The American city is rooted in its neighborhoods, public spaces, and infrastructure. Transforming the interstitial open spaces that characterize our cities can be a fundamental catalyst for community connectivity and socialization. When neglected or inaccessible, these vacant spaces become detrimental to neighborhood health and vitality. To address the needs of a diverse and changing urban population, space must adapt to the needs of a broader range of ages, physical abilities, and cultural backgrounds. Through small acts we can repurpose public space to be more universally accessible, inclusive, age friendly, and a builder of community.
Design one or more objects that can activate a vacant site, is universally accessible, and fosters multi-generational community interaction. Objects should not be limited to furniture or seating elements such as benches. We consider other structures that make a small space seem inviting, usable, and safe to be activators; including but not limited to: harvest tables, raised planters, play equipment, interactive sculptures. The goal of this installation is to continue the dialogue about open space and how design can be the catalyst for the creation of meaningful and joyful places that facilitate community engagement and growth.
Durability (one year in Chicago)
Ease of construction & deconstruction
Use of readily available or reused materials
Two 11×17 Boards, submitted as a PDF no larger than 5MB, including a plan, section/elevation and design detail. Please list the required materials and describe the build process.
Architecture for Humanity Chicago is pleased to announce the launch of the fourth annual ACTIVATE! Design Competition. This free and public competition challenges designers to redefine public space on a temporary basis and a budget of $1,000. ACTIVATE! 2013 will be a partnership with Chicago Department of Transportation as part of the ‘Make Way for People’ initiative and will focus on four sites across the city in Old Town, Pilsen, Woodlawn and East Garfield Park.
The ACTIVATE! designs will leverage community development through the implementation of small scale placemaking infrastructure. Similar installations from the organization’s competition have been shown to increase pedestrian activity, which can lead to increases in revenue to adjacent businesses and encourage multi-modal, healthy transportation. The goal of the competition is to increase access to open space and improve street safety for the community, while providing a replicable model for neighborhoods across Chicago and design organizations across the country.
The steward for this initiative, Architecture for Humanity Chicago firmly believes in the potential of ACTIVATE! to be used as a catalyst for economic development and as a public benefit amenity to all local merchants, residents, and visitors to the community. Previous winning installations have been featured in Landscape World, CS Magazine, Venice Biennale, Chicago Ideas Week and have resulted in the creation of new, permanent public space across the city.
For more information about the competition, please visit the competition website at: