2nd Annual Street Conversion Design Contest

The value of human-scaled carfree areas is increasingly appreciated, both among urbanists and the general public. Yet how can we transform existing areas to create lively people-oriented spaces free of traffic?

Through our 2nd Annual Street Conversion Design Contest, we are challenging architects, artists and ordinary citizens from around the world to design carfree spaces from formerly car-oriented spaces. And where possible, we're also encouraging people to realise the designs on the ground.

Update: Thanks to a grant from Artists' Project Earth, we are able to do further global outreach to announce this year's contest more widely. Therefore the deadline has been extended to November 15, 2007. The grant has also allowed us to offer cash prizes of €100-200.

The principle is that street space was once used for both transport and human interaction. But with the arrival of the automobile, street space has become monopolised by cars and other vehicles, resulting in a loss of community and livability. This competition aims to reintroduce a level of humanity to the streetscape, both on paper and by encouraging lasting on-the-ground initiatives.

We are asking participants to design carfree spaces from formerly car-oriented spaces, in three categories:


1. an on-street parking space (approx. 2.4 x 6 m)

>> example: PARK(ing) Day 2006
>> prizes: 1st place 200 EUR, 2nd place 150 EUR, 3rd place 100 EUR


2. a street segment of approximately 100 m in length, with an approximate width of 20 m from building to building

>> example: Mint Plaza, San Francisco
>> prizes: 1st place 200 EUR, 2nd place 150 EUR, 3rd place 100 EUR


3. an intersection, including the street space that extends out approximately 100 m in each of the four directions to the adjacent street corners (street widths building to building: approx. 20 m)

>> example: none available - we are unaware of such a project having been implemented >> prizes: 1st place 200 EUR, 2nd place 150 EUR, 3rd place 100 EUR


Submissions will be assessed by a panel of expert judges following the November 15 deadline. Winning submissions will emphasise a shift in the role of street space from traffic and parking to interaction and exchange, by:

  • concentrating destinations to reduce travel distances
  • designing features that contribute to a sense of place and community
  • choosing innovative, creative uses for space that increase quality of life
  • minimising the amount of space devoted solely to transport purposes
  • using space efficiently and eliminating wasted or "dead" space

Designs may be based on either pure imagination or specific real-life places with similar dimensions, but the designs should be realisable. The positive effects of the transformation could be improved through changes to the buildings that border the design area. These changes may be included in the submitted designs but will not be a focus for the judges, as the competition focuses on the street space.

Submissions may be in the form of a "birdís eye" and/or perspective-based drawing, any necessary supporting drawings or sketches, and an explanatory text of up to 600 words. Submissions may be submitted for multiple categories.

Although the contest is based on submitting blueprints and drawings, this year the judges will give special consideration to projects realised on the ground during the contest period (August 15 to November 15).

Note: Please read the above guidelines thoroughly. Last year some people submitted designs that weren't carfree, or were otherwise dominated by vehicles. The focus of this contest is however on non-transport uses of public space.

Submission deadline: November 15, 2007

Send your submission to rghentworldcarfree.net. Text can be in a TXT or DOC file. Images should be high-resolution (300-dpi) TIF or JPG files. Questions can be sent to Randall Ghent at the above e-mail address.

In addition to the cash prizes, the nine winners will each receive a one-year World Carfree Network membership. The winning designs will also featured in Carbusters magazine.

For more on carfree street conversions, see Lloyd Wright's Car-Free Development guide for municipalites, pp. 107-109 (PDF file requires Adobe Acrobat). Also see the REBAR website for information on transforming parking spaces into parks. REBAR has announced a call for parking space conversions to be implemented on Sept. 21.

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 This page was last updated 15 August 2007