We need audacious ideas!

For the future of society: we need audacious ideas!


We are inspired by Rachel Armstrong and her work and see it as a call to teach children how to design better futures. We also use examples from Rachel’s work in our inspiration sessions during Design-a-thons.

As ‘children of the industrial revolution’ we need to find solutions that regain and increase the wealth of the earth — instead of subtracting it. And to succeed we need to use our creative minds as the most powerful technology we have. We have to put it to good use: we need to nurture creativity from an early age to keep this explorative manner alive, and to keep a space where rules can be broken. Creativity evolves through being given limits and challenges and asking questions. It’s crucial to start young, because then it’s not about unpicking the way children think but encouraging them to form new connections that then help them construct ways of thinking in the future. (…) the desire for discovery has got to be there throughout your life. Otherwise, you stop dreaming.

Professor Rachel Armstrong is considered to be one of the UK’s top innovators. She is a pioneer in the field of architectural design and is well known for her approach to sustainable building, called “living architecture”. She re-imagines the world’s cities and argues that in order to achieve sustainable development we need to rethink how we approach our architecture. Her thinking is to use ecological solutions for urban problems. She says, that uur future cities will be designed more like gardens than machines, that buildings will perform functions that we currently attribute to the plant world, such as capturing carbon from the atmosphere. Buildings will also contribute to the health of residents by removing pollution or providing food and energy.

By genetically modifying biological systems and studying such things as protocells  — nongenetic self-organizing molecules that exhibit movement and sensitivity to their surroundings — we could create more responsive and dynamic structures and thus for example even save the city of Venice from drowning.* These ideas may seem outlandish but they are based on real technology that exists today.

In Armstrong’s call for audacious ideas we think to provide a part of the answer through our work at Design-a-Thon School. We encourage children to think like this, to explore the possibilities that technology provide or could provide in the future. We too are thoroughly convinced of the importance of enabling young investigative minds to explore the world around them.

For more on Rachel Armstrongs work go visit:




Living Architecture: How Synthetic Biology Can Remake Our Cities and Reshape Our Lives is part of the TED Books series.

*Future Venice — Rachel Armstrong has been developing Future Venice in collaboration with Neil Spiller, Martin Hanczyc and Hans Toftlund.