Zero Threshold Design Competition
Total awards: 11000 $
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Info & Rules

Contest info


Zero Threshold is an ideas competition for a real-world problem. In this first phase of the competition, entrants are encouraged to envision bold and innovative ideas for housing, public spaces, and neighborhoods that expand the practice of accessible design and barrier-free living.

A later phase of the competition will advance the strongest ideas into implementation

The Zero Threshold design competition was inspired by (dis)ABLED Beauty, an exhibition at the Kent State University Museum in 2016-17. The exhibition presented beautifully designed prostheses, hearing aids, and mobility devices for people living with disabilities, (dis)ABLED Beauty aimed to change the negative stigma associated with disability by presenting fashion-forward adaptive devices that make a virtue of necessity. 

Zero Threshold applies a similar approach to the design of accessible housing. Instead of making accessible features as functional and invisible as possible, this competition challenges designers to celebrate the aesthetics of accessibility. The competition encompasses new residential construction, accessory dwelling units, interior design and retrofit of existing housing, accessible public space and landscape design, and holistic urban design strategies aimed at eliminating physical and social barriers in urban neighborhoods. 

Zero Threshold uses a real neighborhood—Old Brooklyn in Cleveland, Ohio—as a stand-in for traditional urban neighborhoods throughout the United States and in other parts of the world. Competition entries are expected to respond to the local context while also expanding ideas about accessibility in ways that translate to other places.

The competition is open to students and professionals, working individually or in teams. Winning entries will receive monetary awards and be featured in an exhibition and publication. The most compelling and innovative projects may be constructed in a future second phase of the competition. 

Number of winners







Urban Designer

Start date

11 April 2019  -  27 June 2019


11 April 2019  -  27 June 2019





Grand Prize
$8 000
The grand prize winner also will win the cash award for the category they entered.
Those categories are: Retrofit - Colonial/Duplex, Single Family - New Construction, Accessory Dwelling Unit, Community Gathering Space, Holistic/Neighborhood Approach, Student Award
Retrofit - Colonial/Duplex
$2 000
Single Family - New Construction
$1 000
Accessory Dwelling Unit
$1 000
Community Gathering Space
$1 000
Holistic/Neighborhood Approach
$1 000
Student Award
$1 000


Age restriction: /

Available for citizens: Worldwide