Syria: Post-War Housing Competition
An international open ideas competition for architecture students and young architects is initiated to research the new housing concepts for the future of the post-war Syria. The civil war in Syrian Arab Republic, which has started in 2011, created the biggest refugee crisis after the World War II. According to UNHCR, over 4 300 000 people has left the country and fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and now Europe. While world leaders are looking for the international solution of the Syrian civil war and refugee crisis, many Syrians are looking forward for the opportunity to come back home as soon as the war is over.

Competition participants are asked to propose a solution for housing scarcity crisis, which will affect the country as more and more cities of the war-torn country will be freed and refugees will start to come back. Living conditions in the current refugee camps and temporary buildings across Europe and other countries are mostly inhuman, making refugees feel desperate, since there’s also nowhere to come back as the Syrian towns are in ruins, offering nothing to people who once lived there.

The vital part of the new housing concept should become a creation of such living conditions which will be attractive for once displaced Syrians to return. People, who spent years in temporary shelters and adapted buildings, will look for “solid ground” to begin a new life. New housing concept should be able to permanently accommodate people in need of a new home and become a new page in the history of Syria.

Program & location

There are no restrictions in regards to the size of the housing block or its location within Syria’s border. The objective is to provide maximum freedom for all participants to develop a project in the most creative way and to push the boundaries of how the new post-war housing should look like. However, it is required to provide a detailed scheme of the smallest (or key) housing unit(s) and the principle of their arrangement in large groups.

Participants are asked to

- Introduce new housing concept for the post-war Syria, which will in short-term provide qualitative solution for mass social housing with at least 50+ years lifespan;
- Choose either developed or non-developed site;
- Define approach towards existing constructions (damaged and/or ruined);
- Provide flexibility and adaptability of living spaces/buildings through time;
- Take into consideration local construction and living culture;
- Minimize energy consumption by implementing innovations in the field of sustainable design;

More information can be found in the Competition Brief, which is available in the Download Secion.

Evaluation Criteria

- Architectural innovation: aesthetics and originality;
- Integration of the new housing with chosen context;
- Flexibility of the housing layouts;
- Adaptability for various target groups;
- Reinterpretation of the local building culture;
- Sustainability, functionality, structural efficiency;
- Meeting the mission statement requirements;
- Meeting the submission requirements;
- Design representation clearness;
- Clarity and comprehensibility of the overall design.

1st of February 2016 – Official announcement of the competition.
8th of February 2016 - Start of the registration period.
29th of February 2016 – Deadline for submission of questions.
7th of March 2016 - Latest version of the FAQ publication.
30th of April 2016 – Registration Deadline (23:59 UTC time).
14th of May 2016 – Closing date for submissions (23:59 UTC time).
16th of May 2016 – 24th of June 2015 – Jury evaluation.
18th of July 2016 – Announcement of results.
TBD - Exhibition of best projects.

Architects, students, engineers, and designers are invited to participate in the competition. We encourage you to have multidisciplinary teams.

Participants must register by April 30, 2016
Early Registration: 60 EUR until 29th of February 2016.

Standard Registration: 80 EUR from 1st of March till 2nd of April 2016
Late Registration: 100 EUR from 3rd of April till 30th of April 2016

The total money prize is 6000 EUR.
1st place: 3000 EUR + certificate
2nd place: 2000 EUR + certificate
3rd place: 1000 EUR + certificate
Honorable Mentions Award: 7 Awards + certificate
Editor’s Choice Award: granted individual publication on our blog and social media pages to three entries that are carefully selected by matterbetter_dev editors.
Top 50: Fifty short-listed entries featured in one single online publication on our blog and social media pages.

Dick van Gameren (NL) - Partner Mecanoo and Chairman of Architecture Department of TU Delft
Urko Sanchez (ES/KE) – Founder Urko Sanchez Architects

Felix Madrazo (NL) – Co-Founder Inter.National.Design
Riccardo Luca Conti (UK) – Executive Director Catalytic Action
Laurens Bekemans (BE) – Co-Founder BC Architects
Rune Asholt (DK) – Chairman Architects Without Borders (Arkitekter Uden Grænser)
Cristina Cassandra Murphy (US) - Owner XCOOP, former OMA
Daria Polozkova (NL/RU), Founder The ART GLOBE and art-director of Mir-Expo

We highly recommend our participants to check the FAQ section on the matterbetter_dev website as this will provide additional vital information. In case you have questions, please send them to with FAQ subject until 29th of February 2016. All answers will be posted in our blog on 7th of March 2016. If you request Direct Bank Transfer, do not forget to check your SPAM folders, since sometimes our e-mails might end up there. 

Dear Participants, in case you use Microsoft-based e-mail accounts (hotmail/live/outlook/etc) and did not receive your Registration Details, please send an e-mail to team [at], and we will send you your information manually. We work hard on fixing this issue with Microsoft-based e-mail accounts.

matterbetter_dev is not responsible for the completeness and accuracy of the information provided on other websites that have links to the site and is not responsible for consequences caused by any inaccuracy of this information.This competition should be treated as an open study and research which aims to push the boundaries of the housing solutions in the post-conflict areas. No real construction is planned at the moment. The competition is organized for educational and research purposes only.