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Competition: Canyon View Accommodation, Arizona

An open international ideas contest has been launched for a pop-up structure on the West Rim of the Grand Canyon (Deadline: 3 February)

Open to students and recently graduated architects and designers, the competition seeks proposals for temporary visitor accommodation and other facilities in an area between Kanab Canyon and Marble Canyon.

The call for ideas, organised by Spain’s Arquideas, aims to promote debate over the potential for delivering high-quality contemporary architecture within this relatively undeveloped segment of the popular and historic national park.



Source: Image by Dietmar Rabich

Grand Canyon

According to the brief, the competition aim is ‘to propose a temporary accommodation space for visitors in such unique and delicate spaces as the Grand Canyon.

‘Thanks to its privileged location, the proposed spaces aim to become an international benchmark in the world of tourist accommodation, not only for its location but for the characteristics of its morphology in relation to its site and the unique experience offered to visitors.’

The Grand Canyon National Park was founded in 1919 as one of the United States’ first wilderness parks. Today it offers a range of outdoor activities from hiking to horse riding and helicopter flights.

At its centre is a dramatic and steep-sided canyon carved by the Colorado River over 17 million years and around 446km long, 29km wide and 1.8km deep. The world-famous landscape, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, is divided into three main areas known as the North Rim, South Rim and West Rim.

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Contest site

The South Rim and North Rim areas already have various lodges and hotels for visitors, but the West Rim, which has become more popular in recent years, has little overnight accommodation.

The Grand Canyon Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped cantilever bridge with a glass walkway and the Hualapai Indian Reservation just outside the National Park are among the main attractions that bring visitors to this area

Proposals for the new structure can be located between anywhere between Kanab Canyon and Marble Canyon, and may include overnight accommodation, a restaurant, reception, gym, café, swimming pool, spa, car parking and a heliport.

Submissions should include an A1-sized presentation board in JPG and PDF format, displaying images along with proposed plans and a textual description.

Proposals will be evaluated by a seven-strong jury including Zaha Hadid Architects principal Patrik Schumacher and Coop Himmelb(l)au founder Wolf D Prix.

The overall winner is set to be announced on 31 March, and will receive a €3,750 prize. There will also be a second prize of €1,500, third prize of €625, community prize of €500 and five honourable mentions.

How to apply


The deadline for submissions is 24:00 (GMT) on 3 February.


Early registration from 17 October to 9 December: € 50 individual, € 75 team
Regular registration from 10 December to 20 January: € 75 individual, € 100 team

Contact details


View the competition website for more information

A Room for London case study: Q&A with David Kohn

The founder and director of David Kohn Architects discusses lessons learned designing a temporary guest house for London’s South Bank

David Kohn Architects

David Kohn Architects

David Kohn

How did your Room for London project deliver a temporary visitor accommodation with views over a world-famous landscape?

The Room is in the form of a boat, balanced on the edge of the Queen Elizabeth Hall roof, seemingly beached by the receding waters of the Thames below. Named Roi des Belges, after the paddle steamer Joseph Conrad captained up the Congo, inspiring his novella, Heart of Darkness, the craft is an invitation to travel through literature and one’s imagination. An extraordinary panoramic view of London, stretching from Big Ben in the west to St Paul’s in the east, allows guests aboard to see the city in a new light. Fiona Banner and I set out to create a visitor experience of dramatic contrast between public and private space; the familiar and domestic are all here, contained within this intimate structure, perched on one of London’s most public vantage points. Despite this, the visitors’ privacy is completely protected and it is they who are able to look out at London and the people below.



Room for London by David Kohn Architects

Which architectural, material and other considerations are important when designing and constructing temporary buildings for clifftop sites?

Architectural considerations should include views from and to the building, the construction (eg off-site fabrication), time to de-mount, and conditions for construction on site. Material considerations should take into account weathering, waterproofing, selecting materials that withstand the specific outdoors conditions (extreme heat and/or cold) and the use of local crafts/ skills and manufacturing. Other considerations can be made about the context, which other buildings are in the vicinity, or the narrative – is there a story that connects well to the site? A dramatic site can take an ambitious narrative. Servicing is also important, providing temporary utilities if building in remote locations.

What advice would you have to participants on designing a temporary accommodation facility for the Grand Canyon?

• Be practical, think of the specifics of the site, what are the key opportunities and constraints.

• Understand the environment as well as the access.

• Research specific requirements of the visitor to the Grand Canyon,eg how can the accommodation enhance their experience?



Room for London by David Kohn Architects