Architecture students from around the world are invited to design forward thinking environments for our ageing population. You are asked to design a dwelling or precinct for yourself and/or others when aged and retired. Your proposition may be a house for an extended family; a multi-generational precinct; an agile planning strategy accommodating changing family structures from cradle to grave; housing for unusual demographic mixes or another well-considered option. The competition asks for designs that facilitate security, dignity, access and participation of aged people in communities.


The world’s population is ageing. A United Nations report writes:

  • "Population ageing is unprecedented, without parallel in human history—and the twenty-first century will witness even more rapid ageing than did the century just past".
  • "Population ageing is pervasive, a global phenomenon affecting every man, woman and child—but countries are at very different stages of the process, and the pace of change differs greatly.  Countries that started the process later will have less time to adjust".
  • "Population ageing is enduring:  we will not return to the young populations that our ancestors knew". 
  • "Population ageing has profound implications for many facets of human life".

Department of Economic and Social Affairs of The United Nations\\0/

We each hope to enjoy a long and healthy life. Indeed the fastest growing age group in the world are those aged 80 and over but these oldest of the old are more likely to have complex needs in terms of access and health both physical and mental. Space and place are important to the wellbeing of individuals and communities. The physical environment has an even greater impact as mobility, senses and strength gradually decline.

The figures are compelling. In the last fifty years of the 20th century, the actual number of aged people tripled. In the first fifty years of this century the number will triple again. Developed nations have the highest proportions of older persons but the older age group in less developed regions is growing more rapidly and as a consequence aged people will increasingly be concentrated in less developed regions.

A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members   -   Mahatma Ghandi


The Design Brief

As part of the competition, entrants will propose a design scenario. The jury is interested in your strategies for connecting the elderly within the broader context of family and/or community considering relationships between different age groups rather than focusing on either gated retirement communities or nursing home facilities. The jury will be looking for proposals that respond to a deep understanding of the social and physical contexts within your selected site location. The size of the design proposition is not important in itself, but the design should be distinctive and compelling, with cultural value.


You can choose to expand of the following scenarios or develop another.

  • a house for an extended family;
  • a multi-generational precinct;
  • an agile planning strategy accommodating changing family structures from cradle to grave;
  • housing for unusual demographic mixes or
  • another well-considered option.

The jury will be particularly interested in innovative solutions providing good value for money. Strategies should be developed that reflect the climate, culture and context of the design. Competitors are encouraged to contemplate the use of recycled and local materials. Re-use and remodelling of an existing building would be acceptable. In many communities the aged are cared for by families while in others, aged care is self-funded or supported by government, industry and private benefactors.

The Jury Criteria

As part of the competition, you are asked to explain the people and context you are designing for in a 300 word scenario brief along with a further 300 word explanation of your design approach.

The jury will select the winning schemes based on the following:

  • Design sensibility and originality
  • Culturally, functionally and economically appropriate for the selected context
  • Design resolution for local context in terms of climate and materials
  • Incorporates best practices for sustainable design to suit the context
  • Clarity of ideas and communication


The competition will be judged by an international jury. The results will be announced on the occasion of the 20th
 CAA General Assembly and Conference scheduled to take place in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in February 2013 and the winning entries will be displayed there. The organisers propose inviting the winners to the Conference. The jury’s decision will be final.


First Prize: £2500 Second Prize: £1000 Third Prize: £600

A bonus of £250 will be awarded to the best prize-winning, multi-disciplinary group entry (i.e. a submission from a team registered as two or more people from different disciplines that is placed first, second or third). All students are eligible for first, second and third prizes. An additional £250 has been reserved for the best submission from a student (or team of students) in the first or second year of academic study at the time of the entry being made, where the entry has not been awarded one of the principal prizes. Any prize awarded for a group submission will be divided equally among members of the group.

In addition, honourable mentions may be awarded at the discretion of the jury.


The competition is open to all architecture students, worldwide, who at any time during the competition from the launch on 23 May 2012 until submissions close on 11 January 2013 are registered at a Higher Education Institution. It is not limited to those studying in Commonwealth Countries. Individual and group entries are acceptable. Postgraduate research students and higher degree students are not eligible to take part but CAA welcomes undergraduate students and postgraduate coursework students working towards a professional architecture degree qualification. Entrants are encouraged to build a team with other students including students from other disciplines.

Key dates

Registration opens June 2012
Questions close November 9, 2012
Final answers November 16, 2012
Submissions open November 23, 2012
Registration closes December 7, 2012
Submissions close January 11, 2013 – Friday Midnight GMT


Late submissions will not be accepted

The Competition Exhibition and Awards Ceremony will be part of the February CAA Conference in Dhaka, Bangladesh


Drawings must for formatted to a maximum of two A1 sheets (841 x 594mm landscape format) in pdf format at 300dpi resolution submitted electronically to the website. Add two 300 word written explanations in English (each on an A4 portrait format); one outlining your brief and one explaining your design rationale. Include your User ID only in the top right of each sheet or drawing [24pt plain white text on dark backgrounds, or the inverse]. Remove any other identifying information to avoid disqualification.

Photographs (of the site, 3D model, etc) may be included in the drawings. No specific drawings or scales are prescribed, but the presentation must convey the ideas underlying the design, its overall form and spaces, and its character and intended atmosphere. The following aspects should be explained:

  • the design intentions
  • the site and its context (built and natural)
  • indicative construction, structure and materials
  • the strategy for achieving sustainability and value

It is intended to publish a selection of winning and other entries in The Architectural Review.


Online registration will be available mid-year, 2012. A one-off registration fee for each entry (individual or team) will be 50 GBP. This registration fee will contribute to the costs of printing, exhibition and judging.

Submission process

Upload all documents to the competition website before January 11 2013 – Friday Midnight GMT. New documents can be uploaded to override the old until the close of submissions. You will receive confirmation that documents have been successfully uploaded within 24 hours. Email the Competition Registrar if you have any questions.

Documents and File naming

  • [User ID number]_registration.pdf - Signed completed registration form including signature(s) from the HoD certifying student enrolment for each entrant.
  • [User ID number]_01.pdf - 300 words maximum describing your chosen design brief scenario with registration number
  • [User ID number]_02.pdf - 300 words maximum describing your design approach with registration number
  • [User ID number]_03.pdf & [User ID number]_04.pdf - Correctly formatted A1 design drawings


Registration and participation in the competition implies a complete acceptance of all entrants regarding the competition terms and conditions.


Entries will be judged anonymously. The name of the entrant(s) and school should appear only on the registration form and not on the drawing sheets. Entries revealing authorship to the jury may be disqualified.

Questions and Answers

Any questions concerning the brief and arrangements for the competition may, until November 9 2012 be sent to the Competition Registrar  Questions and Answers relevant to all entrants will be regularly updated on the website until November 16 2012. Further questions can only relate to the submission process.

The copyright of a submission will remain with the author(s) but the CAA reserves the right to keep entries for exhibition and publication.