Now Taking Submissions: A Universal Design Challenge That Can Actually Make a Difference

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By Paige Alexus / Published by Dwell
For the second year in a row, Home Matters will be hosting a compelling design competition that will challenge architects and designers to create new housing standards and solutions related to universal design practices.

In partnership with San Francisco’s AIA chapter and co-presented by AARP, AARP Foundation, and Wells Fargo, the competition titled Re-Defining Home: Home Today, Home Tomorrow, is looking for design professionals who feel strongly about creating a good example of how to address a wide range of people’s needs in ways that take into account various stages of their lives.

Last year’s Home Matters design challenge focused on the future of affordable housing and communities, and named DeOld Andersen Architecture’s urban community design as the first place winner. What makes this year’s competition so unique is the fact that the winning architect will be given the opportunity to actually implement his or her ideas into a real-life renovation in Memphis, Tennessee. Candidates are asked to create a universal design specifically for a small house that’s in need of some serious updates. After the winner is chosen at the end of May, they will be tasked with renovating the home, that will then be offered to a family in need. The top three winners will also be given monetary prizes and the chance for their plans to be included in a special design challenge toolkit that will outline the discoveries made throughout the process.

We’re proud to announce that one of our very own editors, Allie Weiss, will be on the judging panel and will have the opportunity to explore all the submissions along with a group of experienced design professionals. Stay tuned for the announcement of the first, second, and third place winners at the end of May—followed by the unveiling of the renovated home that will be offered to a deserving family by the beginning of 2017.

Take a look at this video to hear from Richard Duncan, a universal design expert who has studied architectural and product accessibility for the last 30 years. He’ll take you to the Memphis house as it exists today and walk you through what the architects have to work with. If you’re interested in participating, make sure to submit your design to Home Matters by April 29th.