It’s easy to get carried away with architecture and design; sacrificing usability or making it secondary to innovation. However, Space10, a Danish research and design lab is dedicated to projects that will actually work for the people that use them. Here, Design Week catches up with the team to talk about the importance of connecting with communities and other disciplines as they roll our their award-winning solar panel project in India.
When Design Week last spoke to Space10, it was to congratulate the team for having won the 2019 Design Week Social Design Award. Their winning project, SolarVille, had caught the attention of judges because of its design-led solution to a pressing socio-political issue: the fact one billion people living in rural and poverty-stricken areas around the world do not have access to electricity.
Attempting to link outlying areas to a country’s central grid can be cost- and labour-intensive and doesn’t guarantee people would be able to afford energy bills afterward. Instead, SolarVille relies on solar panels installed on half of the buildings in any given village. (Take-up of the scheme in the entire village is not realistic). These produce energy that can then be sold off automatically, according to need in the other half of the village using blockchain technology. This process is automated so there is no middle man company profiting.
By all accounts it’s been a busy year for the research and design lab, and when Design Week next catches up with the team – speaking to co-founder and communications director Simon Caspersen and lead creative producer Mikkel Christopher – they are enjoying early evening in Delhi.
For the last few months, Caspersen and Christopher have been part of the team bringing Space10 to India. It’s not the first time the organisation has popped up outside of its native Copenhagen – their work has previously been displayed in New York, London, Shanghai and Nairobi – but this has been a mission unlike anything Space10 has undertaken before.