Dear colleagues and students,
Amid the deafening buzz about digital fabrication, you must have wondered about its relevance and value to the most pressing problems facing the people at the “Base of the Pyramid,” in all parts of the resource-challenged world. If you did, please consider writing for the following session at the 100th ACSA Annual Meeting in 2012.
Call for Papers
Submission Deadline: September 14, 2011 (But don’t wait!)
Click here for complete submission requements and deadlines.
100_6: DIGITAL GEO-POLITICS
At the Base of the Pyramid: Digital Design and Manufacturing for Extreme Affordability
Mahesh Daas, Ball State U.
Over 4,000,000,000 people live on less than 4 dollars a day. That is 68% of the world’s population. The advanced markets in the West consist of 0.75 billion people, or a whopping 2% of the world’s population. In a few more decades, world population is projected to cross 9,000,000,000 and a large portion of the people living at the Base of the Pyramid. While we often hear about only the social justice and moral arguments about the need to address the needs of the people at the “Base of the Pyramid,” C. K. Prahalad, Mohammad Yunus and others have convincingly demonstrated that the markets at the “Base of the Pyramid” are viable and dynamic markets full of social entrepreneurial potential. The need is there as well as the opportunity. Now we turn to the world of architecture.
Digital design, performance simulation and manufacturing technologies have been buzz words of late in the architectural circles, at least in the West. So far, much of the design and research in these areas within has been aimed at mature and resource-rich markets in highly developed countries that are at the top 2% of the world’s economy. Despite significant advances in manufacturing, business modeling, “reverse innovation” and logistics in general, architectural world remains largely aimed at producing one-off pieces in and for resource-rich markets. Affordability–let alone extreme affordability–remains largely missing from current discourses in architecture. Further, even within USA, there exists a need for extreme affordability in what is now being defined as the “fourth world.” As Vijay Govindarajan pointed out, “reverse innovation” (innovation in developing world for developing and developed world) has been gaining momentum, particularly in China and India. While there exist plenty of examples in the industrial and consumer product design domains, we are hard-pressed to find even a handful of examples of innovation for extreme affordability in architecture. Despite all the talk about mass customization, architectural designers seem to place more importance on the “customization” part while ignoring the “mass” part. Moreover, there is a paucity of research on strategies and tactics of how to reach billions of people in the developing world through innovation (not just invention or wild speculation) in all aspects of architecture.
The session invites papers addressing the questions of relevance, means, and methods. What are the technological and design problems of manufacturing buildings or building components or related products for extreme affordability? What are the impediments and opportunities in pursuing innovation for extreme affordability? What are some of the immediate and long term design research questions? How can these questions be integrated into architectural curricula? How can these questions address opportunities for mainstream or alternative professional practices? What are some successful examples that made a difference and hold potential to reach millions if not billions of people at the Base of the Pyramid?
Chair and Irving Distinguished Professor
Department of Architecture
Ball State University
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Steering Committee, Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture
Advisory Board Member, International Digital Media and Arts Association
Editorial Board Member, International Journal of Architectural Computing