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RCA Grand Challenge 2023/24: ‘Ocean & Cities’ Shortlist Revealed

The Royal College of Art (@RCA) has today announced the shortlist of its 2023/24 Grand Challenge: Ocean & Cities. Students across the RCA’s School of Design are exploring London as a coastal city using co-design with local communities to address complex and urgent challenges. The RCA Grand Challenge 2023/24 is part of the RCA’s work as a UNESCO Ocean Decade Implementing Partner, supporting efforts to reverse the cycle of decline in ocean health.

The RCA Grand Challenge is the biggest single-institution postgraduate design project in the world. The initiative promotes interdisciplinary collaboration across School of Design programmes to address ocean-related challenges of broader societal relevance. This year, close to 700 students are taking part from MA programmes as diverse as Design Products, Fashion, Innovation Design Engineering, Intelligent Mobility, Service Design and Textiles.

The RCA Grand Challenge 2023/24: Ocean & Cities, brings London closer to the ocean, exploring a wide range of design challenges at the interface of land and sea. The projects support behaviour change among citizens and organisations through the use of ocean science, co-design and place-based approaches to address the impacts of cities on the ocean and increase city resilience to ocean-related impacts of climate change.

Exploring London as a coastal city, students defined specific challenges to address, from the protection of marine ecosystems and flood mitigation to sustainable fishing and increased ocean literacy. In January, 140 student teams partnered with communities across each of London’s 32 boroughs and the City of London to engage with different forms of ocean science.

The student groups have submitted video presentations of their designs and 13 projects have been selected for the shortlist. These creative speculative design proposals demonstrate the effectiveness of a community-centred approach to design and address a range of topics including flood mitigation, sustainable packaging in collaboration with the seafood industry, and reducing fatbergs in sewage systems.

From 21-27 March 2024 (excluding 24 March), a Grand Challenge exhibition showcasing the shortlisted projects to the public will be open in The Hangar at the RCA Battersea campus. Three winning projects will be chosen on 20 March by a judging panel including representatives from DEFRA, NOC, UNESCO, and Wandsworth Council.

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