Lexus Design Award 2020 belltower

Kenyan clean water hubs win Lexus Design Award 2020

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BellTower, from Kenya, is the Grand Prix winner of the Lexus Design Award 2020, with its Open Source Communities project selected from more than 2,000 entries received from 79 countries worldwide.

The winning design addresses challenges often found in developing countries by using smart open-source planning to design affordable communities with sustainable clean water resources.

BellTower was established in 2014 with the vision of using open source systems and technologies to solve problems – its team offering skills in risk management, information technology, design, project management and strategy.

Judging for the eighth edition of the award was based on the three key principles of the Lexus brand: Anticipate, Innovate and Captivate in the quest for a Better Tomorrow.

Announcing the panel’s decision, Lexus Design Award judge and Studio Gang Founding Principal, Jeanne Gang, said: “At different moments in time, design has celebrated bold aesthetics, extreme functionality, and even humour and wit. But today, with our world plagued by the enormous issues of climate change and social inequality, there is a design imperative for systemic design solutions.

“The Grand Prix winner expands our definition of design to include systems of finance for community projects and engages the critical role clean drinking water plays in citizens’ ability to thrive.

“By addressing the way that the project will come into being and be sustained economically, the designers broaden our thinking about what design is and could be.

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“While the project is an apparatus to collect and store rainwater for safe drinking, it is also a financial game plan for empowering a community.”

Accepting the award on behalf of BellTower, John Brian Kamau said: “It was a great honour for us as BellTower to be one of the six finalists and then win the Grand Prix in the Lexus Design Award 2020. Our journey began with many challenges.

“However, we persevered to showcase our ambitious concept. Our experience has taught us invaluable lifelong lessons. All our future designs will be aligned with the key principles we learned as part of the Lexus family.”

This year, given the exceptional circumstances created by the Covid-19 pandemic, Lexus hosted a virtual judging process and the Grand Prix winner was announced after each of the six international finalists made a presentation to the award judges explaining how their design would help create a better tomorrow.

The trophy presented to the winner was designed by Hideki Yoshimoto, a winner of the Lexus Design Award 2013 and now an established professional designer, based in London.


The 2021 Lexus Design Award has opened its inbox for entries to the ninth edition of its international design competition.

Closure for entries is on 11 October 2020. Full details on how to take part can be found here.


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