Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Zombie Safe House Competition

No one would doubt that the zombie apocalypse is likely to be rather conflictual, and design challenges are almost a game, so on that admittedly tenuous note PAXsims once again indulges its fondness for zombie preparedness exercises with a pointer to the annual Zombie Safe House Competition, sponsored by Architects Southwest. As a recent article in The Economist notes:

THE streets are full of lurching, brain-hungry zombies and humanity faces extinction. Should you run for your life or stand your ground? Luckily, bespectacled men and woman who stare at blueprints have already started thinking about it. Architects are designing zombie-proof housing for Zombie Safe House, a design competition, now in its third year. It was originally devised by a trio of designers at Architects Southwest, an architectural firm in Louisiana, as an informal platform for colleagues to showcase their creative talents in a “pragmatically unconstrained format”, says co-founder Shea Trahan. It now attracts hundreds of students, practicing architects, industrial designers and artists from around the globe looking for an inventive way to boost their portfolios.

More broadly, the competition highlights how these kinds of scenario-based exercises can be used as a way to encourage innovation and creative thinking:

By using the apocalypse as a thought experiment competitors can identify the issues that impact all architectural design, and plan for real-world disasters, such as surviving when power, water, or sewerage is cut off. “The designers have to stretch their imaginations to see what kinds of design might be required for extreme circumstances”, says Michael McClure, a professor of architecture at the University of Louisiana and a judge on last year’s panel. “This takes the ideas of ‘off the grid’ and ‘sustainability’ to great lengths”, helping to push the boundaries and envision how we might live if our modern conveniences were stripped from us. “Sustainability is currently a huge issue due to concerns about climate change and rising energy costs,” says Mr Jordan. If humans can be shown to be self-sufficient in a design such as Look Out House then “certainly we can reduce energy consumption in the here and now,” he says.

You’ll find the website for the competition here, with the winning 2011 entries featured. Information on the 2012 edition will be released shortly—for more information, visit the competition Facebook page. (Image above: The 2011 winner, by Austin Fleming).

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