Glasgow School of Art
Social Design

The Habitat Education and Restoration Agency (H.E.R.A.) draws attention to how our environment influences our behavioural habits and makes a statement that wellbeing and future thinking should no longer be a luxury. This speculative system is placed in a preferable future within an area between the urban and the rural, called the Sustainable Belt, dedicated to educating the population on sustainable and symbiotic living. The selection of artefacts makes up a personalised introductory kit for newcomers to the Sustainable Belt. In a tangible manner, it manifests the identity of the traveller and becomes a support mechanism throughout their stay.

With the move to a self-sufficient sustainable environment, H.E.R.A. aims to shift people’s understanding and relationships with their land. As a future vision of sustainable work practice on a micro and macro level, it puts the responsibility of creating a healthier landscape on each individual across society. This environmental structure could be implemented around every major city and would engage each citizen through an obligatory service, along with a possibility of gradually revisiting the compounds throughout their life. Through habitual practice, H.E.R.A. aims to strengthen and restore the lost connection to our landscape.

Driven to create an environmental heritage through rituals, I began drafting scenarios of a preferable future and asking 'what kind of world would we want to live in'? Critical discussions with sustainable development experts accentuated the fact that wellbeing and future thinking is a luxury that is not affordable for many, especially in the Global South. The aim of the project was to then make sustainable practice and knowledge accessible to all; ultimately making it a societal value.

At the developmental stage of the project, I have explored with various system mapping techniques to contextualise the proposal of the H.E.R.A. system. 3D pop up maps were an effective design tool for engaging and testing the user journey with the Sustainable Futures of Africa (SFA) network. By physically allowing experts to go through the matrix, they gradually explored how participants would transfer to the new environment, and have their profile run through Hera, an AI that then proposed suitable activities based on their skills, strengths and individualities.

By giving each citizen the chance to devote a stage of their lifetime to the Sustainable Belt, this government-funded organisation shows how an environmentally conscious mindset could spread across society. The project aims to equip and empower people to gain and grow their ecological knowledge and develop sustainable habitual behaviour that then can impact their local communities. The pictured H.E.R.A. application acts as a progress journal, archiving all data and materials gathered throughout the completed activities and workshops; acting as a memoir of the stay, with accessible expertise knowledge that participants can build on.

©2023 Nella Piatek. All rights reserved.