Google, Gehry and BMW among Designs of the Year 2015 nominations

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The nominations for the London Design Museum's Designs of the Year 2015 have been announced

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London's Design Museum has announced the nominations for its Designs of the Year 2015. Now in its eighth year, the awards recognize innovative, interesting and forward-looking designs from the last 12 months that promote or deliver change, enable access, extends design practice or capture the spirit of the year in the categories of architecture, digital, fashion, product, graphics and transport.

Last year's overall winner was Zaha Hadid's Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku, Azerbaijan. Amongst the other category winners were the Portable Eye Examination Kit (PEEK) for eye examinations, the Seaboard Grand piano keyboard and Volkswagen's efficient XL1 car. This year, a total of 76 projects have been nominated, all having been delivered between November 2013 and November 2014.

We've selected a few of the nominations that caught our eye, some of which had done so previously.

Architecture

Beijing No.4 High School Fangshan Campus, otherwise known as the Garden School, was designed by Open Architecture. It is part of a wider scheme to build a healthy and sustainable town outside Beijing and has an organic farm on its roof.

Designed by Frank Gehry, the Fondation Louis Vuitton opened last year as a new space for art and culture in Paris, France. The building features twelve huge glass sails with a total surface area of 13,500 sq m (145,300 sq ft).

House for Trees is located in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and seeks to bring greenery back into a built-up area. Designed by Vo Trong Nghia Architects, it has green roofs and rooftop trees incorporated into its design.

MVRDV's Markthal in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, is a covered market. The structure itself is a huge arch that not only provides shelter for the market, but houses residential apartments. Glass fa├žades at each end let light in and give the impression of the market being open.

One Central Park in Sydney, Australia, is a sustainable mixed-use development. Along with features such as water recycling and a tri-generation energy plant, it features a vertical garden and a heliostat frame for redirecting sunlight onto the gardens below.

The Waterbank Campus, designed by PitchAfrica, is a school designed specifically for semi-arid regions. In addition to providing education spaces, the buildings are designed to collect, store and filter water for irrigation use.

Digital

Megafaces is an artwork that debuted at the Sochi Olympics. Created by Asif Khan, it comprises a large LED display, small areas of which move outwards. Individuals can have their faces scanned and a portrait is created using both the screen's graphic and 3D capabilities.

Responsive Street Furniture is designed to make streets easier to use for disabled people. Users can register their smartphone or a key fob and then request services that are activated when they approach, such as additional places to sit, brighter street lighting or longer crossing times at traffic lights.

Boyan Slat's Ocean Cleanup seeks to rid our oceans of plastic waste. The project would use natural ocean currents to push the debris into long barriers on the surface of the water. These would direct the pieces of plastic towards a central platform where they could be collected.

Product

The Air-Purifying Billboard looks like a regular billboard but has built-in technology that purifies the air around it at a rate of 100,000 cubic meters per day. That is claimed to be equivalent to the work of 1,200 mature trees.

Designed by The Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) and Vienna-based design firm EOOS, the Blue Diversion is essentially an off-grid toilet. It separates urine, feces and flush water before storing the first two for the production of fertilizer and processing the water for reuse.

Bioengineers from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have created a miniature platform and software, which mimic the mechanical and molecular characteristics of human organs. Organs-on-Chips seeks to help analyze the impact drugs have on different organs as they are distributed and metabolized throughout the body.

Project Daniel is a 3D-printing lab for creating prostheses that was set up in Sudan after a teenage boy lost his arms in a bomb blast. In addition to providing artificial limbs for people, the project has provided equipment and trained individuals to use it.

Transport

Google now has a first complete prototype of its Self-Driving Car. The company expects the car, replete with a host of sensors, to hit the streets of California for testing this year.

BMW's plug-in hybrid sports car, the i8, is slick, quick and sustainable. A variety of innovations come together to create the vehicle, including a lightweight body, an aerodynamic design and BMW's eDrive technology.

The Tesla Model S is an all-electric premium sedan with plenty of power and range. It is packed with technology, including dual front and rear motors, a forward looking camera, radar and 360 degree sonar sensors.

That is just a selection of the 76 nominees in four of the six categories being contested (we didn't look at any from the fashion and graphics categories), with an exhibition showcasing the nominees to run from March 25 to August 23 at The Design Museum.

The jury for selecting this year's winners includes artist Anish Kapoor (Chair), sculptor and fashion designer Nicole Farhi and architect and professor at Harvard Graduate School of Design Farshid Moussavi. Category winners will be announced on May 4, with the overall winner being revealed at a Design Museum event on June 4.

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