The SOM Foundation has recently announced the winners of the 2022 Research Prize and 2022 European Research Prize, culminating in a process that annually honors the most groundbreaking investigations into the built environment on two continents.
A team of researchers from Yale and the University of Houston was joined by a team from Carnegie Mellon University for the $40,000 Research Prize, which this year centered around the topic titled “Shaping Our World Through Air.”
The American team’s proposal called, "Collective Comfort: Framing the Cooling Center as a Resiliency and Educational Hub for Communities in Desert Cities," was led by Yale SoA’s Liz Gálvez and Dalia Munenzon of the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture & Design at the University of Houston,
Their research focused on an apparatus that cities as far afield as Paris have employed recently within traditionally hotter settings, with the dual aims of reframing centers both as educational hubs and bringing "education on heat risk and weatherization efforts to the forefront" in order to "destabilize" fossil fuel reliant models of single-family residences.
Jury member Daniel A. Barber stated, "Their framing of the cooling center as both a place for heat relief and for education promises to bring this spatial and organizational intelligence to a broader public—a project not only conceptually rich but also eminently practical and possible."
They were joined by the Carnegie Mellon team’s proposal, “Taking Back the Air: Collective Learning, Advocacy, and Design for a Healthy Environment.” Led by Nida Rehman, the team looked toward spatial design pedagogy to ascertain how best to meet environmental justice demands within community-based design projects.
Barber said it "builds on the researchers’ commitment to community engagement and offers a new approach to architecture’s social role amidst the exigencies of the climate emergency—at once spatial, collaborative, and focused on communities and the narratives that resonate with them," adding that the "project’s Atmospheric Justice Curriculum and Archive of Air will [be] a rich resource for practitioners, scholars, and teachers."
Finally, the Foundation’s €20,000 European Research Prize went to a group from the Belgian Université Catholique de Louvain. Their project titled, "Air de jeux: Protecting Children from Air Pollution by Designing Urban Environmental Installations," will lead to several installations that mitigate air pollution for children in cities with the help of local governments and colleagues from Vrije Universiteit Brussels.
"'Air de jeux' is an interdisciplinary research project that also proposes design strategies in partnership with universities, enterprises, local government, and nongovernmental organizations," juror Aseem Inam commented finally. "In addition, it investigates the vital intersection of air quality, urban settings, and children’s health. I certainly look forward to the outcomes of this project."
More information about each winning proposal can be found here.
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