• The Second Human City Design Award: Sharing and Encouraging the Power of Design to Transform Cities


    - 99 submissions from 31 countries were received despite the ongoing pandemic, 81 of which were from oversea. Among them, 10 finalists that proposed the direction for future design and transformed living conditions in cities were selected.

    - Farm Cultural Park’s “Countless Cities” received the honor of Grand Prize for reviving the Italian village of Favara through the power of design during the award ceremony held on March 8.


    Fig. 1 A group photo of overseas participants (online) and VIPs (offline; acting mayor of Seoul, members of the Seoul Metropolitan Council, and ambassadors to Korea)


    □ Hosted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and organized by the Seoul Design Foundation, the Human City Design Award (HCDA) celebrates design projects—more specifically, their designers or organizations—that demonstrate the value delivered by the power of design: building harmony between people and nature and thereby transforming cities for a future sustainable society.


    □ The HCDA awards projects that not just provide ideas for addressing problems facing people in cities but put those ideas to work, thereby spreading the power of design. The grand prize funds of KRW 100 million are re-invested in design-related activities for people-centric cities. The first award ceremony held in 2019 named the Dunoon Learning and Innovation Project, which designed a multi-use cultural facility to provide a new future for underprivileged children in South Africa, as the winning entry out of 75 submissions from 25 countries.


    □ The second HCDA held in 2020 garnered global attention despite the ongoing pandemic, receiving 99 submissions from 31 countries. The contested works include tiles made of discarded mussel shells, an industrial design that benefited both the environment and the lives of local residents in Maceió, Brazil; a charnel house, which is usually associated with negative emotions, that turned into a space of comfort where people share their emotions in Korea; and a whole-town-design that revitalized local economy by renovating vacant houses into a hotel in Japan. Each project presented creativity and diversity through its future-oriented design. More information on the 10 finalists can be found on the HCDA’s official website.



    Fig. 2 Panorama of 2020 Human City Design Award Ceremony at D-Forest of DDP (Dongdaemun Design Plaza)


    □ Renowned juries at home and abroad including Charles Landry (UK), author of The Creative City: A Toolkit for Urban Innovators, and Lu Xiaobo (China), dean of Tsinghua University’s Academy of Arts and Design, engaged in 3 rounds of screening to nominate 10 projects for the Grand Prize: 2 from Europe, 3 from America, and 5 from Asia. The design’s positive impact on a desirable direction for future cities and the lives of communities as well as its potential to expand globally were taken into consideration during the selection process.

    ○ The juries held intensive discussions to select the Grand Prize winner for the 2020 HCDA. Majority of them showed no hesitation to nominate “Countless Cities,” recognizing it as a social design solution that demonstrates how the transformation of a small city can yield global impact.


     Fig. 3 Andrea Bartoli’s Family of ‘Farm Cultural Park’ (the winner of 2020 HCDA) and Ambassador Federico Failla of Embassy of Italy


    □ The Grand Prize went to Farm Cultural Park’s “Countless Cities,” a biennale social design project held in Favara, a rural village in Sicily. Many houses in the village were dilapidated and abandoned due to mafia issues and underdevelopment in the region, and Farm Cultural Park turned them into museums for contemporary art exhibitions and spaces for community interaction. They also serve as a venue for discussions on ways for people to improve the cities in which they live, the outcome of which is shared with cities across the world and their experts, designers, and artists. The project brought young people back to the village and proposed the course of direction for future urban society. Farm Cultural Park received KRW 100 million in prize money.

    ○ Head of the Selecting Committee Charles Landry complimented the project highly for being an outstanding example of public design. “Farm Cultural Park is an astonishing achievement has revitalized a whole town through artistically inspired regeneration. 10 years ago there were no visitors to Favara, now there are over 100,000; there were 6 beds to stay now 600. It has set up the Society for the Common Good to use a proportion of the town's savings of inhabitants to reinvest in the town. Increasingly seen as a model to revitalization internationally.”

    ○ In his livestreamed acceptance speech, Andrea Bartoli of Farm Cultural Park gave a reminder about how design for people-centric cities ought to transform the lives of those from all walks of life. “We are very happy to receive this very prestigious award. It means a lot to the community and city of Favara. Being a Human City is our permanent goal for us using art, culture and education; to take care of the children, teenagers and elders is our mission.” He also mentioned that the design process is made possible with the help of various partners. “We tried to do this day after day taking inspiration from artists, architects, curators, academics and entrepreneurships from other cities and communities to share their experience to improve the living conditions of our cities in different scales.”

    ○ Ambassador Federico Failla of Italy, who attended the offline ceremony to receive the award on behalf of the Italian team, stressed that design has the power to transform people’s lives. “It’s a very important project because this important project reuses some existing space to give new value to something that already exists. Design is one of the expressions of culture that makes life better for every human being.”


    □ In recognition of its excellent designs, Seoul was appointed as the World Design Capital title holder and a UNESCO City of Design in 2010. The city also received the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize, which is given to the role model for megacities, in 2018 in addition to several other international awards. Seoul has ceaselessly taken interest in changing lives by addressing problems facing people in cities. And through the HCDA, Seoul has now become an award-giving city rather than being just a recipient. The award is an expression of the commitment to address problems confronting not only Seoul but also the world; Design is the most specific way to realize that task.


    □ Among 99 submissions from 31 countries, 83 were from regions other than Korea which demonstrates that the spirit of HCDA and its brand awareness have grown globally in just two years. Although the 10 finalists, juries, and members of the steering committee could not be invited to the offline ceremony due to COVID-19, livestreaming of the event enabled a greater number of overseas participants to make virtually attendance. Ambassadors representing the countries of the finalists accepted the awards on their behalf and delivered messages of encouragement. Extended social distancing measures forced the offline function to be postponed to March and invite only a limited number of distinguished guests. Nevertheless, 4 members of the Seoul Metropolitan Council, including the chairperson, and 14 leading figures of the design community graced the event with their presence and showed interest in the international award that seeks to identify and resolve great and small problems encountered by urban society.

    ○ “Airborne.bdg project has brought pride not only to the residents in Bandung but also to all Indonesians,” said Ambassador Umar Hadi of Indonesia, speaking of the emotional impact of design.

    ○ “Initiatives like the Human City Design Awards make cities a better place to live,” said Ambassador Luís Henrique Sobreira Lopes of Brazil. “Many lives were impacted by the projects that promote inclusion and integration. I hope that even more designers are inspired and motivated by these solutions all over the world,” he added, resonating with the global relevance of the 10 finalist projects.

    ○ Ambassador Juan Carlos Caiza Rosero of Colombia, who also attended the 2019 award ceremony, recognized HCDA as a well-prepared global award through his comment: “It was one of the functions that I definitely wanted to attend this year.”


    □ All related information including the award ceremony, the documentary on HCDA aired on JTBC, and call for entries for the 2021 HCDA will continue to be posted on the official website.