In 1950, only 86 cities in the world held over one million people. Today there are over 400. By 2020, there will be 600. Although some of this growth will occur within large cities, most will happen within the second-tier cities of developing countries, resulting in the production of fringe settlements at a scale yet unseen. 

The ability to meet the challenges and opportunities presented by this emerging world of rusted metal, blue plastic tarps and broken bits of concrete will be a critical factor in determining the health of our planet.

This is where we work.



Since 2006, the IDC has used this approach to realize dozens of socially-responsive creative actions around the world. Completed works include an urban tent for the homeless made of reclaimed water bottles and plastic bags; a communal play-space for Romanian orphans constructed of construction debris; a vision for education for the migratory communities of India based upon borrowed resources; a three-dollar projection system designed to rearticulate the manner in which art and architecture is conceived, displayed and regenerated; and a street-based educational system designed within vending architectures for kids working the streets of Bolivia.

 street URCHIN


 communal PLAY


 vending EDUCATION


 projection MAIL


 reclaimed SKY


 moving SCHOOLS


 chainlink GREEN


 fence POCKET


 green HOUSE




In order to be relevant here, the IDC trades the rigid hierarchy implied by terms such as owner, client, user and public for more inclusive and heterarchical terminologies and practices.

We abandon the linear, research-[then]-design-[then]-construction-[then]-occupation process for practices that overlap these activities in significant ways. In terms of approach, we base our efforts upon four principles:

... that site is more about persistent conditions and less about physical geography;

... that size, like respect, is earned, not bestowed (and that small is OK);

... that program is not fixed, but emerges as new users re-imagine, re-inhabitat, or re-construct;

... that the chief aspiration of architecture can be the facilitation of its own destruction and, if warranted, subsequent reconstruction.




As a part of our initiative to create work that can be adopted and evolved by the communities they are intended to help, all of our project materials are open source and available to download now.


Where have we shared?

The IDC shares all creative action openly, so that others might develop more profound findings and we might, collectively, help others more effectively. In addition to sharing our work through street-based exhibitions and other informal happenings, the IDC has presented research and actions in academic settings around the world, including presentations at Third, Fifth, and Sixth International Symposia On Service Learning In Higher Education, the 2011 ARCC National Conference and the 2008 International Conference on Informal Settlements And Low Income Housing as well as invited lectures at Brown University, the University of Maryland, the New School for Design at Parsons, and the Pratt Institute.

The IDC has published writings on socially-responsive design in a range of peer-reviewed publications, including works by the AIA Press (2010) and the University of Indianapolis Press (2010). The IDC has also used exhibitions as a means to share our thinking, including solo shows at the San Francisco Museum of Art in La Paz, Bolivia (2011, 2015) and the AIA Center for Architecture in Philadelphia (2009) as well as group shows at the Sheldon Swope Museum of Art (2010), the SPOT gallery of Poznan, Poland (2010), the Goldstein Museum of Design (2010), the Crane Center in Philadelphia (2010, 2011), the Venice Architecture Biennale (2012) and MoMA (2014).



The IDC needs material support. To design, our volunteers need paper, pens, computers, and model-making equipment; to build, our teams need tools and materials. Without this support, our talented volunteers simply cannot give their talents to those in need.

We need financial support to provide travel fellowships and pay for the materials required to complete the project. Over time, this support will allow the IDC to endow permanent travel fellowships and hire full-time staff — key components to realizing creative work with communities in need around the world.

We need our supporters to tell others. Specifically, we need those who have dedicated their lives to helping others to know about the IDC and how it could support their efforts. Only then will the skills of our talented volunteers bring about the playgrounds, gardens, community centers and homes required by communities and organizations in need throughout the world.