Winner and Finalists – 2016 Fuller Challenge

Next Edition:  If you want to know about the 2017 Fuller Challenge click here.

On October 2016, The Buckminster Fuller Institute announced the six Finalists of its 2016 Fuller Challenge Edition. One of the projects, Waterbanks by PitchAfrica, was built in Kenya, and it is such an example of extraordinary beauty. In all the aspects of the word. In December, the Winner was decided. The Prize was not for a project in Africa, but we hope that on this next 2017 Fuller Challenge more african designers will be presenting wonderful proposals.

The Winner and Finalists of the 2016 Fuller Challenge are:

Winner: The Rainforest Solutions Project

Courtesy of Buckminster Fuller Institute

“[Design Science is] the effective application of the principles of science to the conscious design of our total environment in order to help make the Earth’s finite resources meet the needs of all humanity without disrupting the ecological processes of the planet” –R. Buckminster Fuller

The Rainforest Solutions Project is a unique and innovative coalition consisting of Greenpeace, Sierra Club BC, and Stand (formerly ForestEthics) and a project of Tides Canada Initiative. For almost 2 decades, they have had a singular mission of “pioneering collaboration between deeply divergent interests (government, First Nations, environmentalists and logging companies) in the Great Bear Rainforest to develop a world-leading legal and process framework called Ecosystem Based Management supported by all the parties.” The decades-long struggle culminated in one of the most extraordinary conservation, social justice, and indigenous rights victories in recent memory: a historic 250-year agreement between the parties to conserve 85% and sustainably manage the 15-million acre Great Bear Rainforest, the largest old growth temperate rainforest on the planet.


The 2016 Buckminster Fuller Challenge Finalists include:

Cooperación Comunitaria

Courtesy of Buckminster Fuller Institute

We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims. [The challenge is] to make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time, with spontaneous cooperation and without ecological damage or disadvantage of anyone.” –R. Buckminster Fuller

Cooperación Comunitaria is implementing a comprehensive model to radically improve the living conditions of marginalized populations in Mexico by working with communities to rebuild their homes—combining sound geological and engineering risk analysis with local indigenous wisdom. The project leaders engage with local people in the placement, design, and building of affordable, seismically sound, eco-friendly, culturally appropriate dwellings using local materials. In addition to their efforts in the built environment, Cooperación Comunitaria works on education and training programs, sustainable economic development through agroforestry and agro-ecological projects, as well as the revival and revitalization of local indigenous culture, including its herbal and medical traditions. This exemplary, multi-faceted initiative combines science and local traditions in a comprehensive approach community resilience.

CommuniTree by Taking Root

Courtesy of Buckminster Fuller Institute

When individuals join in a cooperative venture, the power generated far exceeds what they could have accomplished acting individually.” –R. Buckminster Fuller

CommuniTree is a simple but practical, well-executed approach to tackling three interlinked problems: deforestation, climate change, and poverty. The project ingeniously connects the dots around CO2 reduction and the generation of sustainable, local economies through a multi-faceted reforestation program. The sale of carbon credits and sustainable wood products serve as financial mechanisms to support widespread reforestation by small, stakeholder farmers in areas vulnerable to the effects of climate change in Nicaragua. Because of the immense acreage of degraded agricultural lands around the world, this approach has the potential to be emulated widely and to contribute greatly to global carbon sequestration, as well as to habitat restoration and poverty alleviation.

Waterbank Schools by PITCHAfrica

Courtesy of Buckminster Fuller Institute

If we do more with less, our response will be adequate to take care of everybody.” –R. Buckminster Fuller

PITCHAfrica identifies the need for water as a critical global problem, and transforms community dynamics by offering an elegantly simple solution. In a nested way, this design intervention is at once a social, educational, medical, environmental, and economic intervention. The model takes a common architectural form and adds a trimtab: water catchment and filtration systems that transform the use of the structure, makes certain behaviors obsolete, and directly addresses the lack of a critical resource. Embedded in this new model is the understanding that community values are a top priority, from who builds the actual structure to its use for numerous activities.

Una Hakika by the Sentinel Project

Courtesy of Buckminster Fuller Institute

If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.” –R. Buckminster Fuller

The Sentinel Project has developed Una Hakika: a hybrid of communications technology, social insight, and beneficial use of social media. The project leverages both online and offline “informational architecture” to de-escalate conflict in regions where misinformation can lead to violence or genocide. Interethnic and inter-communal violence is often dramatically exacerbated by inflammatory rumors. The Una Hakika pilot project quickly and effectively uses all available communication tools–including village councils, mobile phones, radio, print, and one-on-one conversation–to defuse conflict, with projects operating on the ground in both Kenya and Myanmar.

The Urban Death Project

“A new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” –R. Buckminster Fuller. 

The Urban Death Project (UDP) has designed a scalable, regenerative death care model based on the natural process of decomposition. In the Recomposition centers that the UDP envisions, bodies and forest waste are composted and transformed into soil. These centers are hybrid public park, funeral home, and memorial space, with the potential to be situated in repurposed urban infrastructure. The Recomposition process eliminates the need for the millions of feet of hardwood, tons of concrete, gallons of toxic embalming fluids, and land required for traditional funerary practices (burial or cremation), while giving back to the earth with nutrient compost. The Urban Death Project’s solution to today’s toxic, $20 billion funeral industry presents a new model of death care that is both human- and nature-centric.


About the organiser: 


Launched in 2007, the Fuller Challenge has defined an emerging field of practice: the whole systems approach to understanding and intervening in complex and interrelated crises for wide-scale social and environmental impact. The entry criteria have established a new framework through which to identify and measure effective, enduring solutions to global sustainability’s most entrenched challenges. The rigorous selection process has set a unique standard, gaining renown as “Socially-Responsible Design’s Highest Award.”The Fuller Challenge attracts bold, visionary, tangible initiatives focused on a well-defined need of critical importance. Winning solutions are regionally specific yet globally applicable and present a truly comprehensive, anticipatory, integrated approach to solving the world’s complex problems.

“We are coming to an era the likes of which we’ve never seen before, we’re in the whitewaters of human history. We don’t know what lies ahead. Bucky Fuller’s ideas on design are at the core of any set of solutions that will take us to calmer waters.”

                                                                                                – David Orr


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For further information about the Fuller Challenge, check out their website.

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