Design Against the Elements is a global architectural design
competition meant to find a solution to the problems and threats
presented by disasters caused by climate change.
Spurred by the devastation wreaked in the Philippines by tropical storm Ondoy (Ketsana)
and driven by a strong multidisciplinary group of organizations from the private,
institutional, and government sectors, the project aims to draw together the brightest and
most innovative minds in the fields of sustainable design and urban planning to develop an
integrated, environmentally sound, and disaster-resistant housing community in a tropical
urban setting. The MyShelter Foundation has pulled together a powerhouse group of
partners: the city of Taguig, Climate Change Commission (CCC), the United Architects of
the Philippines (UAP), the RP - United Nations White Helmets, among others.
The challenge is to design a complete housing community that is both sustainable to build
and that can withstand the rigors of the Philippines’ typhoons and consequent flooding,
made worse by the increasingly alarming effects of climate change. The permanent dwelling
provided by the physical structure and the social support system offered by the planned
community will not only provide shelter from the elements, ensuring the safety of its
residents, it will also give them a sense of security and hope that life can proceed
unhindered by the onslaught of natural disasters.
The project also aims to present a definitive green building solution in a truly local context.
Too often, home-owners, architects, and policy-makers think of sustainable building as a
luxury that only privileged landowners and advanced countries can afford to practice.
Design Against the Elements considers the concept of green architecture as essential to
survival—planning for homes and communities that can survive for weeks in the severely
restricted conditions of a post-disaster situation. The goal is to mitigate the effects of the
destruction caused by these disasters, which currently contribute to the perpetuation of
poverty as they result in loss of life and property and a costly halt in indigent communities’
way of life.
The competition will be divided into two categories: the Open Category (Category 1), which
shall be open to registered and licensed architects, and the Student Category (Category 2),
which shall be for senior students and graduates of an architecture course. A total prize
fund of US $21,000 will be awarded for up to four winning entries in the first category and
US $7,500 for the second category. Moreover, the top winning design will be built as a
prototype masterplanned disaster-resistant and livable eco-village in Taguig City, Metro
Manila. The village will be the first green and disaster-resistant community in the country
and will provide an archetype model that can be studied and replicated in similar areas. The
finished project will house a marginalized climate-refugee community and is meant to give
them a sense of security and belonging as well as pride and ownership and awareness of
sustainable practices that can be practiced at all levels of their everyday lives.
All the entries to the competition will also be compiled into an encyclopedia of architectural
and planning solutions to address climate change, adding to the canon that can be tapped
by future designers and researchers worldwide. Thus the competition will synthesize many
solutions to problems resulting from climate change, and will address the need for socialized
housing in a creative, innovative, and fully sustainable manner that can be replicated by
other concerned citizens in the near future.
Design Against the Elements was conceptualized with the intent to mitigate the effects of
the natural disasters brought about and worsened by climate change, particularly on the
marginalized groups of society who are most at risk since they lack adequately planned and
well-built shelter. The project also aims to tap the most sustainable and ecologically sound
technologies available in order to end the cycle of further damage to the environment. Thus,
the objectives of the project may be stated as follows:
o To foster local and global awareness on climate adaptability and its relevance to poverty
alleviation. The main hypothesis of this project is that having safer structures “ahead of
time” will not only lead to less injury, number of climate refugees, and loss of life and
property, but will empower communities to uplift their quality of life.
o To build the first green, livable, affordable, and disaster-resistant village in the
Philippines that will serve as the blueprint for how families in vulnerable areas can
successfully cope with the impacts of climate variability.
o To compile an encyclopedia of climate-resilient and affordable design solutions that can
be used and repeatedly referred to in the near future, and that can help facilitate the
development of facilities that address these humanitarian challenges.
Deadline for registration
September 24, 2010
Deadline for submission of questions
October 5, 2010
Deadline to dispatch answers to questions
October 15, 2010
Deadline for submission of entries
November 19, 2010
December 1-3, 2010
Announcement of Winners
December 8, 2010
January 14, 2011 (tentative)
City of Taguig
The city of Taguig is an important residential, commercial, and
industrial center in Metro Manila. Headed by Mayor Sigfrido
Tiñga, the city aims to be a premier city of the Philippines,
recognized for its quality environment, people-oriented public
services, and the economic opportunities it offers to its
residents. It is also a strong advocate of building homes for all,
responding to the housing needs of the city’s poor and homeless
through partnerships with various housing-oriented
organizations. It is providing the land and funding for the
construction of the prototype eco-village which will be designed
based on the winning entry for Design Against the Elements.
Climate Change Commission
The Climate Change Commission was created to coordinate,
monitor, and evaluate the government’s programs and actions to
mitigate and adapt to the effects of Climate Change. Its mandate
is provided by the Philippine Climate Change Act of 2009, which
was signed into law on October 23, 2009 and seeks to
mainstream climate change into the formulation of government
policy by setting up a National Framework Strategy and Program
on Climate Change. The law is meant to enable the country to
better respond to disasters spawned by climate change.
