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A Win for Sports

SPIEGEL Announces 2016 Social Design Award Honors

This year's winners of the SPIEGEL ONLINE and SPIEGEL WISSEN Social Design Award have been announced. The victors include an app that brings sports enthusiasts together and a tree-planting project in Berlin.

Katrin Würtemberger
Thursday, 11/17/2016   01:27 PM

There are plenty of places to participate in sports in our cities, and not just in gymnasiums or on tracks, but also in parks, on public squares or in the courtyards of apartment buildings. Municipalities have set up basketball hoops and ping pong tables while parks attract joggers and soccer players.

But not all of these informal sites are easy to find; often, only locals know where the nearest ping pong table can be found. It's even more difficult to assemble a neighborhood team or find others who want to play a particular sport for, say, a game of pick-up basketball in the park. Word-of-mouth, notes tacked to trees or Facebook have long been the only communication tools available.

Now, though, they are joined by the app Groundkeeper. The app features a database of sports sites and helps you find others looking for a game -- you can use the app to meet people interested in your favorite sport and to make new friends. The project has now been awarded the Jury Prize at the Social Design Award and the Kiel-based team of developers behind it was presented with a check for 2,500 euros at the awards ceremony on Monday evening at DER SPIEGEL headquarters in Hamburg.

Raumstation Kiel

The Groundkeeper app

"The Groundkeeper app fills a gap in the increasing number of services on offer. Its simplicity makes it easily accessible to everyone," said jury member Jolanthe Kugler, a curator at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein. The app, she said, doesn't just encourage more people to participate in sports -- it also makes a contribution to integration by bringing together people of all ages and nationalities.

For juror Friedrich von Borries, professor of design theory at the University of Fine Arts of Hamburg, Groundkeeper is a "successful example of city residents taking the initiative in designing and animating space."

This year marks the third presentation of the Social Design Award, which was established by SPIEGEL WISSEN and SPIEGEL ONLINE with the support of the home improvement chain Bauhaus. The focus of this year's award was on ideas that improve life and the sense of community in our streets. We received more than 150 submissions, including proposals from as far afield as Turkey and China.

Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery: Social Design Award Presentation

We also encouraged our readers to get involved, asking them to vote for their favorites from the 10 projects that had been shortlisted. The Audience Prize went to Nachwuchs, or offspring, a project conceived by the non-profit organization Mundraub in Berlin. In exchange for a donation, new parents can have a fruit tree planted in a public space and that tree will bear the name of their new baby.


Project Mundraub

The adopt-a-tree program also entails parents then taking responsibilty for the plant's care. Mundraub has reached an agreement with the Berlin neighborhood of Pankow for the planting of 100 such trees. The first newborn tree was planted in Berlin in early 2016, with additional cities set to join the project. The Audience Prize also comes with an award of 2,500 euros.

This year marked the first time that Bauhaus also awarded a special prize. It went to the "Small Parking Spot Wonder" from Stuttgart. The idea behind it is quite simple: a pull cart, outfitted with seating, for example, is parked on the street. The law requires such carts to be parked on the street but they are not required to pay a parking fee.

Das Kleine Parkraumwunder

The "Small Parking Spot Wonder" project

The result is that city space normally occupied by parked cars is given back to residents for a few hours. The 3.6-meter (12-foot) long cart has room for 10 adults or up to 20 children, who can use it as a meeting point or for a joint shopping trip.

"The wooden vehicle alters the parking space's intended function in a humorous and non-dogmatic way," jury member Kugler said in praise. "A lively and mobile meeting point takes the place of a parking spot."

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