2013 Buckminster Fuller Challenge

Socially-responsible design's highest award

by eleonora usseglio prinsi
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Called "socially-responsible design's highest award", the Buckminster Fuller Institute (BFI) announced the details of the 2013 cycle of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge, which will open for entrants on March 1, 2013. The annual Buckminster Fuller Challenge, now in its sixth year, will award a grand prize of $100,000 to a winning entrant, as well as partnerships new for 2013 that will recognize finalists for their solutions and provide an infrastructure of support to accelerate the implementation of ideas based in design science.

Created to celebrate the spirit of visionary Buckminster Fuller's design principles, and identify contemporary examples of his concept of comprehensive design thinking, the Challenge has the distinction of being the only prize of its size calling for whole systems design approaches to solving world problems.

R. Buckminster Fuller was a renowned 20th century inventor and visionary. Dedicating his life to making the world work for all of humanity, Fuller operated as a practical philosopher who demonstrated his ideas as inventions that he called “artifacts.” Fuller worked as a 'comprehensive anticipatory design scientist' to solve global problems surrounding housing, shelter, transportation, education, energy, ecological destruction, and poverty. 

For the first time, the Buckminster Fuller Challenge has a lead corporate sponsor: Interface, Inc, the company founded by legendary sustainability pioneer Ray Anderson. The world's largest carpet tile manufacturer and a leader in sustainability thinking, Interface is also committed to providing an immersion opportunity for a finalist or group of finalists whose solutions may contribute to the radical redesign of industrial manufacturing, celebrating the intersection of Ray Anderson and Buckminster Fuller's shared vision.


The winning solution should exemplify the trimtab principle. Trimtabs are small steering devices used on ships and airplanes which demonstrate how relatively small amounts of leverage, energy, and resources strategically applied at the right time and place can produce maximum advantageous change.

Entrants must put forward a bold, visionary, tangible initiative that is focused on a well-defined need of critical importance. Proposed solutions must represent a preferred state model – one that aims to optimize conditions from inception in order to create the most desirable, sustainable, future outcome. Entries should be regionally specific yet globally applicable, and backed up by a solid plan and the capability to move the solution forward. 

The deadline submissions is 12 April 2013.

The winner of The Buckminster Fuller Challenge is chosen in a multi-stage selection process.The review team is an experienced group of people drawn from diverse fields of expertise and comprised of members of BFI’s staff & Board, advisors to the Challenge and other technical experts as required.  Winner Announced and Conferring Ceremony will hold at Cooper Union in November 2013.

Image courtesy Buckminster Fuller Institute