Global Challenge Program Guidelines

The Global Challenge 2021 calls for bottom-up, community architectural initiatives that have radical potential to improve the lives of both rural and urban communities. Enter the Global Challenge, connect to partners and supporters to get your community's initiative off the ground! The submission will be open from June 6 until July 25, 2021.


What is the Global Challenge?

The Global Challenge is a competition that recognises the best community projects and helps accelerate their development. We select the most impactful initiatives, promote them amongst our global network of partners and connect them through meaningful collaborations - on our own terms, Do-It-Together (DIT) architecture.

The first Global Challenge was initiated by A--D in 2016. With 80+ projects from 37 countries submitted, we discovered a willingness from professionals to invest their time and energy to help realize impactful architecture for communities in need. These projects are proof of the power of Do-It-Together architecture. The 2016 pilot ultimately supported the realisation of ModSkool, which was recognised by the London Design Museum as the winner in the architecture category.

Please also check the best practices to learn more about the projects we love.

Why should we submit our community project to the Global Challenge?

The Global Challenge is a great opportunity if you are seeking partners or supporters to get your community's initiative off the ground. It is the one-and-only global program that supports the early phase of bottom-up, community architectural initiatives. Reasons to submit your project include: 

  • Exposure: if your project is eligible and published on the A--D website, it can increase its visibility and credibility among your supporters and potential partners.
  • Network: if your project is selected as a finalist, A--D will become your network partner. You can join our free accelerator that aims to connect our partners and our network resources to your project.
  • Funding & partnership: as a finalist, you will have the opportunity to receive €3,000.- funding or pro bono advice provided by our partners.

What type of projects can I submit? 

We accept community driven architectural initiatives in the early phases of development. The project must involve the local community who, as a group, commit to improving their collective living, working or learning conditions. The community must be involved through the different phases of the design, development and building process.

Eligible projects must be collective spaces such as schools, libraries, meeting places, community centers, co-housing or factories - but are not limited to these.

What are the submission criteria?

  • Team capacity: there is a core team that demonstrates motivation, leadership, relevant experiences and qualifications to bring the initiative to life.
  • Community involvement: the core team consists of members of the community and representatives who demonstrate they receive community trust and are committed to the initiative.
  • Architectural added value: the design demonstrates the core team’s understanding and sensitivity to local culture and tradition; it contributes to the community's sense of place and belonging.
  • Urgency: the submission should address what’s already been achieved and identify the expertise and resources necessary to bring the initiative to life.

Who is eligible to submit a project?

A project can be submitted by a community architect or representative who acts as the ‘gatekeeper’ for the community, who is committed to leading the development process under challenging circumstances. Please note that your project will be prioritised  if you can demonstrate exceptional leadership, project management skills, design experiences, or any relevant track record. By submitting a project, you will be the project owner who is responsible for the project page, campaign and communication with other stakeholders. 

When are the important dates and deadlines? 


What are the assessment criteria? 

Eligible projects will be pre-selected and published on our website based on the submission criteria (Team capacity, Community involvement, Architectural added value, Urgency). During the jury process, we will select a shortlist as well as finalists based on the following assessment criteria:

  • Impact: the project contributes to the long-term development of the community beyond the program period by building various capacities of the community. It presents strategies and tangible solutions that address at least two of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Feasibility: the project has a viable development model for its specific context. The total budget should be specified, and initial funding (20%-30% of the project’s total budget) should be raised.

Is there a budget or scale limit?

As feasibility is a rather important assessment criteria for the selection of finalists, we will look at whether the budget and resources match the scale of the project. We strongly advise that submitted projects should have a minimum fund (20-30% of the project’s total budget) already raised.

Who will judge my submission and what is the process?

All eligible submissions will go through three reviews: 

First, we will select a longlist with the best submissions according to the submission criteria. Our jury board, composed of experts nominated by our partners, will do the second review to select a shortlist. The final review, joined by the jury members and our steering committee members, will determine the finalists. By involving our partners in the review process, the goal is to increase the possible matches between the finalists and our partners.

What should I expect if my team is selected as a finalist? 

As a finalist, your challenge is our challenge. Finalists will be invited to our accelerator program for a period of six months aiming to facilitate peer-learning and match-making between finalists and our partners. The goal is to help increase your team’s capacities by matching potential partners, collaborators and resources to your team’s critical needs - so that your team will be ready to go on to the next level of development!

We are constantly engaging partners, prior to and during the Global Challenge program, to expand our network resources and establish a funding pool. Finalists will have the possibility to receive funding and involve our partners in the community’s ambition.

Additional commitments required as a finalist

Once selected as a Global Challenge finalist, the project owner/ team representative will be required to sign an agreement with us. This is to confirm your commitment and participation in our accelerator program. In return, we become your partner and commit to accelerating your project development with the help from our partners and our network of professionals.

What is Architecture-in-Development (A--D)? 

Architecture-in-Development is a global platform connecting 60,000+ architectural professionals who are actively exploring new meanings and opportunities in architecture. We offer an infrastructure to connect self-built communities, architects, professionals and companies so that they can collaborate on sustainable projects that otherwise would not have been realised. We organise periodical Global Challenge programs to advocate and facilitate this new practice, on our own terms, Do-It-Together (DIT) architecture.


Checklist for a successful project submission

  • Carefully read this Program Guidelines to make sure your submission is eligible and able to meet the deadline. Bare in mind that it'll take at least 48 hrs to review your submission before it can be admitted and published. 
  • Organise your story, gather good drawings, photographs and video materials. For the best result, use images no smaller than 2000 x 1600 pixels with a maximum size of 3MB. 
  • provide the following key information:
    • A header image or video (already uploaded to Youtube or Vimeo)
    • Pitch story (max. 450 characters)
    • Project introduction & one main image
    • Impact & one main image
    • Core team & one main image
    • Project budget indication
    • Specify the additional funding, expertise and resources necessary to bring your initiative to life
    • Note that each section can be illustrated by an image of video; there is also an image gallery to add more images and drawings (use images where you have permission)
  • Now register an account
  • Once you complete the account registration, you can access the submission form and get started.
  • If your submission is eligible, it will be published on the A--D website. Otherwise you might receive our feedback to improve your project submission, with the possibility of it being published after revision.
  • When your project is published online, it can no longer be edited. You may, however, provide updates to the project, and are kindly advised to do so on a regular basis to keep your audience updated.
  • After the jury process is completed, we will announce finalists. Finalists will be required to sign a partnership agreement with us, and we will work to connect your project to your vital resources. After 6 months, we will wrap up the accelerator with a public presentation. A--D will then withdraw as an active partner.