2015 Tiny Home Community Ideas Competition

Download Competition Document: Activate14 Tiny Home Community Competition_Call for Ideas
PDF of Site Plan: Activate14 Tiny Home Competition_Site Plan
Questions and Answers: Tiny Homes Community Q&A

Revision 3/4/15: The prize is $1,500, and no monetary prize for merit award
Revision 4/9/15: Attached Q&A PDF

Promo FlyerMembers of the AIA North Carolina Activate14 committee and the Raleigh/Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness invite you to share your ideas on a new typology for urban housing:  a twelve unit community of tiny homes to help address the problem of homelessness in urban centers. The site is comprised of 4 vacant lots owned by the City of Raleigh, just outside Historic Boylan Heights in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA.

This ideas competition is generated by the presence of homelessness throughout our nation. There is a pressing need in cities like Raleigh for affordable micro-dwellings to serve people without a stable dwelling place. Tiny home communities cannot eliminate poverty or homelessness, but they can create a more lively, caring, and diverse city. The goal is to generate innovative micro-housing communities that can repair and enliven our social fabric and help people transition out of homelessness.

Raleigh is a prosperous capital city with a population of 432,000. The site, at the SE corner of S West Street and W Lenoir Street, Raleigh, NC, provides an opportunity for designers to explore and develop the following:

  • Affordable micro-housing to serve people whose lives are in transition
  • A community center and garden to support the housing
  • Modularity and prefabrication
  • An environment that includes natural ecology and sustainable lifestyles
  • Leftover city land as a resource for mending social and urban fabric
  • The role a dwelling can play in helping someone establish a sense of importance and home

The competition winners will be publicly announced at the Activate14 Affordable Housing event held at the AIANC Center for Architecture and Design (CfAD) in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, on Thursday, June 25, 2015. Finalists will be exhibited at CfAD and the ideas will be discussed at an Urban Housing Symposium. The competition winners and an overview of ideas generated will be presented at the annual AIANC Design Conference in Durham, North Carolina in September 2015, whose theme this year is “Revitalization”.


The 2014 Point-in-Time count estimated approximately 11,500 individuals in North Carolina who were homeless. This number includes people residing in emergency shelters, domestic violence shelters, transitional housing, and places not meant for human habitation such as cars, parks, streets, and encampments. It does not include people living in hotels or motels, or staying with friends and family.

Small-scale projects like tiny Homes should be embraced as part of a more systemic approach to solving homelessness. No single intervention, whether it comes from economists, community organizers, architects, or scientists, is enough but a bunch of good ones can help show the way.

Other projects in Seattle,Washington; Austin, Texas; St. Cloud, Minnesota; Newfield, New York; and Madison, Wisconsin have very successful examples of low-cost private housing to give people support, privacy, and dignity while transitioning out of homelessness. The Raleigh/Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness plans to build a future tiny home community to be wrapped with existing services such as transportation, educational opportunities, and other support services.


Created in 2006, The Raleigh/Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness is the integrated efforts of The City of Raleigh and Wake County governments to address the need to end and prevent homelessness. Their mission is to strategically lead and engage the community in collaborative efforts to prevent and move people out of homelessness. Their involvement is a contribution of three guiding principles; advocacy, convening and communicating.

Activate14 is an outreach initiative by the AIA North Carolina to strengthen the civic role of architecture and design in our community.  Activate 14 includes two design competitions and multiple events throughout the year. See http://activate14.com for more information.


The Site
Located just outside the historic Boylan Heights neighborhood, the site is .32 acres southwest of Raleigh’s city center. The site is walkable to downtown, adjacent to two bus lines and the Amtrak station. The neighborhood is surrounded by a variety of small shops and amenities. Several churches are nearby.

  • In conjunction with the goals of self-sufficiency and sustainability, the community center should aim to be a net-zero energy consumer.
  • The design should provide the ability to grow fruits and vegetables, either as part of the individual unit or integrated into the publicly shared areas.
  • The maximum height is 40 feet from existing grade.
  • Site setbacks are shown on the site plan.

Topo Base

The Program
The program intent is an innovative urban community within the defined space where residents feel engaged, important, safe, and welcome. The design should encourage broad community interaction with life on the street and the nearby neighborhood. The community will be self-governing by its residents.

  • Provide 12 units, each a maximum of 144 square feet (porches not included in total SF).
  • Each unit will have a water closet and lavatory basin, bed, and sitting/eating area to be occupied by a single man or woman.
  • The units will be served by a community garden and a commons building of 1,500 SF which will provide a kitchen, common area, laundry, showers, and work/study space.
  • Porches are important architectural elements and should be considered in conjunction with interior space.
  • Units should be self contained so that they could be moved to another site.
  • Provide off street parking for two (2) cars.


