The 90% Solution

90% coverfoot pump

“The majority of the world’s designers focus all their efforts on developing products and services exclusively for the richest 10% of the world’s customers. Nothing less than a revolution in design is needed to reach the other 90%.”Paul Polak, founder of International Development Enterprises and author of Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail

Ninety percent of the world’s population has little or no access to most of the products and services many of us take for granted. Nearly half lack regular access to food, clean water, or shelter. Cynthia Smith’s Design for the Other 90% explores the growing movement among architects, designers and engineers to design low-tech, low-cost solutions for the vast majority of people across the planet.

This extremely pragmatic, and very inspirational book highlights just a few design remedies gathered across the globe, such as: drip-irrigation systems, freight-carrying bicycles, bamboo treadle pumps for irrigation (pictured above), pot-in-pot coolers (which use evaporative cooling to keep food from spoiling), and portable water filters (featured on the cover of Design for the Other 90%).

We hope to revisit this subject many times over the next few months, but for now, the Land Library can recommend (from the heart and soul of its collection) the following related titles:

without bordersdamnbarefoot
Building Without Borders: Sustainable Construction for the Global Village, edited by Joseph Kennedy, Design Like You Give a Damn: Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crises, edited by Kate Stohr & Cameron Sinclair, The Barefoot Architect: A Handbook for Green Building by Johan van Lengen

rural studiopaul polakpapanek
Rural Studio: Samuel Mockbee and an Architecture of Decency by Andrea Oppenheimer Dean & Timothy Hursley, Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail by Paul Polak, Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change by Victor Papanek

And returning for a moment to Design for the Other 90%, we close on a very fun and elegant note:

THE PROBLEM: Millions of people live miles from clean water. The extreme weight of water limits how much water a family can have, and takes a heavy toll on the water-carrier’s neck, back and joints.

THE SOLUTION: The Q Drum, a durable container designed to roll easily:

water drum


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