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Jan 27–28, 2020 Goa, IN


Kokum hosted a Social Design Festival (aSDF2020) in Goa from February 17-21, 2020. This comprised of three-day workshops leading to a two-day seminar. It evoked a response through a journey of empathy, allowing participants to take home realisations and design ideas that can make a difference.


The seven workshops were under the following verticals:

#1 Design + Environment

#2 Design + Institutes of Learning

#3 Design + Cities

#4 Design + Products for Waste Recovery

#5 Design + Learning Space

#6 Design + Craft

#7 Design + Resilience


Below is a summary that highlights the big ideas that emerged from the rich and varied results of this experience.


17 - 18 - 19 FEB 2020     I     7 WORKSHOPS     I     3 DAYS

#1 'Goa is best understood through its waterways.'

Goa really should be considered as a series of networks of habitats – towns, cities and villages that are connected via waterways and roads and inhabited by highly mobile populations. These have always shaped how local and regional markets emerge and expand, connecting villages and urban hubs in very dynamic ways.

#2 When architecture considers birds as equal stakeholders and users of spaces.

The idea is to consider bird conservation and architecture as one, especially in the light of the habitat loss that each new construction brings with it.

To try and understand how it feels to be an avian being.

Look at how birds navigate and move through space.

Then spatially articulate the experience.

#3 Vibrant streetscapes democratize mobility, increase urban biodiversity and help resolve flooding.

To address inclusive mobility and urban flooding in Panjim, several strategies were conceived to be implemented in a phased manner through a participatory process. Street design using universal design principles would ensure greater social inclusion (for persons of all ages, gender and differently-abled), while encouraging activities that create a vibrant space for tourists and locals alike.

#4 EMPOWER waste collectors.

Participants identified certain need gap areas after spending time visiting sites and observing collection systems in operation. Their diverse backgrounds enabled the selection of unique problem areas for action from vastly different points of view. Several solutions emerged which serve as a brief for any ensuing projects, all fitting broadly into two themes.


# EMPOWER waste collectors and build a sense of # OWNERSHIP, allowing opportunities for social mobility.

# ENGAGE with the public and generate AWARENESS of waste management practices.

#5 A ‘Pattern Language’ for Anganwadis.

The intent was to generate a ‘pattern language’ – a set of design principles to create an ideal environment for a child-friendly Anganwadi. It organized and described six patterns on location, space, programme and communication. 

#6 Craft as therapy.

Through the workshop at aSDF it was understood that craft and its processes were central to what makes us human.


Craft is a timeless activity, predating disciplines like Architecture and Design, with a lot more to offer in our current time of need. The interaction with the traditional weavers at Cotigao stressed the peaceful and meditative aspects of craft, an artefact for personal use only, not for sale. This aspect was brought to focus in our touch starved world, where craft could be seen as a means of therapy or meditation to increase concentration, mindfulness and engagement with the self while also providing a digital detox.

#7 REVIVE space for city rivers.

The coastal settlement of Panaji offers an important opportunity to develop such mitigation strategies, where land and water are not seen as a duality – where the water is restricted and contained from the land – but as a more interrelated system.

Traditional settlement and land management patterns of the region where water is allowed to expand, spread and finally be absorbed within the land system are important frameworks to understand, revive and adapt to meet current development challenges.

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people were engaged
during the course of five
days of aSDF.

of the participants were
from outside Goa.

were satisfied
or very satisfied
with aSDF 2020.

were interested in
further engagement.

plan to
attend the next aSDF.


The conference was all about celebrating people’s passionate journeys, highlighting successes and encouraging connections between similar perspectives. It demonstrated the many ways design has been used to address social and environmental issues, mostly in India.


Speakers described their challenges and opportunities, serving as an inspiration to many.
This conference worked broadly within three themes:
#1 Environment and Governance
#2 Craft and Economy
#3 Media and Communication

It resulted in a meeting of minds, collaborations, Q&As, and a palpable sense of positivity at the end of each day.