Discover the Power of Design with Joanne, Net Impact Fellow and Passionate Innovator

By: Net Impact staff | December 5, 2016

 Joanne Ng practicing impact design in the Dominican Republic.
Joanne Ng practicing impact design in the Dominican Republic.

Our Net Impact community continues to drive impact for a more just and sustainable world and we like to highlight members on our blog who are leading the change. 

Meet Joanne Ng.

In our office she is an impact design fellow, but beyond our walls she is a passionate innovator using creativity to design solutions that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but that are thoughtful in their social and environmental impacts.

Can you tell us more about your work on the Senegalese latrine design? 

The dry-toilet bathroom project for rural schools in Senegal came about when a couple of our team members met at a research symposium. One of our team members presented her detailed research on Menstrual Hygiene Management in West Africa, and the other two architecture students and I joined her to design a tangible solution to tackle the issue of the lack of access to sanitation facilities in rural school campuses. In our design, we focus on using local materials, placing the bathroom in an open, but safe environment, and designing an affordable solution that can be replicated in similar environments in the area. In March we received research funding to conduct field research and present our initial designs to UN Women and PEPAM, a governmental water and sanitation organization. We are also in the process of designing a web platform to serve as a research and project hub on Menstrual Hygiene Management to invite deeper conversations around the topic.

And how did you get involved with sustainable bamboo architecture?

The research on bamboo as a sustainable building material in the Dominican Republic was a part of my Architecture thesis: “Amplifying Architecture: Understanding and Designing for Social and Environmental Impact”. Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on earth, and is incredibly strong. Research has proven that bamboo has greater tensile strength than steel, and almost double the compressive strength of concrete. I wanted to learn about how we can take the abundance of this sustainable building material around the world to become as common as concrete, wood, and steel as building materials.

What inspired you to work for community development in the Dominican Republic?

As I learned more about different design approaches and methods, I became very interested in participatory and human-centered design. I feel that it is most important for designers to first listen to what the client actually wants and needs, create dialogue to understand the root causes of the wants and needs, and involve the community to take part in the design process of a product or building. I wanted to take the opportunity to live and work with the Haitian community in the Dominican Republic to learn about how to effectively design buildings such as community centers, housing, or schools, that serve as infrastructure of community development.

What advice would you give to someone launching their own project at work or school? 

Be curious and open-minded, and join the sticky conversations. Share your ideas and connect with other students and  professors, you might be surprised by the support you can find. Join Net Impact to be a part of a great community, I wish I  had known about Net Impact when I was in school.


If you were given an extra hour every day, what would you do with it?

Learn another language!


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