MyShelter Foundation is a non-stock non-profit organization
that aims to create a system of sustainability and replicability
through its capability-building and employment generating
projects. MyShelter empowers its beneficiaries and uses their
energies as the greatest force for their upliftment. Among its
previous projects are the 25 Earthen Schools in Surigao, Coral
Walls development, and the innovative peanut shellters for
peanut farmers and processors. MyShelter Foundation is the
pioneering force behind the Design Against the Elements
United Architects of the Philippines
The United Architects of the Philippines is recognized as the
Integrated and Accredited Professional Organization of Architectect
(IAPOA) in the Philippines. It is the only organization with the right
to represent Filipino architects in the Philippines and
internationally. As the country's prime professional organization of
architects, the UAP is strongly committed to social responsibility
and has taken an active role in various socio-civic programs and
projects. The UAP aims to be responsive to the needs of its
professionals, the profession, and the professional product while
preserving the UAP-IAPOA's larger, enduring role as a vanguard of
architecture profession where knowledge and innovation are created, transmitted, and
preserved; and to be actively seeking balance in all of these roles, even in the face of the
uncertainties and the rapidly changing forces that surround the Filipino architects. The UAP
is taking the lead role as the project manager and official competition organizer for Design
Against the Elements. UAP is a member institute of ARCASIA (Architects Regional Council
Asia), a regional organization of 16 institutes of architects in Asia, and is the Philippine
national section of UIA (Union Internationale des Architectes), an international organization
of 110 institutes of architects worldwide. The UAP has been awarded the Most Outstanding
Accredited Professional Organization (APO) by the PRC for four consecutive years already.
Philippine White Helmets
The Philippine White Helmets is a joint government, civil society
and private sector humanitarian and peacebuilding group
supervised by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs -
Office of UN and Other International Affairs / Philippine Mission
to the UN in Geneva. The White Helmets are mandated by the
United Nations though UN General Assembly Resolution 49/139-
B (1994). Domestically, the PWH assists in providing and
coordinating local and international humanitarian assistance to
calamities throughout the country, and is currently engaged in
relief for the Ondoy and Pepeng Crises in Luzon.
Six Degrees Strategic Design
DigiScript Philippines Inc.
Bigtop Meda Productions, Inc.
Brand Aide Inc.
National Geographic Channel
It takes only seconds to destroy what takes years to build. Thousands of Filipinos learned
this last year, when Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) took lives and homes. Help reduce the
painful cycle of environmental destruction and post-disaster reconstruction through design.
The best donation to a country at risk to the effects of climate change is not just financial
aid, but ideas. This year’s challenge is to prepare communities before the next disaster.
Design Against the Elements is a global competition to design sustainable and disaster-
resilient communities for tropical urban environments.
The competition is divided into two categories. The Open Category (Category 1) is open to
registered and licensed architects worldwide. The first prize winner for Category 1 will
receive a $10,000 reward, and have his or her design built. The Student Category (Category
2) is for current students of an architecture course worldwide. The winner for Category 2
will receive $3,000.
The winning design will be built for an urban poor community in Taguig City, Philippines.
Taguig, is known to be a leader in innovative practices in terms of governance and social
development. In 2009, the city government sponsored a housing project for the poor based
on a condominium paradigm; the city is also the site of many housing projects and
relocation settlements, and is thus no stranger to the needs of its less privileged
communities. Taguig has also laid out plans for its strategic development, covering various
concerns such as housing, road networks and infrastructure, the provision of utilities, and
distribution of land use. In this plan, Taguig acknowledges its geography and location, and
clearly states the need for carrying out various flood control and adaptation measures to
deal with the problem. This makes the city an ideal test and prototype location for a
disaster-resistant eco-village, given the physical setting and the openness of the local
government to support new methods of disaster control.
The finished project will serve as a prototype for vulnerable communities around the world.
Too often, home-owners, architects, and policy-makers think of sustainable building as a
luxury that only privileged landowners and advanced countries can afford. Design Against
the Elements considers green architecture as essential to survival; it has the ability to
reduce the frequency and impact of environmental disasters and lessen the cycle of poverty.
As in all major efforts, it takes the time, effort, financial resources, and influence of many
individuals, organizations, corporations, and government offices to make a project a
success. The Design Against the Elements initiative is driven by the following groups, and
more project partners are joining the group daily. Partners for this project include: City of
Taguig, Climate Change Commission, My Shelter Foundation, Architects of the Philippines,
RP-United Nations White Helmets, XOB Productions, Six Degrees, DigiScript Philippines,
Bigtop Media Productions, Sony Philippines, Brand Aide, National Geographic Channel.