Cities for Our Time: an Urban Design Competition

Today, there’s new interest in living in the city, but also many challenges. High housing costs and limited supply have caused gentrification and overcrowding. Resource use still needs to be reduced for a truly sustainable ecosystem.

Do you have a radical yet practical design idea to make the place you live (or want to live) more sustainable, socially just, and perhaps also fun? It could be a new type of zoning for tiny houses, a rooftop gadget, a mixed use space rented by the hour, or re-imagining transportation in an entire metropolitan area. Ideas can be small, big, temporary, or permanent. But they should be site specific – a building, a block, a town, maybe a vehicle, and also not pure fantasy – a key part of the judging criteria will be how economically and politically feasible your plan is.

Entries will be put to a public vote on Facebook, and also judged by an interdisciplinary team of young professionals, students, and activists. Results will be published on this website and also in a book that will be available for purchase online.

1. The Site and Program

The site is up to you! All we ask is it be a real site. Even if your idea is meant for mass production, pick where you’ll prototype it. Likewise, the program is also up to you. On the board, state what issues you’re trying to address with your design, and explain why you chose it.

2. Dates, Fees, and Prizes

Register by: August 31, 2014 (Note: Competition is limited to the first 200 entrants due to book size limits.
Submit by: September 30, 2014
Entries posted / Voting begins: October 10, 2014
Voting closes: October 31, 2014
Winners announced / Book published: November 15, 2014

Eligibility: Anyone can enter, either individually or as a team. You can enter more than once, but a separate fee must be paid for each entry. You may enter work in this competition even if you have submitted it to another competition or published it elsewhere.

Entry Fees:
Design Professionals – $50
Everyone else – $25

Register online at Eventbrite
Registration processed by Eventbrite

We think that for any challenge, there’s more than 1 best solution, and our prize structure reflects that.
Top 5 Voter’s Choice: $100 each + copy of book
Top 5 Judge’s Choice: $100 each + copy of book

3. Submittal Requirements

Submittal will be via email. You will get the address to send it to after you register.

A.- Project Title (60 characters max)

B. – Two high resolution .jpg files, 000L.jpg and 000R.jpg, where 000 is your reg number.
–Dimensions: 7″ wide x 9″ high, 300 dpi (2100×2700 pixels)
–Use High / Maximum quality
–Any text in the image should be at least 1/8″ high. (9 pt / 38 pixels). See here for an example.
–These images will appear on two facing pages in the book.

C. – One 100dpi jpg, 000.jpg, that combines both 000L and 000R into one image. (1400 pixels wide x 900 pixels high)

D. – Text file 000.txt with name and email of primary contact, plus name of everyone who worked on your entry.
* any submission that doesn’t meet the requirements may be disqualified. We reserve the right to disqualify any entry. Disqualified entries will have fees refunded.

See below for a sample layout showing how your design will be displayed online and in the book.

Entrants grant the competition organizers a non-exclusive license to display their work on this competition website and to publish it in the competition book. Entrants retain copyright to their work and may use it elsewhere.

4. Judging Criteria

Basic Requirements: Safe and Accessible
As this is an ideas competition, designs don’t need to be fully compliant – but they should be close enough to be believable.
– All designs should comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. (3′ wide x 7′ high doors, 1:12 ramps or elevators, 5′ wheelchair turnarounds) Full ADA guidelines are at the ADA website.
– All designs should meet the building code exiting requirements (2 exits, 5′ wide hallways, etc.)

25% Ecological Sustainability
– Include both on-site and off-site impacts
– Consider energy, water, materials, air quality and noise, etc.

25% Social Justice
– How will the design affect existing neighbors?
– How will it affect people elsewhere in the region?
– Will people regardless of age, class, race, gender, and ability be able to enjoy it equally?

25% Economic Feasibility: Does it pencil out?
– Will this be something affordable to all, or just hipsters with trust funds?
– Include a rough cost and price, and some justification of how you got those numbers.
– Cost should include labor at local living wage, unless there is a good reason to expect volunteer labor.
– If financing is necessary, explain where it might come from and why funders will want to fund it.

25% Political Feasibility: Can you get away with it?
– How will you convince neighbors and the government to allow it?
– Ideas don’t have to be allowed by current zoning, but if not, explain how you’d make the case to the planning commission to allow a variance (maybe cite economic benefits or a general plan goal they have), or how you’d organize a referendum or get your elected representatives to change the laws.

5. Judges

We’re a group of recent graduates and students from UC Berkeley, spanning the class of 2006 to 2015.

Alfred Twu studied architecture and business at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State, and currently does a range of design, development, and IT work in the San Francisco Bay Area. Alfred also researches cooperative housing, creates educational comics and is currently working on PermaCities, an online game on permaculture and urban design.

Gary Ku is an architectural designer at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in New York. He studied architecture at the Yale School of Architecture, UC Berkeley, and the University of Copenhagen and has previously worked in Singapore, Paris, Chicago and San Francisco. He is currently studying how the rise of photorealistic representation has changed the direction of architectural development.

Adora Lo studied architecture at UC Berkeley and UCLA, and is currently a Model Designer for Merlin Entertainments. Adora lives in north county San Diego and is interested in LEGO as an art material, the representation of space in virtual media, and building models.

Pedram Haghighi studies architecture at UC Berkeley minoring in “City and Regional Planning” and “Sustainable Design”. Pedram lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and also researches on variety of topics concerning the architectural issues of the 21st century.

Kasia Jarmolowicz studied Architecture at UC Berkeley, and currently represents migrant farm workers and under-served populations living in the U.S. Kasia served in Peace Corps Bolivia, Ecuador, and the Galapagos Islands working with subsistence farmers and is experienced with sustainable design and (sustainable) agriculture.

Jacki Kingkade studied Interdisciplinary Studies at UC Berkeley with a concentration in Postcolonial Studies and has worked as a House Coordinator for the Berkeley Student Cooperative for the past year. She also contributed to the publication and distribution of Naked Bear, an educational magazine on eating sustainability at UC Berkeley.

Justin Tombolesi studied Interdisciplinary Studies and History at UC Berkeley with a focus on the financialization of the global economy and the effects of financial crisis on the everyday life of people including the right to housing. He was also a board member of the largest student housing cooperative in the country the Berkeley Student Cooperative and participates in anti-foreclosure activism in the Bay Area.

Tricia Tsuzuki studied landscape architecture, political ecology of natural resources, and sustainable design at UC Berkeley. Her interests include the relationship between design, environmental justice and human rights issues with a focus on food and water access and population dense coastal communities.
Dylan Baker studied urban planning, design, and ecology at UC Berkeley and has recently been working as a GIS analyst at the Institute for Transportation Studies. Over the past few years he has held multiple sustainability-related positions – as a supervisor of an environmental education program in the residence halls, care-taker at UC Berkeley’s botanical gardens, and blogging intern for a San Francisco based architecture and design firm.

Fabiola Rivera has been involved with affordable housing through her work with Habitat for Humanity in her hometown of Glendale, California and is a recipient of low income housing herself. She is presently a student of Sociology at UC Berkeley, focusing on the impact of social location and especially the influence of social policies on home ownership. For the past semester she worked as policy coordinator for the Berkeley Student Cooperative.

Competition Website

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