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AIA SPP Small Project Design Competition – POP-UP 2015



The AIA Small Project Practitioners invites AIA, Assoc. AIA and architecture students to submit design ideas to the 2015 SPP Small Project Design Competition – POP-UP 2015

In this unique design competition, submitters are asked to design a discreet, compact and efficient shelter for the homeless.

Winners will be announced in February 2015 and will be expected to build and then assemble the winning design in Atlanta where it will be displayed at the convention center, or nearby, during the 2015 AIA National Convention in Atlanta GA – May 14-16 2015. A travel stipend and construction budget will be provided.

Award winning projects will be recognized in AIA publications and electronic media, including the SPP Journal and website.

The fully constructed and completed winning design will be donated to the local non-for-profit partner, The Mad Housers (, for use by their clients and program participants.

Please join us this year in submitting your project for the 2015 AIA Small Project Design Competition.


Download the Concealed ID form »
Download the Submission Preview »

The deadline to submit is FEBRUARY 16, 2015 by 4:59 PM EST.

View Past Award Winners »

** International registrants, please register via the international application form ( DOWNLOAD HERE ) as you will have trouble with our online system.

Frequently asked questions are addressed below. Additional enquiries may be directed to



About the Competition

Homelessness is an issue across this country. Walk through any city, look down the alleys, around the hidden corners and into the dark recessed doorways and you will find people struggling to survive, simply needing a roof over their heads for the night. People who are homeless are most often unable to acquire and maintain regular, safe, secure and adequate housing, or lack of fixed regular, and adequate nighttime residence.

According to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs 2009 Report on Homelessness, 21,000 people are homeless on any given night in the state of Georgia. More than half are unsheltered and veterans make up 12% of that population.

Because homelessness is an extreme consequence of poverty, its solutions must include affordable housing, along with employment or mainstream benefits sufficient to maintain housing stability. When disabilities put people at risk for continued or recurring homelessness, outreach and services play a crucial part in getting them into housing and helping them stay there. For many individuals, homeless prevention is an incremental process. Safety and stability are key elements in establishing and maintaining a path towards the rebuilding of an independent and self-supporting life.

Design Problem

Architecture is at its core, the design and creation of shelter. A simple safe and secure place to sleep and keep belongings is critical to anyone forced to live on the streets. The goal is to design a safe place for someone to take the first step toward getting things back in order and on a path to the life they want to lead.

Design Parameters

Competition participants can select any of the three design problems listed below (A, B or C), or more than one if they are so inclined. Each proposal will be considered a separate entry.

Each of the proposed design solutions should consider the following:

A – Un-Secured Shelter:

    1. Human-portable

    2. Able to be securely locked down (fence, post, pole)

    3. Provide a place to sleep

    a. Secure enough to sleep in it without worry of assault

    4. Provide a place to store belongings

    a. Secure enough to leave it without worry of theft or destruction

B – Semi-Secure Shelter:

    1. Permanent in nature (will not be moved around daily)

    2. Uses standard size building material

    3. Accommodates a twin mattress

    4. Has room for the occupants’ belongings

    5. Lockable

    6. Inconspicuous, blends in well with its environment

    7. Allows the safe addition of an active heating source (usually fire)

C – Shared Facility:

Mad Housers has developed and refined a prototype called the HUT for the last 20 years. Often small groupings of these shelters occur and a micro-community is born. What becomes necessary is a shared facility for Sanitation, Nutrition and Power, which includes:

    1. Cleaning clothing and belongings

    2. Cleaning oneself

    3. Storing, cleaning and preparing food

    4. Charging phones


    1. Inexpensive to construct –under $500 a unit

    2. Able to be built by amateurs without specialized equipment

    3. Temporary. No foundation or any other way of tying the shelter to the earth.

    4. Will protect the occupant from the elements, through all seasons

Submissions must consider sustainable materials, the skill set of the volunteers and the available local materials and conditions.

Submission Requirements

Entries may be submitted between December 18th 2014 and February 16th 2015. Carefully review the 2015 Submission Preview before submitting your payment. You CANNOT go back and edit your entry once submitted. Gather all necessary materials before beginning your submission, including a signed Concealed ID form.

All submissions should contain original content.

All entries must be submitted without identifying marks, including logos, text, insignia, or images on the display surface that could be used to identify the submission’s author(s).


