Trash to Treasure- New Competition

Our new competition is just up over at tesseractcompetitions, you should give it a go! Take a look through our competition site and you’ll find some great work that has been submitted over the past few months- it’s been incredible to see people right around the world engaging with humanitarian issues. This competition will make a special appearance at our up and coming exhibition “Beyond Bricks”, where you will be able to come along and draw up your entry, and it will be put up and become a part of the exhibition!

“Rubbish may be universal, but it is little studied and poorly understood. Nobody knows how much of it the world generates or what it does with it.” – The Economist magazine, “Talking Rubbish” June 7th 2007

In the first stage of the “Build our Nation” project which took place at the start of April we were conceptualising a women’s community centre for an area in the Democratic Republic of Congo, through workshops in Aberdeen, Milan, Barcelona and Reus. Something which many of the student teams taking part picked up on was the possibility of using waste materials cleverly in their design in order to make it more sustainable and economical for the community; there were proposals which involved using plastic bottles as walls which could filter rain water, car tyres to form waterproof seals in roofs, and old advertising canvases as weatherproofing. There is a trend to make us more aware of what we waste on a day to day basis, and what we are able to recycle, but there are still so many untapped possibilities for what can be done with waste materials.

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In first year studying architecture we were given the challenge to build a shanty town house in a 2x3m plot, which our team of 8 would be able to sleep in. Our £5 budget was instantly blown on a bag of nails and some tape, and so it was down to us to scour the streets and building sites for scraps which could be useful. I think everyone was surprised with what could be found, and our shanty town was soon taking shape with arrays of old ovens, front doors, blackboards, piping and plastic sheeting (to name a few materials).

Rubbish doesn’t necessarily mean ugly, which has been shown by architects and designers who have been working with these ideas recently, and there are some fantastic examples of what can be done in art and architecture with materials that are considered completely worthless.

The Challenge

We are asking you to design something beautiful and useful that uses material that are otherwise thrown away. How can your design change people’s attitude towards what is rubbish, and what we waste? We are looking for a creative and imaginative response, where new and innovative uses are found for items which are considered worthless. Being able to design using wasted materials can transform communities who have barely anything, so we would love to see your ideas, however crazy they might be.

The deadline for entries is midnight on Sunday 1st May, and the winner will be announced in the following week.

Submission Guide

  • Send your concept as a single Landscape image. It can just be a scanned drawing, doodle, or a photograph, ideally for us it would be an A3 Jpeg at 300dpi, but if you can’t manage that then don’t worry! (oh, and don’t put your name or logo in the image)
  • A maximum of 100 words can be included on your image to help explain your concept quickly.
  • Email your submission to us at
  • Click the “pay now” link on the Enter Now page to pay the £3 entry fee.

Prize & Judging

Half the money collected from entries will be sent straight to Anusaran to fund their building project in West Delhi. The other half of the money goes to the competition winner, as decided by a panel of tutors from Scott Sutherland School of Architecture in Aberdeen. The prize will be awarded via pay-pal, or a viable alternative if that’s an issue.

We don’t deduct and charges, or take running or admin costs out of these amounts.

Further Reading and Inspiration


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