Architecture for Humanity launches competition to re-purpose closed, abandoned and decommissioning military sites

Architecture for Humanity has launched the 2011 Open Architecture Challenge: [UN] RESTRICTED ACCESS, asking architects and designers to partner with community groups across the world and develop innovative solutions to re-envision closed, abandoned and decommissioning military sites. The six-month competition requires designers to work with the communities surrounding these former places of conflict to transform hostile and oftentimes painful locations, into civic spaces built for the public good.

Dotting the global landscape, decommissioned military installations leave their mark. They are symbols of triumph, pride, pain and the unforeseen consequences of military aggression. These abandoned structures and ghost towns disrupt neighborhoods and split entire communities.

While these sites are often laid to waste, Architecture for Humanity sees these as an opportunity of global proportion. In the U.S. alone we will spend billions of dollars of taxpayers funds to do environmental remediation on the 12 millions square feet of U.S. military space scheduled to close this year. Can we use this opportunity to bring economic stability to areas deserted by closed bases?

Globally we see opportunity at every site. Can we re-envision the 750,000+ abandoned bunkers that pepper the Albanian landscape? Is there a second life for the recently bombed Libyan military strongholds? Can we use environmental diplomacy to use re-imagined Guantanamo Bay Detention Center? Is there a way to turn abandoned bases in Afghanistan into places of learning?

The 2011 Open Architecture Challenge will seek to provide solutions to these unanswered questions and will re-envision the future of decommissioned military space. This is an open call to action – and the first of its kind. Architecture for Humanity will ask the global design and construction community to identify retired military installations in their own backyard, to collaborate with local stakeholders, and to reclaim these spaces for social, economic, and environmental good.

If a team does not live near a decommissioned site we have selected sites in Afghanistan, Cuba, Libya and the United States.

“This is an incredible opportunity to transform places of defense into spaces of public good”, noted Cameron Sinclair, co-founder of Architecture for Humanity “Through this competition we have the opportunity to create strong anchors in communities that will generate thousands of jobs and bring economic stability to those who surround these sites.”

In partnership with Google SketchUp and Google Earth, designers are able to present their ideas in the most impressive form no matter their location or economic capacity.

The design competition will be judged by an international, inter-disciplinary panel of experts in various fields, such as experts in base realignment processing, real estate and building professionals, former world leaders, and members of communities that have experienced a base closure or demilitarized site.

The resulting entries will be available and accessible to all on the Open Architecture Network (

Competition Details:

Registration Ends                      March 31, 2012

Submission Deadline                 May 01, 2012

Semi-Finalists Announced         June 01, 2012

Winners Announced                 June 29, 2012

Exhibitions                                Fall 2012

Who Can Enter: Open to all.

Entry Fee:

  • $50 Professionals
  • $25 Students
  • $00 Entries from Developing Nations
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