23 May 2017: Students from Yale-NUS and SUTD team up for an international social innovation competition

By Julian Low| Images provided by Nicholas Carverhill

In early 2017, two students from Yale-NUS College and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) collaborated on a joint project and emerged as one of the finalists in an international social innovation competition.

Nicholas Carverhill (Class of 2017) and Jezamine Chua, an Architecture and Sustainable Design undergraduate from SUTD, took part in the inaugural ‘Place and Displacement – a Marketplace in Refugee Settlements’ competition that challenged participants to design an operational marketplace for refugees in one of three refugee settlements in Jordan, Kenya or Germany.

There were over 300 submitted proposals from more than 700 participants in 34 countries and 150 universities around the world. The competition was organised by Ideation Worldwide, a non-profit organisation that provides novel solutions to critical issues in the global social sector.

Keen in submitting a proposal, Nicholas reached out to a friend from SUTD to seek out an SUTD design and architecture student to collaborate with. “I was introduced to Jezamine and we took it from there. It was clear from the beginning that we had a complementary skill set and a shared passion for this field,” he said.

The duo spent three months conducting extensive research and drafting numerous designs before producing a concept for the refugees in Germany. Entitled ‘The Gateway’, their proposal critically addressed the economic, social and psychological needs of the refugees with an overlapping set of innovative solutions.

Nicholas explained further: “Our idea for the marketplace was to design an ecosystem of services for the refugees. These included educational facilities, community areas and recreational space. Our proposal addressed four tasks of societal integration – learning German as a second language, providing job training and labour integration, mental health care and access to services. Ultimately, we wanted The Gateway to be perceived as a holistic space for these refugees to overcome challenges and rebuild their lives.”

Although the duo did not win this competition, Nicholas was very proud of their efforts. “There were so many quality entries from all over the globe, so Jezamine and I are very proud that our proposal was good enough to have been shortlisted as one of the 26 finalists. In fact, our proposal even made it to the Top 9 rankings in the Berlin site category,” he shared.

Feeling motivated, Nicholas and Jezamine have since worked on another project which has been submitted for a competition organised by the Urban Redevelopment Authority in Singapore. This time round, the competition called for creative pop-up installations that could enliven public spaces in Singapore.

An Urban Studies major, Nicholas intends to embark on a career in the field of international humanitarian aid after graduation. He cited the curriculum and projects in the major as key factors in formulating his post-graduation plans.

“It made me realise about the grim reality of current global issues and how they greatly affect people’s way of living. I want to serve those who have been marginalised and help make a difference in their lives,” he shared. He hopes to be involved in strategic and policy planning in this field at some point of his career.

Students who take Urban Studies as their major are exposed to the insights and approaches of a range of disciplines, including sociology, geography and environmental science, political science, anthropology, economics and history.