A competition to find designs which have created the most harm to the human race has been launched by the non-profit group Architecture for Humanity.
Buildings, weapons and vehicles are all eligible for The Dead Prize – the brainchild of Cameron Sinclair, the cofounder of the organisation who is based in London.
Architecture for Humanity uses design to address humanitarian crises, but it now wants to highlight harmful objects and botched projects which will be nominated by the general public.
“We often critique the surface of a design solution. Is it pretty? Is it cool?’ said Sinclair. “But rarely do we take a pragmatic view on whether a design solution has improved life. Has it caused harm?”
He said nominees for The Dead Prize will include bad architecture, industrial design and engineering, which has “created a negative impact on either the user or the community as a whole”.
Well designed objects that cause harm, such as guns and tanks could be in the running, alongside useful inventions with unwelcome side-effects – such as aeroplanes or clothes that support bad working conditions.
Also badly designed projects, such as sprawling concrete housing estates that people hate living in could be contenders.
It aims to inspire designers and planners to create better products and towns in the future, by recognising and fixing past mistakes
“In the past decade we have seen an explosion of honours and awards for the most innovative and forward thinking solutions,” Sinclair writes on the prize’s website.
“Yet no one recognises the projects that have caused harm to the environment – designs that are helping shorten our existence on this planet. This is why we created The Dead Prize.
“Let’s recognise the bad, honour the failures and hopefully do something to rectify these designs against humanity.
“We don’t believe in being negative, our focus is to discover what the benchmark is to design against or getting a better understanding of how a design failed or was intentionally harmful.
“It is our hope that like-minded designers see these failures as a challenge to create something new, to correct the mistakes of the past or to find the antidote for the project in question.”
Sinclair said that he will try and reach out to nominated designers and companies to ask what went wrong, or why they engineered such a harmful product. He said that designers can even nominate their own creations.
People can nominate inventions until November 1 on Twitter, using the handle @deadprize.
A team of judges from the fields of design, health, education and the media will shortlist nominations, before an overall winner is selected in early 2015.