International Competition Launches to Improve the Design of Classrooms Around the World


Davos, Switzerland – Thursday, January 29, 2009 — 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 ten 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.

“We’re excited to be working with Architects for Humanity to design the next generation of Building Tomorrow Academy classrooms,” said George Srour, Executive Director of Building Tomorrow. “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,” said 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 Building Tomorrow 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 videoconferences 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.

For more information or to register, please visit:

Download official press release.

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