This week, people who define themselves as world leaders, gathered to discuss solutions to the world’s problems. And it isn’t clear if any were found. But out there, far away from the halls of the United Nations, ordinary folk are putting their design skills to good use. Among them is German architect, Anna Heringer who designed mud buildings in Bangladesh, one of the world’s poorest countries. No one knows whether Heringer’s buildings will survive the ravages of the next major monsoon but it’s nice to know she’s using her design skills to try to change the world. It is true that mud buildings have been around probably for as long as humans have been building shelters but Heringer’s design goes so beyond what we usually think of this genre. First of all, the buildings don’t look like mud. Secondly they are sturdy and moisture resistant. Using a combination of earth, straw and bamboo along with a technique called ferro cementing, the designer takes advantage of local materials and environmentally friendly construction methods to achieve a beautiful finished building. But it’s not all about mud buildings. The 2009 Open Architecture Challenge is urging designers around the world to make a difference through architecture.