Encouraging ingenious urban interventions

The Challenge

We wanted to find inventive and inexpensive ways to give bleak, unwelcoming urban environments a makeover, transforming them into friendly, engaging spaces that encourage participation and provoke curiosity.

The Solution

We established “A Grand Idea,” a competition that challenges participants to come up with design solutions that transform urban environments into spaces we can truly inhabit. We sought designs that demonstrated a fun, inventive, and sustainable use of public space, and we required that a prototype of the design could be built for a budget of $1000 (i.e. for “a grand,” hence the competition’s name). We called for competition entries through Designwala, our website that showcases design-driven projects. We received a large number of impressive entries from around the world. The winning entry was Supertable (previously called the Mobile Activation Station), a project by Haruka Horiuchi & Frank Hebbert. Supertable is a portable, reconfigurable table with built-in power distribution, lighting, and storage. It turns vacant storefronts into communal spaces. Supertable will come with simple instructions and a kit of readily available parts. This project embraces open source, DIY notions of creating structures that are hackable, reusable, and community driven. “The Super Table turns empty stores into hives of communal activity. Assembled by hand from readily available and affordable parts, the Table is an evolving open design.”- Super Table Blog

Partnerships & Community

The competition was funded in part by donations from Ravisharon Kaur, Ramakrishnan Subramanian, Rahul Pande, Kiran Kannacheri, Saravanakumar Velayudham, Sameer Kumar, Keerthik Sasidharan, Saad Tabani, Ritwik Dey, Giana Gonzalez, Sonali Sridhar, Jairam Ranganathan, Amit Desai, Priyanka Gupta, and Shweta Mudgal. The competition was judged by Raul Smith Correa of Faiscas, Soo-in Yang of The Living, and Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai.

Commissioning Partner



Strategic Overview, Concept Design


July 2010