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Urban SOS : Transformations

This open student ideas competition seeks to engage students in the design, planning, architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, engineering, environmental and related fields, with the urban conditions that are now facing the majority of the world’s population.

This year, Urban SOS is exploring the topic of ‘Transformations,’ looking at seven cities in particular that are in the midst of a change or collection of changes that represent both challenges and opportunities to the shared futures of each city.

The competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students at all levels of higher education in all countries of the world.


This is your opportunity to compete with the best young thinkers out there in the world of integrated place-making, and your work will come to the attention of the best professionals in the process. The experience will be challenging, exciting and fun.

You must submit a site redevelopment plan that addresses specific issues in one of the following seven cities:

  • Beijing, China
  • Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Istanbul, Turkey
  • Phoenix, USA
  • Port au Prince, Haïti
  • São Paulo, Brazil

Responses will be judged based on these criteria:

  • Response directly answers stated question for chosen city
  • Clear strategy for how proposal will affect larger city’s transformative state
  • Clear sense of how proposed design will affect transformation of site
  • Holistic approach to design that fully embraces site
  • Appreciation for interdisciplinary thinking beyond traditional practice
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Feasibility and viability
  • Ability to communicate ideas in a clear, interesting and compelling manner


The top four finalist/teams will travel to Barcelona to attend the World Architecture Festival from 3-5 November, 2010, with $20,000 in prize money at stake.


  • The competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students at all levels of higher education in all countries of the world.
  • Entrants must be enrolled in a certified degree programme during the Autumn 2010 term.
    • Levels: Bachelors, Masters, Ph.D. students.
    • Fields of Study: Architecture, Urban and Regional Planning, Urban Design, Landscape Architecture, Economics, Environmental Science, Engineering, and related disciplines.
  • Submissions may be from individuals or teams of up to 4 members. Teams will benefit from having members of multiple disciplines.

How to enter?

Apply and submit via the official website.