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Out of Balance Competition Winners

The international competition: “OUT OF BALANCE – CRITIQUE OF THE PRESENT, Information Design after Otto Neurath” has announced the 2012 winners. Organized by the Berlin based magazine ARCH+ and the Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau, the competition was sponsored by Humantific, Autodesk, and Museum für Architektur und Ingenieurkunst. The competition judging took place recently in Berlin.

PRESS RELEASE Translated from German: “There were 180 entries submitted to the competition by 499 participants, who organized themselves in teams of varying sizes. About 62 per cent of the participants were students, the rest came from freelance offices or temporary working groups. The high percentage of students can be explained by the fact that the design or architecture faculties of a number of universities have incorporated the competition into their curriculum. The participants from the fields of architecture and environmental planning constitute about 49 per cent, and about 37 per cent hail from the fields of design, the fine arts, film, photography and new media. The remaining 14 per cent come from the social sciences, economics, communication studies, cultural studies, journalism and other professions.

It was not easy to make a selection among the 180 entries submitted. The jury decided to award six first prizes 2000 €, six second prizes 1000€, and five commendations 400 € (see the appendix). The pleasingly high number of competitors from 18 countries demonstrates the broad international interest not only in Information Design but also in the burning questions of today.

The pollution of the environment and the ecological footprint of the affluent societies constituted a larger thematic complex within the framework of the competition, with a special emphasis on possible changes of behavior. The social division of society as a result of increasing disparities of income was picked out as a central theme in many of the entries and examined with regard to the inequality of opportunity and to the effects of poverty on the living conditions. Onemain focal point in this context was the analysis of socio-spatial segregation by examining concrete examples of individual cities. Migration and “migrant labor” were taken up as a phenomenon which becomes more and more important against the backdrop of globalization, and both were documented with regard not only to social exclusion but also to the cultural enrichment of society.

Some entries dealt exclusively with the disastrous living conditions of migrant workers. A further thematic complex accentuated the public tasks and services which constitute the basis of the cohesion of a society: educational institutions, health care, provision of affordable accommodation, etc. Here the main attention was directed to the questions of accessibility and of the effects of privatization.

In the context of the problem of societal cohesion it also came to an analysis of the processes of political education, formation of opinion and participation. The graphic transformation of the contents is as diverse as the subject matters chosen by the competitors.

Following Otto Neurath, many entries developed their own iconography and original graphic forms in order to depict quantitative relations. Aside from these »classic« information diagrams there were also attempts at other, completely new ways of conveyance and of addressing the audience. And, most strikingly, it was not so much the technical potential of electronic media but methodical considerations which played a central role.

In Information Design, aside from the depiction of empirical facts via quantitative details – Neurath’s “language of numbers” –, the directly conveyed statement via qualitative aspects seems to gain in significance. As much as these approaches may differ, they have one thing in common: the recourse to narrative forms in the communication of contents. Or, briefly, a story is told.

Whether graphically or photographically, cinematographically or linguistically, whether with the means of collage or in the form of separate depictions, whether as fiction or as satire, whether with understatement or with hyperbole – all this is more or less of secondary importance against the experimental character of this new form of “information diagram”.

The results of the competition will be published in a special edition of ARCH+, and there are also plans to organize a small exhibition which will travel between the various universities involved in the competition.


Heinz Bude, Social Scientist/Economist Joost Grootens, Graphic Artist Sabine Kraft, Editor ARCH+ Joachim Krausse, Cultural Scientist Philipp Oswalt, Bauhaus Dessau Foundation Philippe Rekacewicz, Geographer/Cartographer Simon Rogers, The Guardian Christian Weiss, Autodesk GK VanPatter, Humantific Ursula Kleefisch-Jobs, M:AI

You can download the PDF of winning entries in English here.


Feel at Home in Your Home Team (TU Berlin): Eleonore Harmel (Architecture), Mathias Burke (Architecture)

A Glimpse Over the Horizon Team (YAAY, Basel, Switzerland): Indre Grumbinaite (Designer), Darjan Hil (Economist), Safak Korkut (Visual Communication), Nicole Lachenmeier (Designer), Kurosch Hadinia (Sociologist)

The Social Question of Democracy Team (Berlin University of the Arts): Simon Schindele (Design), Young Sam Kim (Design), Philipp Koller (Design), Dovile Aleksaite (Design), Theresia Kimmel (Design), Sebastian Bödeker (Social Sciences)

Eisenhüttenstadt Out of Balance Team (BTU Cottbus): Martin Maleschka (Architecture), Konstanze Jonientz (Architecture)

Chinese MigrantWorkers Team (Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing/China): Wu YiTing (Design), Ma Pengbin (Design), Hou Ruimiao (Design), Gao Yang (Design), ZhuWenqi (Design)

Urban Soil in the Anthropocene Development (University of Virginia/USA): Seth Denizen (Landscape Architect)


World Food Team (HfG, Schwäbisch Gmünd): Stefanie Huber (Design), Sara Hausmann (Design), Diana Mühlhauser (Design)

Meat Eats Life Development (Aachen University of Applied Sciences): Verena Mandernach (Design)

The Gutters are Filled with Gold Team (SV, Berlin): Nayeli Zimmermann (Designer), Jenny Baese (Designer), Thomas Le Bas (Designer), Hanna Hilbrandt (Architect), Fiona McDermott (Architect), Anna Richter (Social Scientist), Laura Colini (Architect)

Shisha Bar as Social Environment Development (RWTH Aachen): Michel Kleinbrahm (Architecture)

From Continuous Flow to Prepaid Drops Team (ParaArtFormations, Berlin): Marcela Lopez (Ecologist), Miodrag Kuc (Architect), Juan Esteban Naranjo (Designer)

Bradford: Liquid Mixotopia Team (Manchester School of Architecture, UK): Paul Gallacher (Architecture), Jack Stewart (Architecture), Abhi Chauhan (Architecture), Fatimah Abboud (Architecture), Hu Lin (Architecture)


Luxury Dirt Team (Aachen University of Applied Sciences): Ulrike Rechmann (Design), Julia Roß (Design)

Wasteland Team (BerlinWeißensee School of Art): Julia Pietschmann (Design), Henriette Artz (Design), Sebastian Jehl (Design)

‘Mainstay of Democracy’ or Mindless Papers with Opinion-Forming Power? Team (fraujansen kommunikation): Angela Jansen (Design), Dr. Christian Gotthardt (Sociologist), Dr. Gert Hautsch (Journalist), Gerd Siebecke (Journalist)

The Sea-Level is Rising Team (Berlin): Niklas Kuhlendahl (Architect), Max Soneryd (Artist)

Data is a Matter of Perspective Team (Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Kiel): Uwe Steffen (Design), Benedikt Schipper (Design)

You can see the descriptions in German here

Hopefully next year we will see many more entries from the USA!


Learning From Otto Neurath See Here:


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