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Competition: Emergency Housing in Paraguay

An open international ideas contest has been announced for new temporary housing prototype to boost living conditions throughout Paraguay (Deadline: 3 November)

Open to multidisciplinary teams of students and recent graduates, the competition seeks ‘simple and efficient’ proposals for a weatherproof 5-person home which can be assembled on site by up to 10 adults within 2 days.

The call for concepts is organised by ArchSharing and supported by non-profit volunteer agency TECHO which provides modular homes in low-income rural and urban areas across Latin America. Submissions should encourage community interaction and local education, consider long-term habitation and include expansion options.

Modular housing by TECHO in Paraguay

Modular housing by TECHO in Paraguay

Modular housing by TECHO in Paraguay

According to the brief: ‘Despite all the growth of recent years, Paraguay is ranked among the poorest countries in the Americas, with more than 20 per cent of its population below the poverty line. Faced with this situation, TECHO Paraguay is mobilized to work with people living in informal settlements, where inequality and violation of rights is at its maximum. Their action is focused on community development, such as the construction of emergency housing.

‘This prototype will enable TECHO to test its efficiency in order to develop it and build it in larger quantities to help families access quality housing. The aim is to offer residents a building that responds to the emergency situation while guaranteeing their dignity and their right to a suitable home. The laureate will have the chance to build his/her project with the humanitarian association TECHO Paraguay.’

Paraguay is a land-locked country bordering Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia, and home to around eight million people. The country’s main industry is agriculture and more than a fifth of the population live in poverty with limited access to healthcare, education and formal housing.

Contest logo

Contest logo

Contest logo

TECHO was created in 1997 to reduce poverty across Latin America and has mobilised more than a million volunteers over the past two decades to deliver 115,000 homes. The organisation has pioneered a modular 18m² home which it delivers with the help of volunteers to slum areas throughout the continent.

The latest competition seeks proposals for a new prototype which could be used to help low-income families throughout Paraguay and suitable for a range of different terrains. TECHO is also supporting a similar contest for new prototype housing for Peru.

The international jury of five architects and a representative from Semillas NGO will work with the ArchSharing co-founders Sophie and Aubrey to select the best entries.

Submissions must include one A1-size board along with a 200-word explanation. The competition language is in English and judges will include German Rodriguez Olivos of DX Arquitectos and TECHO director Fernando Duarte Callizo.

The overall winner, to be announced 1 December, will receive €1,500 while a second prize of €1,000 and third prize of €500 will also be awarded along with ten honourable mentions.

How to apply


The deadline for submissions is 23:59 local time (UTC) on 3 November


Normal registration from 1 to 15 October: €80
Late registration from 16 to 31 October: €100

Contact details


View the competition website for more information

Marston Court case study: Q&A with Ross Gilbert

The managing director of QED property discusses lessons learned designing a new modular housing solution for Ealing, London

Ross Gilbert

Ross Gilbert

Ross Gilbert

How did your project deliver a modular emergency housing system for Ealing in London?

A brand new innovative approach to emergency accommodation opened in London on Thursday 6 April 2017 homing up to 72 individuals. The first of its kind, Marston Court in Ealing, is created using a kit of moveable and re-usable parts, offering a sustainable, robust, affordable and flexible solution to short-term accommodation.

Emergency accommodation in the London Borough of Ealing has become critical, with a steady decline in the availability of suitable options, Ealing Council has found it increasingly difficult to provide in-borough temporary accommodation. The opening of Marston Court has improved this.

Marston Court

Marston Court

Marston Court

The Marston Court development on Bordars Walk, Ealing, is located on a previously disused brownfield site that attracted fly-tipping and anti-social activity. The new development comprises four pavilions with 34 secure, ready to move in fully furnished apartments, a management office, laundry and refuse storage. Bringing vacant land back into productivity with interim use.

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

Marston Court uses re-purposed shipping containers as the building blocks for the development. These were softened with wooden checkerboard cladding and soft landscaping, however, we felt it was important to not hide the fact that they were shipping containers and to embrace this within the design.

Marston Court

Marston Court

Marston Court

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing new emergency housing for Paraguay?

Our temporary accommodation solutions are rapidly deployable and perfectly suited to brownfield site developments, which means that we can address this issue immediately for the short-term and bring vacant land back into productivity quickly. Well-designed schemes using a kit of re-usable parts provide low cost, environmentally friendly solutions to their emergency accommodation challenges. Handled sensitively, they provide the components to adaptable living and workspaces.

Marston Court

Marston Court

Marston Court

Q&A with the ARCHsharing team

The organisers discuss their ambitions for the competition

Why are your holding an international contest for new emergency housing prototypes for Paraguay?

We are holding the contest Emergency housing in Paraguay in partnership with the NGO ‘Un techo por mi pais’ in order to offer local people a decent habitation unit. At the same time, we are giving the opportunity to a young architect (student or not) to build their own habitation prototype. We are organising a student competition because we think that is important to give more visibility to the young architect generation. We gave individual feedback to everyone and more than 30 teams will see their work published in a book which is sent across the globe. For our third edition we want participants to work on habitation and how to respond to an urgent lack of habitation. We want to sensibilise the new architect generation as it’s a big question across the globe due to political or climatic damage. New ideas will stem from the alignment of training, talent and emotions.

What is your vision for the future emergency housing?

The housing is a prototype that will have to be flexible and adaptable because it will be reproduced in different places. Therefore, its modularity is an important point to facilitate the appropriation and the adaptation according to the needs of the family. It will be necessary to think of a system that facilitates its expansion, so that it is not a precarious transitional shelter, but a home that can become more spacious and comfortable over time. It should be a comfortable, adaptable, sustainable, liveable habitation unit. At the same time, the aesthetic is as important as the rest of the criteria! With this competition we aim to provide not a shelter, but a beautiful and enjoyable habitation unit for a five-person family.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

Registration is open to all students of schools and universities in relation with architecture from all over the world. We are encouraging cross-disciplinary teams for innovation, teams with a strong drive to see their project being built event before graduation! The winning project will be built with our partner TECHO. Our partner will secure the site, raise money, manage permissions and supply chain. The laureate will be encouraged to go to Nepal to participate in the preliminary studies and become involved in the construction work of his own building.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

ARCHsharing makes it possible for a global community of students, young professionals, experienced architects and communities to debate and devise the future. With our previous competition, Community Center in Nepal, we saw the capacity of young architects to answer serious social issues with innovation and pertinent ideas. It’s a purely bottom-up adventure and that’s what’s absolutely fascinating. We stay open for the future, being confident that environmental, social and economic challenges will attract innovative thinking.

Are there any other recent emergency housing projects you have been impressed by?

The Shigeru Ban shelter project is really impressive because it perfectly matches the urgent need for cheap habitation and aesthetic quality. The most representative one is the Paper Log House in India. As far as the social and sustainable approach goes, Daniel Moreno Flores (jury member of this contest) has done incredible work playing with materiality, using cheap or recycle material in such an original way. His projects are full of astuteness and cleverness. The rehabilitation of the Casa Alegrana is particularly impressive.