DESIGN AGAINST the ELEMENTS COMPETITION
A Global Campaign for Climate Adaptability
Design Against the Elements Competition is an international design competition for disaster-
resilient, affordable urban communities that can be built in developing countries located in the
tropics. Launched with the initiative (proposed) of Mayor Freddie Tinga of the City of
Taguig, Gawad Kalinga, United Architects of the Philippines, and consultancy of the Asian
Development Bank shall initiate a global competition that shall bring together architects both
local and international to find solutions to the problem of obsolete residential building designs in
the developing world, especially those that constantly face climate change reinforced natural
disasters like typhoons, and earthquakes. The top three winning designs will receive $10,000.00,
$5,000, $3,000.00 respectively. Gawad Kalinga, one of the largest self-help architecture and
community organizing groups in Asia focused on transforming slums into peaceful and
productive communities, shall build the winning master plan of 250 houses the City of Taguig.
The design shall stand as the first green and disaster-resistant community in the Philippines. The
My Shelter Foundation shall compile the most innovative, resourceful and environmentally
sustainable designs in a publication that shall serve as an encyclopedia of solutions that shall be
shared with civil society organizations, local governments, and other groups that seek to respond
to the problem of adaptability in the climate-challenged developing world.
Poverty has been the biggest concern in Philippine society for the past six decades. The problem
of poverty opens up to a host of other problems, primary of which is shelter. Government
statistics show that over 1.25 million families, accounting for approximately 30% of the total
population, live in informal settlements or “squatter areas.” More than 20% of these families live
in danger zones (bayside, riverside, under bridges, along railways, etc). According to the
Medium Term Philippine Development Plan 2004-2010, the housing need is estimated to reach
3.75 million units by next year. In the period of 2001-2004, the government was only able to
provide for 23% of the total housing backlog.
Given this situation, the destruction caused by natural disasters such as typhoons amplifies the
suffering of poor communities. They are plunged deeper into poverty when they are faced with
the economic burden of having to rebuild their homes and livelihood.
According to the Global Climate Risk Index, the Philippines is one of the ten most afflicted
countries in the world in terms of the number of lives and property lost as a result of damage due
to climate, and these are mainly in the form of increasing intensities of typhoons visiting the
islands annually. The nation is an island state where 20 out of 80 provincial cities are already
exhibiting severe impacts to changes in the climate with growing recorded numbers of displaced
communities needing assistance every year. This puts the country in one of the major
predicaments of developing nations; having very little to do with creating greenhouse emissions,
but having to face that the populations will probably be the hardest hit by global warming. This
has proven to be a treacherous formula for those living in high vulnerability areas with very little
capacity for adaptation.
The Design Against the Elements Competition is being held in response to the call for social and
climate adaptation. There is a gap between the talk about the crisis of climate change, but very
few working models and adaptation strategies being put forward. The need is urgent to arm those
who are unprepared and at risk. Their way of life and very lives are under threat. Mitigation and
prevention is not enough to shield the poor from the onslaught of disaster. The situation calls for
radical and immediate adaptation.
BACKGROUND ON THE COMPETITION:
In January 2009, the Philippines' largest builders for poor communities, Gawad Kalinga, launched
the Designer Village Challenge, a local design competition for 4 th – 5th year students in
architecture and interior design to raise the bar of excellence for Gawad Kalinga communities
around the country and the world by harnessing their talents and skills into building the most
beautiful, environment-friendly and sustainable Gawad Kalinga villages for the poorest of the
poor who otherwise cannot afford their services. May 8, 2009 was the last day of submission of
entries and awarding was done in September. (http://gk1world.com/GkCms/Home)
Similarly and exactly the year before, The United Architects of the Philippines together with its
partners, the National Disaster Coordinating Council, the Private Sector Disaster Management
Network and the United Architects of the Phillippines mounted an international competition with
the vision of culling emergent technologies from the world's architects who can create sustainable
new design solutions for schools to improve the overall learning conditions of the children, and to
revolutionize the blueprint in making the structure resilient to strong and typhoons. The winning
design is a sustainable bamboo school by Eleena Jamil of Malaysia which began construction at
the Nato Elementary School area last May 15, 2009 and was completed in January 15, 2010.
