LICA343: Design Studio: Contexts

As a design student I decided to address the Royal Society of Arts, 2021 Student Design Awards competition brief, The Right to Breathe:

How might we ensure that everyone living in areas with poor air quality is guaranteed their right to clean air?

Using air pollution as the central issue addressed within this module, I used design thinking to shape my approach to this brief. Through extensive secondary research I was able to explore the problem of air pollution in Thailand and narrow my scope on the sugarcane industry. Setting the focus of my primary research on citizens and farmers dealing with the air pollution in Thailand I interviewed them to gain a deeper understanding and through methods of co-design I was able to take useful feedback from industry experts to refine my solution

Problem: Thailand's economy is heavily dependent on sugarcane farming. Open burning which occurs in sugarcane fields is recognized as a major source of PM 2.5 air pollution. Thailand’s capitals have become smog-filled and the poor air quality is becoming a serious environmental and health issue for residents.

Process: From my research, I have identified that Thailand suffers from high levels of PM 2.5 air pollution due to transboundary haze, vehicle emissions and biomass burning. Though the government has taken steps to address this problem, the major issue of biomass burning is linked to the agricultural industry and economy and has proven too complex to address. This solution, therefore, looks to speculative design and technology as one way of responding to this issue.

RSA research and compelling insights- air pollution Thailand
RSA research and compelling insights- air pollution Thailand

Research and compelling insights- air pollution Thailand

Solution: Systems thinking is one approach to problem-solving in design that views ‘problems’ as part of a wider, dynamic system. By first detailing the sugarcane cycle I was able to understand that farmers usually engage in poor agricultural activities such as field burning because while it is bad for the environment it is the cheapest and easiest way for them to clear the land at the end of the agricultural season. Assessing the impact, I uncovered that citizens are faced with smog-filled capitals, inability to engage in outdoor activities, decrease in their health thus I proposed a solution that addresses the source of the problem, burning, with the use of aquaponics that would see sugarcane grown using sustainable vertical farming methods.
Solution systems thinking
Solution systems thinking

Crystal Hive is a floating tower that uses aquaponics and vertical farming to put forth sustainable farming practices. This solution brings together farmers and sugar manufacturers creating a circular system, where waste from sugarcane farming and sugar production is converted to useful products immediately.

Aerial view of the Crystal Hive tower
Aerial view of the Crystal Hive tower

Aerial view of the Crystal Hive tower

Floor Plan

Social and Environmental Impact

Tai Rosemin, BA Design

Proposal

LICA344: Design Studio: Things

‘When the future can no longer be expected to follow on neatly from the past, then imaginative means must be employed’ (Brown, 2000). The aim of this module and furthermore this portfolio is to present a dialogue in the form of visualizations, about what the potential futures of emerging technology look like. 

Why is it importnant?:According to the NHS, more than 2 million people in England over the age of 75 live alone and the rates of loneliness among older people are drastically increasing. In addition to this, the global pandemic has driven an even further distance between families, and as such finding a way to care for our older population mentally and physically has become a pressing issue. Care robots are beginning to be taken more seriously now more than ever as a way of solving this problem.
What is it?:‘By definition, a care robot is a machine that is able to conduct tasks related to physical or emotional care either autonomously or semi-autonomously’ (Van Aerschot and Parviainen, 2020) These robots are specifically designed for social interactions with humans, focusing on displacing the demanding tasks on families of coping with elderly care.
When will it be?: Dr Ian Pearson, a fellow of the British Computer Society and the Royal Society of Arts and Commerce predicts that Robots will be commonplace in homes across the world by 2050. While it may take some time for fully autonomous care robots to become a reality, social robots- designed solely for roles such as conversing, playing, keeping company, have already been introduced to nursing homes to the delight of the elderly over the past year.
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