SDG#11: Sustainability Through Social Innovation
As a society, we recognize there are many issues today that undoubtedly require our attention. Amidst the rising need to develop creative solutions, social innovation is not only essential, but also gives us the ability to design a world we want to survive and thrive in.
Using expansive ideas, we are able to transform the way we define society with the goal of moving towards compassion, equality and harmony. With a similar vision, the UN has created seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
These goals, which range from ending hunger to climate action, are meant to contribute to the betterment of our world. Sustainable Cities and Communities, SDG #11, addresses the need for our cities and communities to be designed and built sustainably.
How can we use design to contribute to the wellbeing of our communities and the health of our planet? One approach is to look to our environment as a model. Somehow, nature manages to efficiently recycle its resources all while captivating an audience with its remarkable beauty.
Architects from around the world have absorbed Earth’s wisdom by using innovative solutions to merge nature into their designs. We must admit, the results are spectacular.
Stefano Boeri Architetti, a company based out of Milan, created the vertical forest, where nature and urbanism fuse together. In this building, residents live with nature, rather than against it. Boeri reaches the sustainable cities and communities goal with their Vertical Foresting Manifesto. Their projects are directly tackling our environmental crisis while also bringing beauty into each city they reside in.
Boeri labels his vertical forests as ever-changing landmarks because it’s trees transform with the seasons. Communities then have the ability and honor to experience their cities as they change with them. In addition to the allure, the projects are decreasing energy consumption with solar panels and reducing pollution by increasing O2 and absorbing CO2.
In Lebanon, Banque Libano Française (BLF), designed by Snøhetta, is creating a social impact, incorporating and encouraging diversity by connecting with surrounding neighborhoods. Through urban integration, this ‘Magic Box’ is strategically designed to welcome the public with their cafe on the main floor and also maintain privacy for bank offices upstairs. The design includes three openings all-around so that it can be pleasantly viewed from all angles.
Along with urban integration, they are also becoming LEED certified, featuring their ability to multiply green spaces and have renewable energy production. BLF, with the help of Snøhetta, is implementing SDG#11 by bridging the gap between organizations and the local community while also making their city a better place to be. That is, both on an environmental and on a collective level.
Meanwhile, in Singapore, Safdie Architects has brought sustainable design to life by converting the Jewel Changi Airport into an interactive garden. The airport encompasses the Rain Vortex, a massive 40-metre waterfall. Its collected rain water is then used to irrigate the plants in the garden.
If this isn’t enough, the space also contains nets and slides for those who wish to quite literally interact with the nature surrounding them. Through innovative strategy, Safdie Architects have created an interactive, environmentally–conscious and visually pleasing airport. One that embodies a sense of connectedness with its living environment and community.
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are coming to life through cutting edge solutions and designs of innovative and conscious companies. We can see that Boeri’s Vertical Forest-ing beautifully aligns with SDG #11 by contributing to the creation of new sustainable urban ecosystems.
As a member of the corporate sector, BLF is setting the stage for a new way of connecting corporations to community. With the power of urban integration and social innovation, the ‘Magic Box’ is changing the way communities interact with their cities. Safdie’s living airport emphasizes humans’ need for nature by connecting people to the environment through interaction and play. With this interactive and eco-friendly airport, the community is connecting with nature and the building while supporting sustainable design.
In order to tackle our climate and biodiversity crises and allow our communities’ well-being to take precedence, we must look to sustainable innovators leading the way in creating more conscious cities. We need to shift how we view and define society through social innovation, by rethinking the relationship between communities and cities.1.7
One does not need to be an architect to make a social impact. What we need are leaders, game-changers and creatives. We are yearning for innovators to step up and build a world where all beings are not only able to survive, but also thrive. Let’s design our future, together.