LifeArk is a BFI Fuller Challenge Semifinalist!


NEW YORK CITY (August 17, 2017) - The Buckminster Fuller Challenge is delighted to announce the Semifinalists for the 2017 Fuller Challenge. A record number of entries were submitted in this 10th anniversary cycle of the program. Seventeen proposals were selected as Semifinalists from more than 460 entries.

The Buckminster Fuller Challenge program has been highlighting and celebrating exceptional examples of “whole systems” design across many sectors for the past 10 years. Launched in 2007, the program has been widely regarded as "socially-responsible design’s highest award" (first recognized by Metropolis Magazine in 2010). The 2017 Fuller Challenge Semifinalists are exemplars of innovative, multi-pronged approaches to addressing critical problems in agriculture, architecture, climate change, community planning, education, ecology, economic development, energy, human health, materials, sanitation, environmental and social justice, and other domains.

The seventeen Semifinalists have undergone rigorous evaluation for adherence to the Fuller Challenge criteria over a period of 4 months by members of the Challenge Review Committee, which includes more than a dozen long-standing reviewers as well as external advisors and experts.

While the list of Semifinalists below is categorized into problem spaces, the proposed solutions reflect integrated strategies that respond to multiple issues simultaneously as required in the Fuller Challenge Call for Proposals.

"These Semifinalists were drawn from a truly exceptional pool of initiatives. We were very gratified – having been at this for ten years now – to see that the quality of the visions, the caliber of the teams, and the commitment to solving complex issues demonstrated in the entry pool were at an all-time high. It seems fitting to conclude and celebrate the first ten-year chapter of this prize program with the knowledge that comprehensive, anticipatory approaches to problem solving are on the rise around the world. On behalf of the entire Fuller Challenge team, we want to extend our congratulations to this year’s Semifinalists!" said Elizabeth Thompson, Fuller Challenge Founding Director.

The 2017 Buckminster Fuller Challenge Semifinalists are:


  • LifeArk presents a physical solution to vulnerable human living conditions caused by climate change, natural disasters, armed conflict, and economic disparity through a pre-fabricated, modular building system that can create self-sustaining aquatic or terrestrial communities. Today, more than 1 billion people around the world dwell in slums, while more than 65 million people have become refugees or have been forcibly displaced. The LifeArk solution is a rapidly deployable structure that is flexible enough to respond to each individual community’s needs through its various configurations. It is fitted for transportation in standard shipping containers, can be mass produced at low cost and rapidly assembled with commonly available tools, and it allows for a variety of structure types, including community centers, health clinics, schools, hydroponic farms, and dwelling units—all of which can have a lifespan of 25-30 years. The units will contain built-in amenities as well as off-grid systems for clean water, energy, and waste management. The globally-adaptable LifeArk design is about to be prototyped on a lake in Texas and then deployed in the pilot community of Santa Rosa, Peru, along the Amazon River.