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RCA Grand Challenge 2020/21 – Design for Safety

The RCA Grand Challenge is the biggest single-institution postgraduate design project in the world. 

It is an interdisciplinary collaborative event that runs each year across the entire School of Design

For 2020/21 the theme is Design for Safety. 

Nearly 400 postgraduate designers, in 77 teams of 5 will conceive and develop design responses that explore, challenge or improve the practice, culture, principles and ethics of Design for Safety.

Finding solutions to unlock potential 

medic wearing PPE
Designers Address the Unprecedented Global Demand for PPE
The Covid-19 pandemic is one of the greatest safety design problems of our time. 

It has exposed major flaws in a wide range of our capabilities for dealing with human safety; ranging from political governance, confidence in communications, supply lines and business models to human resilience. 

The Grand Challenge 2020/21 takes the pandemic as a specific, current problem and challenges students to find solutions to help us move forward and unlock potential and opportunities.

Big ideas and team thinking

map of grand challenge participants
Grand Challenge 2020/21 map, Chang Hee Lee
This intensive project is all about big ideas and creative team thinking. 

The 77 teams are globally dispersed in 50 countries, but will come together online from their own working spaces to create a high-capacity, world-class design collective. 

Over a four-week period, the teams will devote around 64,000 hours (35.2 years) of creative capital to this challenge, working alongside over 20 academics in the ultimate design think-tank.

Think the unthinkable

visualisation
Scarlett Yang
The ultimate aim of the RCA Grand Challenge – Design for Safety is to develop new strategic and applied thinking to tackle complex future problems relating to people and the environment. 

The RCA Grand Challenge teaches designers to think the unthinkable, which may help us better prepare for major future challenges. 

It equips students with the power of creative imagination, knowledge and expertise to look into our blind spots. Design has the power to change the future; and this goes far beyond developing new products and services. 

It can inform new behaviours, systems, products and services that move beyond solutions towards exploring possible futures, ones that we would prefer to be in.

World-leading partners and academics

grand challenge visual
Scarlett Yang
RCA Grand Challenge 2020-21 is sponsored by Logitech. 

With contributors from: BBC, CERN, UNDP, Gallup, Unreal Engine, Resilience Shift, World Health Organisation (WHO), Lloyd’s Register Foundation (LRF), Elrha / Humanitarian Innovation Fund,  vHM Design Futures, Foresight Factory. 

The RCA Grand Challenge 2020/21 is jointly run by Dr Laura Ferrarello, Clive Grinyer, Professor Ashley Hall, Dr Chang Hee Lee and Dr John Stevens.


Check out The Grand Challenge 2019/20: ‘Enhancing the Human – capability and performance’

Find out more about studying in the School of Design and how to apply.