In the summer of 2021, the Design Networking Hub was launched. The aim was to create a knowledge and networking platform for designers, architects and creative professionals to support international cooperation projects in the field of design and architecture.
In order to make the content of this platform as user-oriented as possible, a pilot group of ten young designers and architects from Germany and Kenya was selected to work in teams through the entire process of bilateral cooperation. In the fields of mobility, housing and digitalisation, they set up and implemented three cooperation projects for the German or Kenyan market.
The special cultural and economic requirements of the two countries have initiated unconventional creative processes, provided surprising twists and turns and produced some solutions that could hardly have been foreseen in advance.
In the following, we present team »Housing«’s project result.
All over the world, social and political grievances, environmental and natural disasters, or armed conflicts force people to leave their familiar surroundings.
Many of these people have an urgent need for temporary accommodation or mobile housing solutions. With its FLEXI SPACE project, the German-Kenyan team »Housing« addresses this problem.
The three designers Julita Afande, Betty Mwema and Hannah Weirich, together with the architect William Otuke, interviewed homeless people in Kenya and Germany to understand their hardships and asked them about their urgent needs.
As different as the situations in the two places may be, they mostly involve the same basic lack of safety, hygiene and security.
With FLEXI SPACE, the four creatives follow their approach: »Creating a home without a home«. It means providing homeless people (or "future homed" according to team »Housing«) with the basic advantages of a residence without four solid walls using innovative products.
To satisfy the needs, a whole series of innovations are necessary: First and foremost is a personalised locker system, which could not only offer the homeless / future homed a safe place to store their personal belongings, but also provide them with the advantage of having their own address. An address is a necessity for receiving mail or signing contracts.
Plans were also developed for flexible, lockable and foldable sleeping bags with a heat-insulating layer and solar-powered mobile phone charging station. Likewise, sketches have been made for hygiene safety backpacks that can solve the problems of many female homeless people in particular.
FLEXI SPACE remains an expandable concept that could respond to further needs and, for example, offer public showers or employment services specifically oriented towards future homed.
The final presentation of FLEXI SPACE was recorded at the »Ideas Crossing Borders« conference in Berlin on 15 November 2021. Watch the recorded livestream of all three teams of the Design Networking Hub pilot group and more interesting speakers.
As part of the Design Networking Hub, a pilot group of five German and five Kenyan designers and architects has been selected with the intention of maximizing the user orientation of the information provided by the platform. During a project phase of about one year, the members have been working in small bilateral teams and jointly developing new product and business ideas or not-for-profit concepts in the fields of housing, social design and technology. A detailed overview of the selected participants can be found here.