Submissions now closed

Disruptive Design is a three-part design competition that seeks to address the challenges associated with designing and building affordable, owner-occupied housing. The competition was initiated by the Chicago Housing Policy Task Force — a diverse group of organizations invested in creating affordable housing in Chicago — and carried out by a team of individuals representing those organizations.

Architects, designers, students, and those invested in urban development are invited to submit their speculative ideas for an owner-occupied housing development incorporating a flexible architectural solution that encourages wealth-building through homeownership and entrepreneurship. The competition will conclude with an occupant/buyer-ready prototype of the winning design.


The desire for affordable housing is present in both the gentrifying and underserved Chicago neighborhoods. In gentrifying areas, land values rise with desirability; in underserved areas, depreciated property and land values produce an appraisal gap that prohibits new development.

Construction of new affordable, owner-occupied housing is expensive and only becoming costlier. As the cost of construction and labor increases and incomes do not grow at pace, the affordability gap between what young professionals, small families, or first-time homebuyers can afford and the cost of construction becomes apparent to both developers and buyers—it is no longer advantageous to build starter homes. Subsidies, while helpful, cannot be the only long-term solution to this issue.



Develop a flexible residential structure that can accommodate various lot sizes and densities, as well as entrepreneurship and aging in place. Architects must innovate for affordability, utilizing new construction materials and methods, and providing single-family homes that offer opportunities for live- work situations, growing families, accessibility, and a new focus on the “gig” economy.


General question period opens:
November 15, 2018


First-round submissions:
December 1, 2018–January 31, 2019

Organized by
Thank You to Our Generous Funders
With Support From 

Chicago Community Loan Fund // Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives // Community Investment Corporation // The Resurrection Project Enterprise Community Partners // LISC // Metropolitan Planning Council // Neighborhood Housing Services // Northern Trust
Woodstock Institute

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