Focus On: Design for social impact

Can design help people? Can design build better communities? Can architecture be a force for social change? Four designers answer these questions.

Jeanne van Heeswijk on how social design can improve communities.

Visual artist Jeanne van Heeswijk believes that social design is the way forward in creating better communities for all residents. She encourages people to become active agents in planning and developing their immediate environments through challenging the way city plans are developed. 

Public space is the necessary arena to listen to each other, learn from each other and collectively work in a way to create an understanding of what we need to move on, she ends.

Y Tsai on how to use design to make a social impact.

Architect Y Tsai embarks on projects that will result in a social benefit. Here he speaks about why he likes to enter competitions that allow him to design an improved life for those who are disadvantaged. He speaks about numerous social projects he has undertaken such as Urban Mosaic (a winner of the Your Street competition), Nested Bunk Beds and Safmarine Sports Centre.

Heinrich Wolff on architecture as a force of social change.

Heinrich Wolff considers post-apartheid architecture in South Africa and the new role of the architect. In this talk from Design Indaba Conference 2012 Heinrich Wolff discusses architecture as a force of social change in South Africa. He also looks to the environmental responsiveness of buildings and how they form an important component of social change.

At times of rapid social change, architecture has the capacity to contribute to the outcomes of those kinds of changes, says Wolff.

Christine Goudie on how design can help people.


Christine Goudie is excited about wheelchairs. And about how design can really help people. In her talk at Design Indaba Conference 2011 she talked about “co-design” and the importance of involving the end user in the early stages of the design process.

I realised how many products on the market fail to address the users' needs on a daily basis and decided to look it, she explains.