Design It: Shelter Competition Winners Offer Protection from the Elements

Shelters should provide a relationship between architecture and place. That’s the premise of the Design it: Shelter competition, which asked designers to submit a 3-D shelter meant for any location in the world. Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s challenge to his apprentices to build a structure in the Arizona desert and live and study in it, Google and the Guggenheim’s competition attracted almost 600 entrants who used Google SketchUp and Google Earth to design their shelters.

The winners of the competition are, unsurprisingly, “green” in the sense that they blend into their natural environments and adapt to changing conditions.


The People’s Prize Winner, CBS — Cork Block Shelter by David Mares, is designed for Vale dos Barris, Portugal. The surrounding climate swings from damp heat to dry cold, so the shelter’s cork facade provides insulation from the elements. At the same time, the cork offers acoustic insulation for studying and sleeping.


The winner of the $1,000 Juried Prize, David Eltang’s Seashelter, is made for the coastline of Denmark’s Wadden sea. The coastline is unique–it has shallow waters but high tides and exposed seabed at low tide. So the shelter, which features an observation and resting tower, offers inhabitants the opportunity to stay inside at both high and low tide. It’s a shelter design that could be useful in any flood-prone area.