Urban Re:Construct Competition Challenges Designers to Rethink the City Block

With more than half of humanity now living in cities, and the built environment set to expand massively over the next few decades, the way we create our cities may be the key to achieving a sustainable future.

By recognizing that the city block is to the built environment what the cell is to the human body, San Francisco-based Urban Re:Vision aims to revolutionize the way we plan, build and experience our cities.

Founded in 2006, Urban Re:Vision, in association with Architecture for Humanity and Rocky Mountain Institute, has organized a series of design competitions that ask urban thinkers and innovators around the world to consider the individual elements of the city block: energy, transport, economy and community.

In its latest competition, Re:Construct, Urban Re:Vision is seeking ideas for sustainable materials and building practices.

The winners of the competition will not only enjoy fame and fortune (there is a cash prize), but their ideas will actually be put into practice in a to-be-announced US city, and could end up forming the basis for a new approach to city building.Urban Re:Vision is currently in contact with four different American cities, and hopes to eventually distill the ideas from its competitions into a single experimental city block, planned and built with an eye toward total, integrated sustainability. The group plans to partner with a local mayor, city agencies and a developer to get their ideas expressed in brick and mortar.

Here's what Nicole Cassani of Urban Re:Vision told TreeHugger:

We are looking beyond what currently exists in sustainable building (i.e LEED) and trying to create a new approach to sustainable development.

Re:Construct is the fifth in our series and the last of our conceptual competitions. We are hoping that the potential building materials and/or new techniques that come out of the competition will ultimately be applied in some fashion to a site-specific location.

Our goal with this first series of competitions is to build a framework for a sustainable city block that will ultimately be applied to several city sites.

Interested in submitting your ideas to the competition? Register here. But hurry up, the competition closes September 15. Winners will be announced at West Coast Green on September 25.

Need some more inspiration? Here are some points to consider from Urban Re:Vision:

Systems need to work together wherever possible. Construction needs to be multipurpose, efficient, livable, non-toxic, non-destructive, affordable, adaptable, and logical. Consider a Zero-Net Energy Built Environment. Think about dashboard technologies, biodegradable or 100% recyclable products, modular construction, green roofs, localized heat and power generation, LEED requirements and limitations, zero-waste, gray water and water capture, non-construction re-construction, daylighting, air quality, climate change requirements, solar, and cradle to cradle design.

We can't wait to see the results of this fascinating project.

More on creating sustainable cities:
Ecocities of Tomorrow: Can Foster + Partners' Masdar City in UAE be Truly Sustainable?
The 2008 Ecocity World Summit: "Ecocity is Beautiful, Ecocity is Possible!"
This Way to Treasure Island, Ecocity

Tags: Architecture | Architecture For Humanity | Construction | Green Building | Urban Planning