WHAT: Rapid world growth and urbanization is not allowing cities to adapt and provide for their inhabitants. Towns are quickly growing into cities, and some of the densest places in the world are comprised of makeshift homes, otherwise referred to as slums. Furthermore, already overcrowded cities have to absorb people leaving their rural hometown in hope of job opportunities. There are currently over 1 billion slum dwellers in the world. This number is expected to reach 2 billion by the year 2030. Now, more than ever, we need to play a central role in the development of substandard neighborhoods. Slums effect much more than just housing; they affect almost all living conditions and communities as a whole.

The intent of this competition is twofold: to foster new ideas on how to better handle the growing density of unplanned cities and to spread awareness of this massive problem. Contestants should consider how design can empower communities and allow for a self sufficient future.

Architects, students, engineers, designers, thinkers, NGOs and organizations are all invited to participate in this competition. No professional qualifications are necessary. Interdisciplinary teams are also encouraged to join.

There are no restrictions in regards to site, program, or size. Projects can be based on a specific location or a general concept. The object is to limit constraints and give participants the freedom to think in the most creative way possible. Submissions do not need to be created exclusively for this competition, but should not have been submitted elsewhere.

Andrew Balster, 
Executive Director for Archeworks
David Cole, 
Director of Building Trust International
Katie Crepeau, VP, Director of Planning and Urban Design at RTKL
Robert Elkins, Winner of 2015 Dencity Competition, Director of Elkins Architects
Julia King, Architect and Urban Researcher, Emerging Woman Architect of the Year
Geeta Mehta, Professor at Columbia University, co-founder of URBZ
Michael Murphy, Founder of MASS Design Group
Peter Williams, Founder of Archive Global

17 December 2015: Registrations Open
14 March 2016: Closing of Registrations
25 April  2016: Late Registration Deadline & Deadline for Submissions
June: Announcement of Winners

Registration Fee is $55/project
Participants may submit multiple projects, but must register each entry
Individual entries are allowed. All teams are limited to 4 people maximum

After your registration has been approved, Shelter will send you a registration number. The registration number will be necessary to submit to the competition.


Two horizontal project boards at 24(h)” x 48(w)” at high quality (150 dpi). You may include, but are not limited to sitemaps, drawings, elevations, sections, photographs, renderings or anything else that may help illustrate your idea. Each board must also include your Dencity Competition ID in the upper right hand corner.

A text .doc sized 8.5” x 11”, between 750-1500 words, with a language requirement of English. This document must help explain your project boards. You may include this text within your boards, but is not required to do so. The text file must also include your Dencity Competition ID in the upper right hand corner.

Team member biographies must be included for each person participating. You may use any standard text file format. Please include the names of all participants with a short paragraph about their background. Also include each person’s profession, email address, home address, phone number and Dencity Competition ID.

First Place: $3,000
Second Place: $1,500
Third Place: $750

*There will also be 5 special mentions. Winners and special mentions will be published in several international online magazines as well as the Shelter website.

For any further information and queries, contact: 

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