IHBC’s COVID-19 signpost 69: RIBA on ‘Rethink: 2025’… Design for life after Covid-19, and win £5K, closing 12 June

When we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic a new sort of design will be needed, and how would you design the new world we will find ourselves in, asks the RIBA,  as it announces ‘Rethink: 2025’, while you could win £5000, with a closing date of 12.

The RIBA Journal writes:

Six months after Patient Zero first manifested symptoms of coronavirus in Wuhan, China, the world feels like a very different place. The deeply affecting infection rates and death toll aside, the accompanying economic shutdown that spread westwards across the globe has resulted in a recessionary climate not seen since the Great Depression.

Booker Prize winner and activist Arundhati Roy declared ‘the pandemic is a portal’; and we are all gradually coming to realise that, once we have emerged from the lockdown tunnel, we will have arrived somewhere else.

We are launching a competition asking you to imagine what kind of a world it might be, with the first prize sponsored by Arup.

‘Social distancing’, ‘self-isolation’ and ‘lockdown’ are words that have become an established part of the pandemic lexicon but they also intimate new spatial relationships, both physical and psychological, that must be taken account of and designed for.

Arup, sponsor of the £5000 first prize, adds: ‘As an industry we have a critical role to play in shaping a better post-pandemic world. It’s a time to rethink assumptions and apply our expertise in radical new ways at pace. This is a moment to be brave, try new ideas and collaborate closely with others to develop a resilient and liveable future for all.

‘At Arup we’re asking ourselves “how will we build back better?”. That is the question at the heart of this design challenge, which is why we’re proud to support all those who are prepared to bring big ideas to the table.’


We invite all RIBA members, from any category of membership including student members, to submit a speculative proposition at any scale – in-detail or wide-ranging – that offers a positive and tangible response to one or more of the above issues or others arising from the pandemic. Does it also facilitate the step-change in thinking needed to meet our 2050 climate change commitments? How can your design idea help generate a better paradigm for living once we have passed throughthe portal of the pandemic?

What will your paradigm for living be?

We want architects and students to consider life in 2025 and how the pandemic will have modified the way humans interact with space and one another, and how design can mitigate its worst effects.

Breathing space: We created new hospitals in two weeks. What will healthcare spaces look like in five years?

Schools out: Will remote learning become the norm? Will there be any more ‘gown’ in our ‘town’?

How will we live? Will home life become an increasingly atomised experience? Did the pandemic’s high death rates cause the death of high density?

What will be the future of work and our workspaces? What will be the new business as usual? Will we all be praying for the return of paternoster lifts?

Infrastructure and public realm: How will we move safely through the city? Will the commuter’s rush involve less crush? Will our parks and squares and roads reflect our new-found love of fresh air?

Window shopping? Did covid-19 finish off what online shopping started on the high street? If so, where do you now go to try before you buy?

Travel and tourism: Will we miss the plane but rediscover a love of trains? Will our long-haul world shrink and our seaside towns get an upgrade?

Soft power: Will track and trace apps make us slave to the nanny state or will technology offer a new, democratising potential?


Small or large, we are looking for proposals that represent big thinking and we have assembled an evaluation panel of five design leaders and radical thinkers together with our panel chair, RIBAJ editor Hugh Pearman. Joining Pearman will be Francine Houben (Mecanoo), Matt Jones (Google AI), Sarah Castle (IF_DO), Arup’s Ed Clark and Joanna Averley, London Mayor’s design advocate.

Submissions should be on two A3 sheets. This should be accompanied with maximum 500-word description and, if desired, a visual media presentation of up to two minutes.

The design idea that, in the judges’ opinion, best encapsulates the new spirit of a post-Covid-19 era will be declared winner of the £5000 prize, sponsored by Arup. There will be a £2000 second prize and £1000 third prize. For full conditions see below.

All winners will be published in the August issue of the RIBA Journal…..

Closing date Friday 12 June 2020, 14.00 hrs

Read more….

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