Designers Rise to Meet the Earth Award's Aspirational Challenge

From photosynthetic foam to sustainable shells, Kuala Lumpur-inspired sunglasses to butterfly houses, the 2010 Earth Awards honored the most innovative ideas for building a new economy. Setting an aspiration challenge—really more of a goal—for designers, the Earth Awards called on these innovators to push themselves to create viable designs that can improve people's lives.Taking the grand prize was Dr. Carlo Montemagno and Dr. David Wendell, who successfully demonstrated an artificial photosynthetic foam capable of converting atmospheric carbon into harvestable energy. The foam, which is based on the natural action of plants, is more efficient than photosynthesis in the wild, creating a powerful and versatile energy production platform.

In the built environment category, Architect Michael Ramage and Engineering Professor John Ochsendorf combined earth brick technology with classic methods of open vaulting to create a low-cost and sustainable building system for the developing world.

Texas-born designer Jamie Lim offered a new line of sunglasses inspired by time spent in Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong. The glasses, which won the fashion category, are made from fast-growing bamboo and manufactured by local craft producers.

The gear-like Polli Bricks won the product category. Architect Arthur Huang's creation is an architectural cladding that is 100% re-engineered from recycled plastic bottles.

The Soe Ker Tie Hias, or Butterfly Houses, that won this years social justice category provide a home and community for refugee orphans on the border of Thailand and Burma.

Finally, provides designers with an open-source library that helps them take inspiration from nature. The winner of the systems category, Ask Nature offers a "home habitat" for the biomimicry community.

Read more about the Earth Awards
Read more about Earth Awards Winners:
Kayu Bamboo Sunglasses Offer Sight to the Blind
Hymini Debuts New Renewable Energy Products (Video)
Can We Use Biomimicry To Design Cities? Janine Benyus Says Yes

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