This year, the proponents of both competitions have brought forth a new challenge to local and
international architects, designer and planners – to provide solutions to the problem of obsolete,
low-cost residential building designs in the developing word in the midst of climate change. It is
hoped that a broader international network base will bring in around 4,000 design entries to
complete a full master plan of a climate resilient community for urban areas of the country. The
scope of the design will be a master plan of a community composed of 250 houses based on
affordability (<$5,000 USD per unit), typhoon and earthquake resistance, sustainable
development, innovative construction technology, scalability and flexibility of use, and social
Other Information :
2008-09 Competition : Millenium Schools Challenge
1) 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.
2) to build the first green, affordable, disaster-resistant village in the Philippines that could
serve as the blueprint of how families in vulnerable areas can successfully cope with the impacts
of climate variability
3) to build an Encyclopedia of climate-resilient, affordable design solutions that can be used
and repeatedly referred to in the near future, and that could help facilitate the development of
policies that address these humanitarian challenges.
ABOUT THE COMPETITION:
The competition will call for a masterplan and design of an urban development for in the area of
Taguig, Philippines. The main objective of this competition is to contribute to urban adaptability
of climate change impacts, in the form of architectural and structural resiliency against strong
typhoon winds and heavy rains, in addition to social/economic resiliency through livelihood
sustainability. Thus, the competition calls not only for design of disaster-resistant and
environmentally sensitive structures but also considerations for sustainable community planning.
Building typhoon-resistant housing is only one part of the solution. To be fully adaptable to
climate change, communities should be ready and equipped to survive through anticipated
typhoons by becoming self-reliant and having the necessary facilities for post-disaster support.
1. Develop a masterplan for a community of 250 residential units that can be applied to
other similar urban sites.
2. Integrate development that addresses the sustainability of the community by
understanding the local demographic, economic, social, and environmental attributes.
3. Propose a design theme for the entire village to achieve a unified look, that can be
applied to all structures within the community.
4. Provide a detailed design for a typical family residential unit, including interior space
a. Innovative Construction Technology. To break the cycle of destruction-rebuilding-
destruction, new building technologies or approaches have to be explored. We are
seeking innovative construction solutions, both in materials (recycled, renewable,
engineered) and systems (structural, cladding, electrical, irrigation and plumbing, etc)
that can withstand typhoon winds of around 200 kph.
1. Sustainability of the Built Environment. The design should incorporate green
building strategies for both community infrastructure and in housing. At a minimum,
the design should include the following considerations:
• Manage solar heat and natural light
• Utilize natural ventilation
• Water efficiency
• Energy efficiency
• Waste management and minimization
• Life-cycle of building
• Use of locally available materials
• Use of rapidly renewable materials
2. Sustainability of the Community.
i. Economic Sustainability (Livelihood Component/ Self-Help). The design
should include a program that promotes economic opportunities for residents
with the creation of new integrated business enterprises, such as a bed &
breakfast and/or other livelihood possibilities.
ii. Social Sustainability (Community Sensitivity). While the design should be
adaptable to other sites (discussed below), it should be sensitive to the local
culture and way of life of the beneficiary community.
c. Constructability. Construction techniques should take into account the Filipino
Bayanihan spirit, wherein beneficiaries have the opportunity to participate in the
construction. As extended families form part of the Filipino culture, provision for
and construction of future expansion space should also be considered.
d. Adaptability to Other Sites. The resulting designs are intended to serve as prototypes
to build an encyclopedia of solutions for disaster-resistant design and planning,
hence, concepts utilized in the design should be adaptable to other urban
communities in tropical regions.
a. Minimum Unit Floor Areas
• (20 sq.meters unit space)
b. Each unit should include:
• At least one bedroom, one bathroom, 1 kitchen counter , one living and dining area
• Service area at the rear for laundry (clothesline)
c. Community Facilities should include the following:
• Community Center/ Multi-purpose Hall (≥ 60 sqm)
• Waste Management Facility (≥ 20 sqm)