In the largest Grand Challenge to date, students across the RCA’s School of Design are exploring the ways design can leverage and stimulate citizen science-led practices for increasing the health and productivity of the world’s oceans. The theme is a progression from last year’s ocean-based challenge, with more focus on community-centred knowledge and solutions.
The RCA Grand Challenge is the biggest single-institution postgraduate design project in the world. Established in 2016, the annual challenge runs across the entire School of Design, bringing together MA students in a range of disciplines including Design Products, Fashion, Innovation Design Engineering, Global Innovation Design, Intelligent Mobility, Service Design and Textiles. Students are briefed to tackle key global challenges through collaboration, and by responding to social, cultural, and economic factors as well as science and technology.
This year’s Challenge aligns with the goals of the UNESCO Ocean Decade (2021-2030) to support efforts to reverse the cycle of decline in ocean health.
In January, 97 student groups partnered with RNLI volunteers across the UK, with the RNLI’s integration within these diverse coastline communities providing a valuable network to connect the student groups to the local populations and the ocean. The resulting design solutions are all aiming at increasing the resilience of UK coastal communities.
The student groups have submitted video presentations of their designs and 12 projects have been selected for the shortlist. From 10 - 14 March 2023, the shortlisted projects will be on display to the public in the Grand Challenge exhibition at the new RCA Battersea campus designed by Herzog & de Meuron. These creative innovations will demonstrate the effectiveness of a community-centred approach to design whilst revealing intriguing qualitative data about ocean-based economies in the UK. The devised solutions address a range of topics including increasing sea grass growth, reducing the erosion of seabeds, and upcycling abandoned boats.
The three winning projects will be chosen on 9 March by a judging panel including representatives from the RCA and the RNLI.
Discover the Grand Challenge 2022/23 Shortlist:
Holly Souza-Newman (Global Innovation Design), Zoe Schnegg (Design Products), Fangyu Qu (Fashion), Charikleia Papapostolou (Textiles), Yuexi Liao (Service Design)
SolidSound is a symbolic community calendar which uses nature sounds and symbols to highlight coastal and community events for promoting understanding and collaboration amongst the St Andrews community.
Sabrina Tian (Global Innovation Design), Eulalie Mathieu (Design Products), Dan Xiong (Textiles), Zhiran Song (Service Design)
Poole Pavilion is an interactive space located on the water on the coastline of Poole for visitors to view the local marine environment. Upcycled from abandoned boats, Poole Pavilion aims to provide a glimpse into what the future of coastal cities could look like.
Tarika Kumar (Global Innovation Design), Hanbo Zhan (Design Products), Danyi Zhang (Service Design), Jialin Feng (Fashion), and Emily Trenton (Textiles)
GoWater is an integrated system consisting of a wearable sensor, a virtual map, and a data distribution system which empowers locals and visitors to contribute water quality data to charitable organisations through water sports activities in the Gower Peninsula in Wales.
Deeside Moss Menagerie
Hannah Brew (Textiles), Jeffrey Chung (Global Innovation Design), Jack Lee (Design Products), Jing Zhao (Fashion), Haozhe Huang (Service Design)
The Deeside Moss Menagerie is a proposed sculptural moss garden based around a tree and sculpture adoption program that aims to engage the Chester community with the ecological restoration of the River Dee.
The Great Boat Upcycling Challenge
Bhushan Deshmukh (Intelligent Mobility), Jiayi Wang (Design Products), Jiyun Xia (Fashion), Jacob Monk (Textiles), Isha Ghaisas (Service Design)
The Great Boat Upcycling Challenge is a TV show concept which would see teams express their creativity by upcycling abandoned boats from along the Truro River in a Creative Reality Show format. The work would be displayed and judged at an exhibition in Truro, called ‘The Boat Graveyard’.
Alhaan Ahmed (Innovation Design Engineering), Manyue Wang (Design Products), Meiqi Wang (Fashion), Manuela Cabrales (Textiles), Li Ma (Service Design)
OYSTOP is a multi-pollution barrier that prevents harmful pollutants from entering oyster farms at Whitstable, Kent and other affected coastal areas. It is composed of an oyster shell wall which helps filter raw sewage in the ocean using the living microbes on oyster shells.
Emanuele Carlo Maria Griccioli (Innovation Design Engineering), Pz Chang (Design Products), Qi Pan (Fashion), Thi Nguyen (Service Design)
‘Sleep Zone’ aims to protect the seabed at Poole Harbour from constant disturbance caused by unlicensed fishing and boating through the use of modular devices which serve as location markers for fishermen and conservation tools to nourish eelgrass to regrow.
Hugo Garcia (Innovation Design Engineering), Shenyang Xi (Design Products), Shanice Palmer (Fashion), Xiaoxu Cheng (Textiles), Sam Royle (Service Design)
Sea Seeds is a circular eco-hobbying concept developed from Oban, Scotland that enables kayakers, sailors and other water enthusiasts to give back to the environment by planting new seagrass while enjoying the ocean. It incorporates a brand new biodegradable seed casing made from seaweed algae and crushed oyster shell to make planting more efficient.
Hunter McFarlane (Innovation Design Engineering), Shivangi Gupta (Design Products), Shuning Ge (Fashion), Xintian Tang (Textiles), Santi Garcia De Quevedo Martinez (Service Design)
Jurassika is an educational app that uses AI and AR to enable fossil exploration and tide safety along the Jurassic Coast in Dorchester, Dorset.
Xiaoyi Ye (Design Products), Xinyu Liu (Fashion), Ziwen Niu (Textiles), Tegan Mills (Service Design)
Insoluble Solutions is a filtration system that attracts and captures jellyfish from the estuary at Marchwood, Hampshire, extracting their mucus and collecting microplastics from the water.
Xiaoqin Zhao (Innovation Design Engineering), Yuchao Lin (Design Products), Yining Wang (Fashion), Xinyu Gao (Service Design), Aude Saint Joanis (Design Products)
Tidal Tape aims to create an eco-responsible solution to coastal erosion in Morecambe Bay and to promote biodiversity through restoring birds’ habitats. This temporary product made from recycled cork encourages plant growth through its intricate design which protects from the waves, and provides a deep anchor for young grass to develop.
Abigail Hoover (Global Innovation Design), Zijin Ling (Design Products), Yipeng Wang (Service Design), Richard Alexandre (Innovation Design Engineering)
Inspired by the severe decline of wild Atlantic salmon in Stranocum, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, Pollenwave is a biodegradable sensor system that monitors the temperature, pH, and oxygen levels in remote ocean locations. Spread in the ocean through underwater autonomous vehicles the sensors provide a more granular understanding of the environmental changes that affect marine life.
“This year’s Grand Challenge, working in partnership with the RNLI, has provided fascinating insights into understanding coastal communities, their interactions and connections between shoreline and the sea around the UK. Our designers have been investigating and developing new innovative solutions and approaches towards developing New Economic Models for the Ocean (NEMO) and therefore it is hugely impactful to gather data that allows deeper understanding towards developing solutions that protect the environment, protect species and support human activity.”Dean of the School of Design at the RCA
“As a charity the RNLI is here to save lives at sea and promote safety in and around the water in communities around the UK and Ireland. The collaboration with the RCA has enabled our people to share personal insights into their local coastal sustainability challenges. We look forward to learning from those insights and the students' ideas, enabling the RNLI to deliver more climate-resilient lifesaving services and contribute to more sustainable coastal communities.”RNLI Sustainability Manager