SWA’s “Edge of Paradise” Named Winner in Urban Design Category of Fast Company’s 2022 World Changing Ideas Awards

SWA’s “Edge of Paradise” Named Winner in Urban Design Category of Fast Company’s 2022 World Changing Ideas Awards

From a 3D printed vaccine patch to an electric truck, a seawater-powered lamp, and countless other bold innovations, the sixth annual awards honor the products, concepts, companies, policies, and designs that are driving change, tackling issues from climate change to inequality, and so much more.
Sausalito, CA, May 4, 2022 — The winners of Fast Company’s 2022 World Changing Ideas Awards were announced today, honoring clean technology, innovative corporate initiatives, brave new designs for cities and buildings, and other creative works that are supporting the growth of positive social innovation, tackling social inequality, climate change, and public health crises.

“Edge of Paradise”, SWA’s novel applied research into land-based strategies for mitigating catastrophic wildfire, won the award for urban design. The research is based on the case of Paradise, California, and expands the idea of “defensible space” to the scale of an entire community. The approach combines analysis generated from accessible GIS data and technology with illustrative drawings that enable communities to understand and embrace the findings, recognizing that change requires community buy in. Flexible and far-reaching, the approach offers communities in vulnerable (rural and increasingly suburban and exurban) landscapes the opportunity to take advantage of strategies that both reduce wildfire risk and yield co-benefits of a healthier environment, including increased space for recreation and biodiversity.

“Nearly 25% of California’s population lives in fire-prone landscapes.  As the housing crisis deepens, development is forced further from urban cores and into landscapes where fire risk is highest. This increasingly includes suburban communities,” says Jonah Susskind, senior research associate at SWA and one of the project’s principal authors. “These strategies are scalable and can help communities adapt to this resilience challenge, heightened by climate change and an ongoing housing crisis.”

About the Award program’s recognition for “Edge of Paradise,” which won the urban design category and received an honorable mention in the climate category, SWA’s co-CEO and research advisor, Gerdo Aquino says, “California wildfires are as much about our culture as they are about nature. Both play a role in the devastation to natural systems, property and life. Our goal at SWA is to create research-based, resilient strategies that can help mitigate the extent of the damage caused by wildfires while being fully aware of our own limitations.”

Now in its sixth year, the World Changing Ideas Awards showcase 39 winners, 350 finalists, and more than 600 honorable mentions—with climate, social justice, and AI and data among the most popular categories. A panel of eminent Fast Company editors and reporters selected winners and finalists from a pool of more than 2,997 entries across transportation, education, food, politics, technology, health, social justice, and more. In addition, several new categories have been added this year including climate, nature, water, and workplace. The 2022 awards feature entries from across the globe, from Switzerland to Hong Kong to Australia.

Fast Company’s Summer 2022 issue (on newsstands May 10, 2022) will showcase some of the world’s most inventive entrepreneurs and companies tackling global challenges. The issues highlight, among others, probiotics for coral reefs, easy-to-assemble kit homes for refugees or disaster survivors, a 3D printed vaccine patch, an electric truck, a system to heat homes from the waste heat of a name-brand factory, and prosecutor-initiated resentencing for overly long prison sentences.

“We are consistently inspired by the novelty and creativity that people are applying to solve some of our society’s most pressing problems, from shelter to the climate crisis. Fast Company relishes its role in amplifying important, innovative work to address big challenges,” says David Lidsky, interim editor-in-chief of Fast Company. “Our journalists have identified some of the most ingenious initiatives to launch since the start of 2021, which we hope will both have a meaningful impact and lead others to join in being part of the solution.”

See this video and Q&A to learn more.

About the World Changing Ideas Awards: World Changing Ideas is one of Fast Company’s major annual awards programs and is focused on social good, seeking to elevate finished products and brave concepts that make the world better. A panel of judges from across sectors choose winners, finalists, and honorable mentions based on feasibility and the potential for impact. With the goals of awarding ingenuity and fostering innovation, Fast Company draws attention to ideas with great potential and helps them expand their reach to inspire more people to start working on solving the problems that affect us all.

About SWA
SWA is a world-renowned landscape architecture, planning, and urban design firm celebrated for its creativity, responsiveness, and design excellence. Our work gives new life to outdoor spaces at multiple scales – from public plazas to waterfronts to entire city districts – harnessing natural systems while enhancing the unique characteristics of each setting. SWA has studios in Dallas, Houston, Laguna Beach, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Sausalito and Shanghai.  For more information, please visit www.swagroup.com.