The humanitarian design nonprofit, Architecture for Humanity, initiates an international design competition every other year. The challenge calls upon designers to bring innovative solutions to issues in the built environment that impact the health, prosperity, and well-being of under-served communities. Given that just days ago the last US troops withdrew from Iraq, this year’s competition addresses an extremely relevant issue. Open Architecture Challenge: [UN]RESTRICTED ACCESS will have the architectural design world turning its attention upon closed, abandoned, and decommissioned military sites over the next six months.
Bases, barracks, bunkers, citadels, fortresses, fortifications, navy yards, outposts, and training facilities which are no longer used by military entities dot the global landscape. These sites are sometimes demolished, but are often left unoccupied, posing hazards to communities and even costing billions of dollars for their upkeep. In the US alone, more than 235 military sites comprising 12 million square feet of space were scheduled for closure or realignment this year. This poses a poignant opportunity for communities to reclaim these former military spaces for purposes of civic engagement.
Architecture for Humanity encourages entrants to [UN]RESTRICTED ACCESS to locate an abandoned, closed, or decommissioned military facility in their own locale, or even consider a facility that is scheduled for closure. Design teams may also choose from a list of approved facilities including Guantanamo Bay Detention Center in Cuba, Naval Support Activity “East Bank” in New Orleans, and Marine Corps Air Station in Okinawa among others. Design teams must partner with affected communities to develop strategies for transforming these symbols of defense, triumph, and even aggression into economic, environmental, and socially sustainable opportunities. In addition to the use of these triple bottom line principles, the competition will judge entrants upon contextual appropriateness and the general quality of the design.
This year’s Open Architecture Challenge, supported by a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, was launched on October 18th of this year. Design teams have until May 1st, 2012 to submit their proposals. Thus far 80 teams in 32 countries have already registered. Through [UN]RESTRICTED ACCESS, Architecture for Humanity is seeking once again to harness the expertise of architects and designers to bring strategic advantage to under-served communities through good design. Be sure to enter your team before the March 1st, 2021 registration deadline, and challenge yourself to re-imagine the world’s bastions of war.