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Architects for Azaz

An International Competition To Redesign Homes for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Syria


The Architects for Azaz competition is an international call to action for architects and designers to create innovative, sustainable, and culturally sensitive housing solutions for the displaced people of Syria. The competition seeks to address the complex crisis in Azaz, northwestern Syria, by creating a new urban quarter that provides shelter and recreates a sense of home, community, and belonging. The competition is open to architects, designers, engineers, and students worldwide, and the winning design will be implemented in Azaz, Syria.

History of Azaz; Northwestern Syria

Azaz, Located in the northwest of Syria, has a deep and varied history, reflecting the broader stories of the region. It’s been an essential place for many empires and civilizations, as a critical fortress town and a main battleground during different times. After Syria gained independence, Azaz became the center of its district. Recently, Azaz has become a stable place in the middle of the chaos of the Syrian War. This stability has brought many NGOs to the area to start housing projects, giving shelter and help to those affected by the conflict. Its secure setting and location near the Turkish border make Azaz an excellent place for carrying out these projects. NGOs see the need for long-lasting housing solutions and have chosen Azaz as a central point for their work. As a hub for these projects, Azaz is providing a safe place, aiming to bring back stability, community, and hope to those who have lost their homes.


Now in its twelfth year, the Syrian conflict has led to one of the most significant displacements in recent history, with over 12.5 million people uprooted. This crisis has left millions without homes and deeply affected the essence of "dwelling," eroding the sense of identity, community, and security.

City Challenges:

Azaz faces overcrowding due to an influx of 2.9 million refugees. The emergency housing need has led to the repurposing of agricultural land, posing risks to local food security and the environment. As a result of rapid development, the area's natural environment and lack of public spaces have been negatively impacted.

IDP Challenges:

The majority of IDPs live in harsh conditions with insufficient space and privacy, struggling to establish a new sense of belonging amid affordable housing shortages.

NGO Challenges:

Despite being at the forefront of relief, NGOs face resource constraints and the challenge of rapidly building quality, low-cost housing.

Call to entry

We invite the international architectural community to rise to the challenge of designing innovative, sustainable, and culturally sensitive housing solutions for the displaced people of Syria. This competition seeks to address the complex crisis in Azaz, northwestern Syria, by creating a new urban quarter that provides shelter and recreates a sense of home, community, and belonging.

Download the full brief.

Response: Main Task

Design a Housing Complex:

Participants are tasked with designing a housing complex that accommodates 500-600 families, incorporating cultural, commercial, educational, and public functions.

Balance Social Responsibility and Community Diversity:

The design must harmoniously balance social responsibility, community diversity, and vibrant public spaces, curating spaces that spark interactions and nurture a sense of community.

Create Resilient and Adaptable Spaces:

The design must be resilient and adaptable, considering future scenarios, changing community needs, and integrating public and private functions to foster a cohesive community fabric.

Consider Cost Efficiency and Construction Feasibility:

The design must be realistic, feasible, and cost-efficient, considering local resources, available skills, and budget constraints.

Design Program

-Housing Units-Public Square-Youth Center-Sport Facilities-Daycare-Administration-Market-Bakery
Download the detailed Design Programme.

Competition Site


The competition site is located on the main road between Nayarah and Azaz in Northwestern Syria. This region has emerged as a stable hub amid the chaos of the Syrian Civil War, attracting NGOs to implement housing projects for those affected by the conflict.

Historical Value:

The site bears significant historical value as a testament to the resilience of the local community in the face of adversity. Originally agricultural land, it has been repurposed multiple times to meet the community's changing needs, providing shelter to displaced persons and symbolizing the region's ongoing efforts to provide stable, secure housing.

Current Use:

Encircled by various Molham housing projects, the site offers a unique perspective on the housing situation in Azaz. It has previously been utilized as a temporary housing area by the Molham Volunteering Team, reflecting the city's struggles and triumphs.



Project evaluations will focus on four key areas: the design's capacity to foster community interaction and connection; the incorporation of sustainable, energy-efficient practices and local materials; the promotion of personal connection and pride among residents; and the design's resilience to climatic and seismic changes, ensuring durability and safety.


Design adaptability to meet the community's evolving needs will be crucial in the evaluation process. This includes the thoughtful planning of communal areas to encourage social integration and foster a sense of ownership. The organization and hierarchy of spaces will be assessed for clarity and usability, ensuring a smooth flow within the living environment. A key focus will also be maintaining a balanced approach to privacy, ensuring that individual needs are respected within the communal living setup.


The evaluation will emphasize the scalability of designs, assessing their adaptability to various contexts. Cost efficiency will also be a key factor, focusing on economic construction methods that maintain quality. Furthermore, the feasibility of the designs will be judged based on their alignment with local resources, available skills, and budget constraints, ensuring practical and sustainable implementation.

Competition Schedule

Dec 25, 2023
Competition launch
Jan 10, 2023
Deadline for Receiving Questions
Jan 2023
Molham Projects seminar
Mar 14, 2024
Registration deadline
Mar 15, 2024
Submission deadline
Apr 2024
Shortlist announcement
Apr 2024
Winner announcement
All deadlines are at 23:59 GMT.


The competition is open to individuals and multidisciplinary teams of up to 6 members, including architects, urban designers, engineers, students, social workers, sociologists, and other design enthusiasts. Collaboration across specialties is encouraged to foster innovative and holistic solutions


  1. This is an anonymous competition, and the Unique Registration Number is the only means of identification.
  2. The official language of the award is English.
  3. The registration fee for this award is non-refundable.
  4. Contacting the jury is prohibited.
  5. As the award organizer, Mimaria Studio reserves the right to modify the schedule if necessary.
  6. Entries are only reviewed if rules or submission requirements are followed.
  7. Participation assumes acceptance of the regulations.
  8. By participating in this competition, entrants acknowledge that the Molham team retains the right to alter, adjust, or adapt the winning designs for implementation or other related purposes to ensure they comply with local regulations and are feasible. However, the designers will retain the intellectual property rights of the original designs.

Submission Requirements

A0 Board:

Submit one A0 board in JPEG format at 300 dpi resolution. Include all necessary information to explain your proposal, such as the modules plan, master plan, plans, sections, elevations, visualizations, and diagrams. Place the unique registration number in the upper left corner of the board in 22pt font.

Project Statement:

Include a Word file containing a concise project statement (maximum 250 words) explaining the design proposal.

Main View:

Provide an independent one view of the entry in JPEG format (16:9 ratio), preferably a bird's eye view of the project at 300 dpi resolution.

Submission Method:

Use the upload link in your registration confirmation email to submit your entry.

Poster Layout:

You should use landscape layout for your posters.

Zip File Contents:

Your submission should be contained in a zip file, including 1 A0 board (JPEG – 300 dpi), 1 Word document (250 words max), and one central image (16:9) of the project (JPEG – 300 dpi).


-First Place: $10,000-Second Place: $5,000-Third Place: $3,000-20 Honorable Mentions (certificates & publication)