Competition Brief

Members of the AIA North Carolina Activate14 committee and the Raleigh/Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness invite you to share your ideas on a new typology for urban housing: a twelve unit community of tiny homes to help address the problem of homelessness in urban centers. The site is comprised of 4 vacant lots owned by the City of Raleigh, just outside Historic Boylan Heights in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. Raleigh is a prosperous capital city with a population of 432,000.

This design competition is generated by the presence of homelessness throughout our nation. There is a pressing need in cities like Raleigh for affordable housing to serve people without a stable dwelling place. Tiny home communities cannot eliminate poverty or homelessness, but they can create a more lively, caring, and diverse city. The goal is to generate innovative tiny home communities that can repair andenliven our social fabric and help people transition out of homelessness.

The site, at the SE corner of S West Street and W Lenoir Street, provides an opportunity for designers to explore and develop the following:

  • Affordable micro-housing to serve people whose lives are in transition.
  • A community center and garden to support the residents.
  • Modularity and prefabrication.
  • An environment that includes natural ecology and sustainable lifestyles.
  • Leftover city land as a resource for mending social and urban fabric.
  • The role a dwelling can play in helping someone establish a sense of importance and home.


The 2014 Point-in-Time count estimated approximately 11,500 individuals in North Carolina who were homeless. This number includes people residing in emergency shelters, domestic violence shelters, transitional housing, and places not meant for human habitation such as cars, parks, streets, and encampments. It does not include people living in hotels or motels, or staying with friends and family.

Small-scale projects like tiny Homes should be embraced as part of a more systemic approach to solving homelessness. No single intervention, whether it comes from economists, community organizers, architects, or scientists, is enough but a bunch of good ones can help show the way.

Other projects in Seattle,Washington; Austin, Texas; St. Cloud, Minnesota; Newfield, New York; and Madison, Wisconsin have very successful examples of low-cost private housing to give people support, privacy, and dignity while transitioning out of homelessness. The Raleigh/Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness plans to build a future tiny home community to be wrapped with existing services such as transportation, educational opportunities, and other support services.


Created in 2006, THE RALEIGH/WAKE PARTNERSHIP TO END AND PREVENT HOMELESSNESS is the integrated efforts of The City of Raleigh and Wake County governments to address the need to end and prevent homelessness. Their mission is to strategically lead and engage the community in collaborative efforts to prevent and move people out of homelessness. Their involvement is a contribution of three guiding principles; advocacy, convening and communicating.


Section One
Competition Brief


Located just outside the historic Boylan Heights neighborhood, the site is .32 acres southwest of Raleigh’s city center. The site is walkable to downtown, adjacent to two bus lines and the Amtrak station. The neighborhood is surrounded by a variety of small shops and amenities.

Several churches are nearby.

  • In conjunction with the goals of self-sufficiency and sustainability, the community center should aim to be a net-zero energy consumer.
  • The design should provide the ability to grow fruits and vegetables, either as part of the individual unit or integrated into the publicly shared areas.
  • The maximum height is 40 feet from existing grade.
  • Site setbacks are shown on the site plan (download from


The program intent is an innovative urban community within the defined space where residents feel engaged, important, safe, and welcome. The design should encourage broad interaction with life on the street and the nearby neighborhood. The community will be self-governed by its residents.

  • Provide 12 units, each a maximum of 144 square feet.
  • Each unit will have a water closet and lavatory basin, bed, and sitting/eating area to be occupied by a single resident.
  • The units will be served by a community garden and a commons building of 1,500 SF which will provide a kitchen, common area, laundry, showers, and work/study space.
  • Porches are important architectural elements and should be considered in conjunction with interior space (not included in total SF).
  • Units should be self contained so that they could be moved to another site.
  • Provide off street parking for two (2) cars.

Section Two


BRYAN BELL, DesignCorps + SEEDs

Bryan Bell founded Design Corps in 1991 with the mission is “to provide the benefits of architecture to those traditionally un-served by the profession.” At Design Corps, Bell started an internship program with the AmeriCorps national service program for young designers interested in the social application of architecture. The Design Corps’ summer design/build studio teaches critical community organizing skills to designers. In 1985, Bell worked as Project Director with Samuel Mockbee at Rural Studio on three houses for rural families in Mississippi. The project received a Progressive Architecture Award in 1986. He holds degrees from Princeton and Yale.


