

Approximately 70% of all marine infrastructure uses concrete, which is highly toxic for sea creatures. Coastalock uses a patented healthy concrete mixture to create interlocking units that form wave breakers and simultaneously foster marine ecosystems. The units have customizable orientations to suit the ecosystem needs of local sea creatures.

Bronze Prize: 1300 Recycling Pavilion by Hyunjejoo_Baukunst

The project features 1300 semi-transparent baskets that form the pavilion’s structure. By using standard, commercially-available baskets, the pavilion encourages mindfulness of how we use everyday objects and how architecture can adapt to environmental needs by repurposing non-traditional materials.

Universal Design

People walking around and inside BetaPort timber structures

Winner 2022: BetaPort – Circular Building Technology On-Demand by Urban Beta UG

BetaPort is a system that uses modular building blocks, which can react to design requirements such as user capacity and function. The BetaPort configurator is the digital tool that efficiently plans the construction of each space based on its needs. Furthermore, all construction materials are renewable or upcycled to create sustainable, carbon-sink buildings.

Man wearing a bright orange Inxect Suit

Silver Prize: The Inxect Suit by Pavels Liepins-Hedström

The Inxect Suit is a wearable plastic waste management and protein harvesting system. Mealworms live in a habitat inside the suit that uses heat and humidity from the suit-wearer to maintain an ideal colony environment. These worms eat plastic waste, which is not toxic for them, and expand the colony. Thus, the growing colony provides the suit-wearer with valuable protein for consumption.

Installation piece composed of thousands of white linear components in front of a black background

Bronze Prize: Voxel Cloud by Julian Edelmann

The Voxel Cloud explores complex geometries generated by algorithms to try and blend nature and technology. Machines used data-scapes to create a complex scaffold-like structure. Currently, the installation is located in a park in Austria where it will blend into the environment over time.

Additional Awards

Red and clear slide in a large white and red interior cafeteria space. Lots of children have congregated near the bottom of the slide with some children and a teacher seated nearby

Solarlux Choice: GO! Campus Zottegem by Rosan Bosch Studio

The GO! Campus Zottegem is a public school in Belgium, designed to maximize student learning through play. The school has various learning landscapes that encourage exploration and curiosity.

+ Design Educates Awards

Images courtesy of Jin Weiqi, Hiroyuki Oki, Insitu Project, Wu Ting, Henry Glogau Studio, Larry Turner, SeeTang Collection, ECOncrete Tech Ltd, Urban Beta, Studio Naaro, Pavels Liepins-Hedström, and Kim Wendt