Arch + Eng, Design, Education

Announcing the 2016 Fuller Challenge Student Category Winner

September 14, 2016, New York City – The Buckminster Fuller Institute is pleased to announce the winner of the student category of the 2016 Fuller Challenge: The Center for Human Habitat and Alternative Technology (CHHAT) at Vadodara Design Academy in Gujarat, India, submitted by Sapan Hirpara. CHHAT is a student initiative that explores, incubates, and disseminates strategies for the built environment through a collaborative design-build process in order to meet real, contextual needs.

CHHAT began as an academic experiment and evolved into a student-led initiative. The students collaboratively extend theoretical design principles into real-life design-build exercises in order to create user-friendly, environmentally sensitive, energy efficient, and economically viable structural solutions for human shelter. During the design-build process, the students involve local craftsmen in a participatory effort. The resulting structures are lightweight tents and domes made of natural, local, or recycled materials that can be deployed as adaptable modules.

The structures are meant to meet immediate needs on the Vadodara Design Academy campus, but the CHHAT team also aspires to meet real-life rural, urban, and emergency shelter requirements. In particular, the CHHAT team has determined that these shelters can serve as: temporary and economical space for agrarian activities (livestock habitats, food or fodder storage); temporary shelter for residents of informal urban areas; emergency shelter after disasters; and temporary or permanent spaces for communal activities at schools, medical camps, or exhibition spaces.

CHHAT involves students from each cohort of the five-year program at Vadodara Design Academy, as well as mentors from the academic and professional realm. The student volunteers are the backbone of our projects and the carriers of our ideology,” said Professor Nirav Hirpara, Director of Vadodara Design Academy and CHHAT project lead.

The Dymaxion House and geodesic structures are ideas that have outlived Buckminster Fuller’s mortal life. Our work is deeply inspired by his principles, as we put all of our efforts towards the benefit of society. The Challenge has provided a platform to frame our work and ideas,” said Co-founder Sapan Hirpara, who advises CHHAT and is currently a student at CEPT University in Ahmedabad, India.

This student project embodies the integration of anticipatory and participatory design with appropriate technology solutions. CHHAT attempts to find a ‘universal building solution’ while remaining attuned to place-sourced materials. Buckminster Fuller held that ‘philosophy, to be effective, must be mechanically applied.’ CHHAT provides a compelling demonstration of how students are achieving this in real-world,” said BFI Board Chair Dr. David McConville.

This is the first year that the Fuller Challenge program reviewed student entries separately from the general pool and selected a student winner. CHHAT was selected amongst dozens of entries as best fitting the seven Fuller Challenge criteria: visionary, comprehensive, anticipatory, ecologically responsible, feasible, verifiable, and replicable. BFI is pleased to identify and publicize this outstanding student initiative.

Questions about the student category of the Fuller Challenge program can be directed to [email protected].