Andrew Freer is the Director of the Auburn University Rural Studio in Newbern, Alabama. The Rural Studio is a hands on architectural pedagogy that teaches students through thinking, designing and making homes and community projects for the underserved people of West Alabama. In 2015, the Rural Studio will receive the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award for its socially responsible architecture and teaching. Mr Freear has lectured about the Rural Studio worldwide and is a member of the Newbern Volunteer Fire Department.

DAN ROCKHILL, Studio 804 + Rockhill and Associates

Dan Rockhill is Executive Director of Studio 804 and J. L. Constant Distinguished Professor of Architecture at the University of Kansas School of Architecture. Studio 804 is a not-for-profit organization that teaches architecture through building, beginning with design concepts and ending with driving nails. Rockhill and his students have designed and constructed 20 projects since 1995 ranging from affordable houses to an addition to the KU School of Architecture. Their work, which is shaped by the land and culture of the Kansas region, is recognized internationally for its sustainable design and inventive building solutions.

A board member of the Raleigh/Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessess and a potential resident will bejoining the jury.


1. Construction and Use

Includes the use of regional and recyclable materials, the possibility of modular or pre-fabricated construction, and the potential for a long and evolving life of the structure.

2. Affordability

The design should use commonly available construction means and materials so that it can be replicated in many locations.

3. Neighborhood

Designs should enforce a sense of connection to the urban fabric. On a micro scale you are molding the tiny homes, while on a macro scale you are integrating a unique residential community into the life of the town.

4. Climate

Raleigh is located in a temperate environment with hot, humid summers and relatively mild winters. You are encouraged to take advantage of the exceptionally fine weather in spring and fall.

Section Three
About the Competition



The competition is open internationally to all students in a certified architectural program, un-licensed design professionals, and licensed

Architects. Individuals or teams may submit more than one entry, but each entry will receive separate ID numbers and require an additional

entry fee.


Top prize *$1,500
Merit award(s) *$250
* exact amounts based on sponsorship and number of submissions


Monday, February 16 Announced

Monday, February 23 Registration Opens

Friday, April 3 Deadline for Questions

Friday, April 10 Release FAQ sheet

Friday, May 22, 11:59PM EST Registration Closes

Sunday, May 31, 11:59PM EST Submission Deadline

Thursday, June 25 Public Announcement of winner at Activate14 event

September 24-26th AIANC Conference Exhibition + Presentation

Section Four
Submission Requirements


1. Registration

Registration fee is $50 (USD). Multiple entries will require a registration fees with each. Registration opens Monday, February 23rd. Go to to complete the process.

2. Application

An application form and unique ID number will be sent to you upon registration. Title as [ID#]_Application (e.g. 1234_Application)

3. Graphics

Two 24” x 36” boards as hi-res PDF no larger than 100 MB total. Title as [ID#]_Boards (e.g. 1234_Boards)

Boards may include additional drawings and images as deemed necessary by entrants, but boards are required to include:

• Site Plan

• Site and building sections

• One or more rendered exteriors

• One or more rendered interiors

• ID number in top right corner

• and other diagrams and images as you see fit.

4. Project Description

Describe your project in no more than 500 words submitted as one-page PDF. Contestants should read judging criteria, and use this written portion to portray how their design is sensitive to the needs of the residents and facilitates community interaction. Title as [ID#]_Project.

5. Physical Model (Optional)

Model of typical unit at . inch = 1 foot. There are no material restrictions. Make sure your ID number is visible on the model. Out-of-state and international participants may submit model photographs instead of physical model. Physical models should be delivered to:

Activate14 Tiny Home Competition
14 East Peace Street, 3rd Floor
Raleigh, North Carolina 27604

Section Five

Submit materials electronically to via email or a file transfer service by 11:59 PM, Sunday, May 31, 2015 (EST).You will receive confirmation of your submittal within 2 business days.

Section Six
Fine Print



Use of names or logos on competition materials or incomplete submissions may result in disqualification. Once the final submissions are uploaded, no additional edits, uploads, or changes can be made. Updates will be posted on the competition website and sent to registered applicants.


Activate 14 reserves the right to retain ownership of all competition materials to use in exhibitions or publications without compensation to the entrants. Each competitor will retain full copyright unless stated otherwise. No submissions will be returned.


Competition entrants may submit questions until Friday, April 3, 2015 to All questions will be answered and sent to registered entrants no later than Friday, April 10, 2015. The Q&A will also be posted on the website.


The following links are resources for information on cities taking the lead on homelessness, tiny homes, and tiny home communities:


For information on more design competitions visit: