DIDI and Dubai Holding hunt for design ideas from UAE school students

The UAE’s largest design challenge for schools is approaching its climax. Run by the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation under the label Project Design Space, this year is its third season; some 4,000 participating students aged 11 to 18 years from 70 schools across the UAE were invited to design concepts for experiential play and learning spaces.

It’s obviously catching on: last year around 1,200 high school students across 50 UAE schools took part.

Project Design Space sets itself apart from other innovation clubs by offering student teams the rare opportunity to work on real design projects. Participating schools select one or two teacher sponsors who receive all programme materials and learn tools for teaching students how to think and work like designers; the teachers then work with student teams during after-school meetings to coach them as they design solutions for their clients.

Project Design Space is looking for ideas that “have the potential to make a lasting impact on the city”. Although the catchment is UAE-wide, the focus is very definitely on Dubai – not only is the programme being run by DIDI, it’s sponsored and supported by Dubai Holding, the principal investment arm of the state of Dubai (and incidentally the ultimate owner of the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation).

Shortlisted teams attended a design ‘boot camp’ hosted by DIDI, where they received feedback and coaching from faculty and staff. Finalists will be invited to present on 23 March at DIDI’s campus.

The only requirements for projects were that submissions should be both educational and fun, should be accessible to and inclusive of different skill levels and abilities, and should have “the goal of building a lasting legacy for the people of Dubai”. So no pressure there then.

Amit Kaushal, CEO of Dubai Holding, said: “DIDI’s Project Design Space is an excellent initiative that will give the next generation of designers an opportunity to work alongside professional designers and specialists, and be exposed to real-world projects.

“As an organisation, Dubai Holding is proud to support this initiative and we look forward to share our knowledge and expertise with some of the nation’s brightest young minds.”

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