Bryan Bell…………………..DesignCorps, SEED
Bryan Bell founded Design Corps in 1991 with the mission is “to provide the benefits of architecture to those traditionally un-served by the profession.” At Design Corps, Bell started an internship program with the AmeriCorps national service program for young designers interested in the social application of architecture. The Design Corps’ summer design/build studio teaches critical community organizing skills to designers. In 1985, Bell worked as Project Director in the office of Samuel Mockbee on three houses for rural families in Mississippi. The project received a Progressive Architecture Award in 1986. He holds degrees from Princeton and Yale.

Andrew Freear…………….Rural Studio
Andrew Freer is the Director of the Auburn University Rural Studio in Newbern, Alabama. The Rural Studio is a hands-on architectural pedagogy that teaches students through thinking, designing and making homes and community projects for the underserved people of West Alabama. In 2015, the Rural Studio will receive the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award for its socially responsible architecture and teaching. Mr Freear has lectured about the Rural Studio worldwide and is a member of the Newbern Volunteer Fire Department.

Dan Rockhill……………….Studio 804Rockhill and Associates
Dan Rockhill is Executive Director of Studio 804 and J. L. Constant Distinguished Professor of Architecture at the University of Kansas School of Architecture. Studio 804 is a not-for-profit organization that teaches architecture through building, beginning with design concepts and ending with driving nails. Rockhill and his students have designed and constructed 20 projects since 1995 ranging from affordable houses to an addition to the KU School of Architecture.Their work, which is shaped by the land and culture of the Kansas region, is recognized internationally for its sustainable design and inventive building solutions.

A board member of the Raleigh/Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessess and a potential resident will be joining the jury.

The competition is open internationally to all students in a certified architectural program, un-licensed design professionals, and licensed Architects. Individuals or teams may submit more than one entry, but each entry will receive separate ID numbers and require an additional entry fee.

Top prize………………….$1,500

Monday, February 16……………………Announced
Monday, February 23……………………Registration Opens
Friday, April 3………………………………Deadline for Questions
Friday, April  10……………………………Release FAQ sheet
Friday, May 22, 11:59PM EST………..Registration Closes
Sunday, May 31, 11:59PM EST……..Submission Deadline
June 25………………………………………Public Announcement of winner at Activate14 event
September 24-26th………………………AIANC Conference Exhibition + Presentation


1. Registration
Registration fee is $50 (USD). Multiple entries will require a registration fees with each. See link above to complete the process. Registration opens Monday, February 23rd.

2. Application
An application form and unique ID number will be sent to you upon registration. Title as [ID#]_Application

3. Graphics
Two 24” x 36” boards as hi-res PDF. Title as [ID#]_Boards
Boards may include additional drawings and images as deemed necessary by entrants, but boards are required to include:

  • Site Plan
  • Site and building sections
  • One or more rendered exteriors
  • One or more rendered interiors
  • ID number in top right corner
  • and other diagrams and images as you see fit.

4. Project Description
No more than 250 words submitted as one-page PDF. Contestants should read judging criteria, and use this written portion to portray how their design is sensitive to the needs of the residents and facilitates community interaction. Title as [ID#]_Project

5. Physical Model (Optional)
Model of typical unit at ¼ inch = 1 foot. There are no material restrictions. Out of state and international participants may submit model photographs instead of physical model. Physical models should be delivered to:

Activate14 Tiny Homes Competition
14 East Peace Street, 3rd Floor
Raleigh, North Carolina 27604

Submit materials electronically to competition@activate14.com via email or a file transfer service by 11:59 PM, Sunday, May 31, 2015 (EST)


Use of names or logos on competition materials or incomplete submissions may result in disqualification. Once the final submissions are uploaded, no additional edits, uploads, or changes can be made. Updates will be posted on the competition website and sent to registered applicants.

Activate 14 reserves the right to retain ownership of all competition materials to use in exhibitions or publications without compensation to the entrants. Each competitor will retain full copyright unless stated otherwise. No submissions will be returned.

Competition entrants may submit questions until Friday, March 20, 2015 to competition@activate14.com. All questions will be answered and sent to registered entrants no later than Friday, April 10, 2015.


The following links are resources for information on cities taking the lead on homelessness, tiny homes, and tiny home communities:


9 thoughts on “2015 Tiny Home Community Ideas Competition

  1. Pingback: Design a tiny home community to help fight homelessness and you could win $1,500! | Design Competitions

  2. Pingback: Tiny Home Community Ideas Competition « TheArchitectureRoom

  3. Pingback: Tiny Home Community Ideas Competition | Competitions.archi

  4. I’m living in Egypt , may I enter the competition , and if yes , should I print out hardcopy for required boards?

  5. Pingback: Tiny Home Competition Entries – Shortlist Announcement | Activate14

  6. Pingback: Tiny Home Competition Winner + Merit Awards | Activate14

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