OCAD U students design strategies to address Canada’s homelessness crisis

Friday, October 26, 2012 - 4:00am

(Toronto—October 26, 2012) How do you design a solution with the power to lift Canada's 300,000 homeless and at-risk people out of poverty? What can be done to shift the perception that the condition of homelessness is "normal"?

OCAD University students were challenged with these very questions in the university's annual Design Competition, Four by Six. Over a four-day period, 19 student teams researched, consulted experts in the field and collaborated to develop solutions that challenge the status quo and change the lives of the homeless.

The first place submission, Revolution, suggests an amendment to Canada's Constitution Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to protect social welfare funding. In second place, Toronto Beyond Homeless, a concept to give people a virtual home on the web that helps them develop social connections, which in turn could lead to employment opportunities. Other winning concepts suggest awareness campaigns paired with matched donations online towards housing, or mentoring solutions that bring the homeless and those with past experience together to form a community of support.

"This competition challenges students to get outside their comfort zone and expand their thought and design processes to address large systemic social issues through the collaborative efforts of interdisciplinary teams," said Gayle Nicoll, Dean of the Faculty of Design. "Designers from every discipline have something to contribute to resolving a real-world problem - the catch being for this competition, we want them to do it in record time."

OCAD University congratulates the winning teams:

First Place, $2000: Revolution
Revolution proposes to amend Canada's Constitution Act, which contains the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to "make adequate funding for social welfare in Canada inexorable, and untouchable by the Canadian political climate." The team expressed that social welfare is too much at the whim of political powers, and should be made immune from shifting political policy.
Team members: Reid Langille, Sarah Crossley, Mary Bulnes Velez, and Maximillian Wessman in third-year Industrial Design, and Fiorella Martinez, third-year Advertising.

Revolution (video)

Second Place, $1000: Toronto Beyond Homelessness
Toronto Beyond Homelessness is designed to "take you through the footsteps of an individual left without a home, from the moment they are forced out onto the street, up until their moment in front of you now." The campaign includes a website that gives homeless people a virtual address, where they can tell their stories and create new networks that can lead to opportunities.
Team members: Nikoli Berda, Mandad Tabrizi, Daniel Sookdeo and Sina Afshani in fourth-year (thesis) Industrial Design.

Third Place, $500: home=x
home=x is an awareness campaign that makes use of 12 by 12 inch sheets of white paper that symbolize a square foot of space. Coupled with the formation of a charitable organization called blueprint and a website, people are encouraged to consider the meaning of the word home and confront traditionally held views. Donations through the website towards providing housing solutions are matched by the organization.
Team members: Brad MacDonald, third-year Advertising, and Jen DeVera and Sarah Lever in third-year Industrial Design.

Honourable Mention: On the Dot Mentors
On the Dot Mentors is a network designed to give people at risk or homeless individuals a real, live human resource. The system pairs an individual with past experience with mentees in transition, to help provide access to services and support. In addition to linking a community full-circle, the system is designed to elevate stereotypical perception and help at risk individuals maintain dignity.
Team members: Daria Yurchenko, Jurgis Mikens and Dimitry Galamiyev in second-year Industrial Design, Luiza Kazi in fourth-year Graphic Design, Emily Pop Paulauskas in second-year Environmental Design and Jane Lee in second-year Material Art and Design.

Concepts by all of the student teams are on exhibit until Friday, November 2 in OCAD University's Great Hall (Level 2, 100 McCaul Street, Toronto). For more information on the competition and the exhibit, visit www.ocadu.ca/designcompetition.  

About OCAD University (OCAD U)
OCAD University is Canada's "university of imagination." The University, founded in 1876, is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines. OCAD University is building on its traditional, studio-based strengths, adding new approaches to learning that champion cross-disciplinary practice, collaboration and the integration of emerging technologies. In the Age of Imagination, OCAD University community members will be uniquely qualified to act as catalysts for the next advances in culture, technology and quality of life for all Canadians.

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Sarah Mulholland, Media & Communications Officer
416-977-6000 x327 (mobile x1327)