1. Written description of design solution – 250 words or less, describing your design solution

2. One (1) presentation board (24”x36”) portrait oriented at 150dpi in PDF format and saved as a single PDF file less than 10MB in size. To ensure legibility in jurying and publications, all fonts must be 18 point or larger.

    a. The presentation board must contain the following material:

    1. Plan

    2. Elevations or Perspectives

    3. Section

    4. Details

    5. Assembly diagram

    6. Construction cost breakdown

    7. Material selections

3. One (1) high resolution IMAGE which represents your submission best.

4. A completed concealed identification form identifying and describing the design team. Provide contact information on each member.

5. Entry fee, per submission, of $75.00 (AIA Members) / $150.00 (Non-Members)


This Design Competition is open to AIA, Assoc. AIA, and architecture students, with the following exclusions:

    • Any person whose relationship to a juror might affect the juror’s impartiality in carrying out his/her responsibilities. These include, but are not limited to, members and employees of juror’s firm, close business associates or jurors, juror’s students, close relatives of jurors, and any employee of the AIA or any AIA component.

    • Entries shall not have been previously published in any competition publication, whether printed, online or otherwise.

    • Entries shall not have been selected as finalists, winner, honorable mention, etc. in any other competition.

If the design is submitted by a team of people, ALL team members must be identified on the concealed identification form.

Judging Criteria

The jury will review the submission and select the finalists based on these criteria:

    • Compliance with all submission requirements

    • Adherence to the design parameters

    • Aesthetic merit

    • Constructability and suitability of design for intended use

Decisions of the Jury are final.

Prizes & Recognition

    1. Up to $1,000.00 to construct and ship the winning design prototype for display in Atlanta

    2. One round-trip airline ticket, up to $600.00 in value, to the 2015 AIA National Convention in Atlanta, GA – from anywhere within the continental United States. If the winner lives within driving distance or train distance from Atlanta, or otherwise cannot use a plane ticket, s/he may elect to receive the alternate prize of free admission to the AIA National Convention in Atlanta for one person.

    3. Convention hotel accommodation, for one person, for three (3) nights – May 13 – 15, 2015

    4. Publication of winning design in the SPP Journal email newsletter

    5. Winning design to be showcased at the Convention center

2015 Deadline & Entry Fee

The deadline for submission completion is FEBRUARY 16, 2015 before 5:00 PM Eastern.


December 20, 2014 / Competition opens - Online submissions site open

FEBRUARY 16, 2015 / Competition submission site closes

February 20, 2015 / Winners are announced

May 13th, 2015 / Winning design is erected at the AIA 2015 National Convention

All deadlines are strictly observed.

The non-refundable entry fee per submission for this program is $75.00 for AIA Members / $150 for Non-Members.


Download the Concealed ID form »
Download the Submission Preview »

The deadline to submit is FEBRUARY 16, 2015 by 4:59 PM EST.

Questions may be directed to




Do I have to start and finish my submission in one session?

Yes. You must complete your submission in one session. You can start your submission any time before the deadline date of 5:00 pm Eastern Time on FEBRUARY 16, 2015.

How will I know my submission has been received?

Upon submitting your entry, you will receive a confirmation e-mail message containing your submission details.

What should I do if I did not receive a confirmation e-mail containing my submission details?

First, check your junk mail folder – the most likely problem is that your spam filter sent the e-mail from to your junk mail. You should change your account settings to accept future e-mail from us. If it did not go into your junk mail folder, please contact for assistance.

What kinds of projects have won in the past?

View Past Award Winners »

Please note:
Each year of the competition solves a unique design problem. No two competitions will address the same the topic so use the former award winners as inspiration, but not as a template.

Can international (non-US) applicants enter the competition?

Yes! International applications are accepted and encouraged. In order to submit an international entry, please complete the international application form ( DOWNLOAD HERE ) and return it via email to


The Jury will be made up of four (4) members: 2 licensed architects, a farmer, and a member of the partner non-profit:

Kwanza Hall
Atlanta City Councilman for District 2

Nick Hess
The Mad Housers –beneficiary of winning design

William Carpenter, FAIA
Lightroom - Atlanta Architect

Bart Shaw
Shaw Architect, Winner of the SPP Pop-Up 2014

Joe A.
The Mad Housers Client

Willie Brown

The Mad Housers Client

Doug Hannah

YAF Representative

Questions may be directed to

Competition Point-of-Contact:
Ann Harris
Manager, Knowledge Communities

1735 New York Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20006


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