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Designers come to the rescue - literally

THE earthquake tragedy in China's Sichuan Province has mobilized young student designers from universities and institutes all over the world. They have brought their minds to offer designs to make buildings safer during quakes and have even offered ideas to improve rescue work and help emergency workers.

The "Design Inspiring Humanism," featuring works from the 2009 Cumulus International Design Competition for the Earthquake Disaster Relief, will run through June 14 at the Knowledge and Innovation Community in Yangpu District.

A total of 108 pieces of design for emergency work are displayed. They come from more than 600 students from 56 design colleges in 14 countries and regions.

Sponsored by Cumulus, an international association of universities and colleges of art, design and media, and Tongji University, it aims to develop new tools and a new understanding of ways of handling emergencies with multidisciplinary inventions, adapting them to local conditions.

At the exhibition, there are emergency kits, which can be kept at a home or distributed instantly when needed.

To give survivors, injured or trapped victims, access to pure drinking water, water dispensation and instant water cleaning products have been designed.

The students have also come up with good ideas for special sanitation and shelter units for different categories of survivors like the elderly, children, families and for professional search and rescue teams.

Rings, necklaces, watches and clothing can be turned into pre-disaster identification tags as a way of storing essential data about the wearer.

One design for desks in classrooms makes them triangular and ready to act as temporary shelters. Special pillows can be turned into equipment that will help people escape a major disaster.

Chen Yinfeng, a senior student from Tongji University, who majors in industrial design, won the gold prize with his invention of the "multi-functional life-saving hammer." He was awarded 50,000 yuan (US$7,321).

"Mega machines are usually more difficult than smaller ones to bring into a rescue scene. Therefore, the idea of designing a special portable hammer for rescuers came to me," Chen says.

"Nowadays, many universities worldwide have been doing research and developing solutions to ensure there will be less damage and loss of life in unexpected natural disasters. I'm happy to have contributed to this."

With the 50,000 yuan reward, he is planning to donate some money to children in the quake-hit province. His work will also go on display in London, Milan and Helsinki.

"Design Inspiring Humanism" exhibition

Date: through June 14, 10am-6pm

Venue: KIC Plaza, 234 Songhu Rd

Admission: Free


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