International Classroom Design Competition Launched

Feb. 23, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – Worldwide, 776 million people are illiterate. To address this crisis by providing access to a quality education for all children, there is an urgent need to upgrade the crumbling infrastructure of tens of millions of existing classrooms, and build 10 million new classrooms. Meeting this challenge represents the largest building project the world has ever undertaken. In response, Orient Global, Architecture for Humanity and a consortium of partners are launching the 2009 Open Architecture Challenge: Classroom (, the first large-scale initiative to improve the design of classrooms around the world.

The 2009 Open Architecture Challenge invites the global design and construction community to collaborate with primary and secondary school teachers and students to create safer, healthier and smarter learning environments.

Teams can partner with a school of their choice or design a classroom for one of our school-building partners.

"Orient Global believes that education is the first step on the bridge to prosperity, yet it is inaccessible to many and is of poor quality for tens of millions," says Richard Chandler, chairman of Orient Global. "The 2009 Open Architecture Challenge is an exciting opportunity to better understand and serve the needs of schoolchildren worldwide, enhancing learning environments and delivering the knowledge and skills necessary to cross the bridge to a brighter future."

"What sets this competition apart from others is that we are calling upon the design community to collaborate directly with schools to improve their own classrooms," adds Cameron Sinclair, executive director and co-founder, Architecture for Humanity. "By creating hundreds of locally appropriate and tangible solutions, we create a portfolio of designs for partners such as Orient Global and others to begin to scale globally."

The winning school will receive up to $50,000 to build or improve its classrooms and its design team will receive a $5,000 grant to help make it happen. The design competition will be judged by an international, inter-disciplinary panel of experts in the fields of both education and architecture (including students themselves). The resulting entries will be available and accessible to all on the Open Architecture Network (

Additionally, the challenge offers a companion design curriculum geared for primary and secondary age students hosted by online partner Curriki (, as well as a series of video conferences between primary and secondary students and notable design professionals from around the world hosted by partner Global Nomads Group ( These conversations will be shared as webcasts during the submission period. By inviting design professionals to partner with schools, the challenge aims to inspire students around the world to become visionary architects and engineers of the future.

2009 Open Architecture Challenge: Classroom

  • Registration Ends: May 1, 2009 
  • Entries Due: June 1, 2009 
  • Open to: Design professionals and non-professionals in partnership with primary and secondary school teachers and students. 
  • Entry Fee: $25 per entry (fee waiver for entrants from developing nations). 
  • Jury: Leaders in education and architecture (including students) to be hosted online and at the 2009 Aspen Ideas Festival. 
  • School Award: The winning entry will receive up to $50,000 to build or improve classrooms for their school. 
  • Design Award: The winning design team will receive a grant of up to $5,000 to help their school build or improve classrooms.

For more information or to register, visit

About the Open Architecture Challenge

The Open Architecture Challenge brings public attention to inequities in the built environment affecting the health, prosperity and well-being of under-served communities. The challenge is an open international design competition hosted on the Open Architecture Network every two years. All are invited to participate. Funding from partners and sponsors goes toward constructing the winning designs. The Open Architecture Network and the Open Architecture Challenge are programs of Architecture for Humanity, a 501(c)3 charitable organization that seeks architectural solutions to humanitarian crisis and brings design services to communities in need. For more information, visit

Source: Architecture for Humanity (

For additional information, contact Diana Bianchini of Architecture for Humanity, (310) 288-0077, [email protected]; or Simon Kearney of Orient Global, 65-9113-6412, [email protected].

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