Friday, December 07, 2007

Call for Proposals: Open Up the Box Competition

Two Deadlines:
February 1, 2008 Expressions of interest
Febrary 28, 2008 Final Submissions

2007 Open Up the Box Competition

J Staal Storage Solutions
University of California Institute for Research in the Arts (UCIRA)
Interdisciplinary Humanities center, UC Santa Barbara
Office of Sustainability, UC Santa Barbara
Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Design and Facilities, UC Santa Barbara
Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara

Over a period of two months in 2006, the UC Institute for Research in the Arts demonstration project Open Container took place as part of a class taught jointly by Professors Kim Yasuda and Dick Hebdige of UC Santa Barbara. With a small budget for supplies and donated materials from local shipping company, J. Staal Storage Solutions, two shipping containers were transformed into a modular dwelling unit. A third container served as exhibition space for the proposed design prototypes. The course was a research and studio exploration of the transportable and residential mobility of container culture, with a focus on reuse and sustainability. UCIRA and J Staal Storage Solutions would like to open up opportunities for others to devise and execute equally dynamic and innovative research and design experiments. Engaging affordability and sustainability as themes for this inaugural competition, participants are asked to use two 20-foot shipping containers as the raw material to create attractive, functional and eco-friendly designs as possible solutions to the affordable housing question. The sponsors seek a building that will be mobile, functional and beautiful. Successful designs need to prove both cost and energy efficient as well as conform to current local zoning and building codes. This competition offers visibility and recognition to the winning proposal and a chance to see the project realized in three dimentions in a key location on the UC Santa Barbara campus.

The competition winner will receive a cash prize of $10,000 and two 20-foot shipping containers to be used toward the implementation of their design. The winning design should be producible for approximately $10,000, although teams may opt to produce a slightly more expensive version based on available match funding. The total cap for production costs for this competition is set at $20,000. Space in which to carry out the transformation of the containers may also be made available at the J Staal Storage Solutions facility in downtown Santa Barbara, provided the winning design team provides their own insurance and a release of liability to J Staal Enterprises, LLC for use of the space. Second and third place winners will receive $500 and $250 cash prizes respectively. Honorable mention award winners may also be named. If an agreement cannot be reached with the top-ranked designer, the sponsors may elect to negotiate with the next highest ranked contestant, but they are under no obligation to do so.

This is an international competition open to anyone with great design ideas. Enter alone or in a group. Collaborative and multi-disciplinary teams are encouraged ( i.e. a designer and an artist, a graphic designer and a student, a builder and a homemaker). Project teams are encouraged to include students as part of the team composition.

Site –
The proposed site for the demonstration project is a temporary location on the UCSB West Campus. The West Campus Gateway serves as a major entrance into campus and the adjacnt community of Isla Vista. The project will be sited on unpaved land near the existing Art Department studio facility, Cameron Hall. Due to the site conditions the project shall be self-leveling and self-contained. On site access to auxiliary power may be available for the showcase period of up to several years. In the event the West Campus site is not available, organizers reserve the right to locate the structure on an alternative site.

Program –
The project is intended to conform to either City of Santa Barbara or County of Santa Barbara secondary dwelling unit guidelines [also known as accessory units and granny flats] and should be designed as "habitable space." During the showcase period the completed structure will used as artist studio space.The sponsors are committed to fostering green building practices that include material reuse and renewable energy as primary goals of this project. Other requirements include:

  • the structure can be a standard or modified shipping container, or a mix of the two
  • final size of the structure may be up to 400 sf
  • when complete the structure must be transportable (i.e. maintain structural integrity)
  • use of recycled and recyclable materials is encouraged
  • use of materials made using sustainable processes is also a plus
  • while power and other utilities may be available at the installation site, applicants should strive to integrate a soft energy source (solar panel, solar battery, natural fluorescents) to power interior and/or exterior lighting or other technology (digital, video, sound, sensory). Similar considerations should be applied to water, heating and waste disposal needs
  • final design must be erectable by 2 - 4 people within a 48 hour time period
  • special consideration will also be given to designs that allow for modularity: i.e. that can either be assembled in various configurations or configured in multiples to expand the original design

Marc Fisher, Associate Vice Chancellor of Campus Planning, UC Santa Barbara
Brian Hofer, President, Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara
Jennifer Siegel, Office of Mobile Design
Jorgen Staal, President, J. Staal Storage Solutions and competition co-sponsor
John Peterson, Public Architecture/Peterson Architects
Kim Yasuda, Co-Director, UC Institute for Research in the Arts (competition co-sponsor)

Projects teams wishing to be considered for Open Up the Box 2007 are required to prepare and submit an initial Expression of Interest, using the forms (Download Here, Word Doc) by 5pm February 1, 2008 to the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts (UCIRA) at the following e-mail address: You may submit an additional one-page appendix, but please ensure that your total file size is under 2 MB.

1. One presentation board 30 inches by 40 inches in size, presenting a complete design concept responsive to the stated program and meeting the selection criteria. The presentation board must contain the entire design concept, including any and all graphic information. The board should be oriented vertically, with a horizontal dimension of 30 inches and a vertical dimension of 40 inches. Because this will be a "blind" competition, do not include firm or designer names, logos, or other identification on your presentation board except the participant ID number received upon registration.
2. Three dimensional scale models of proposals are encouraged
3. The presentation should include site plans in addition to unit plans, elevations, and perspectives the applicant chooses to illustrate the proposal. More information about the proposed site can be found at <
4. An electronic copy of the presentation board on a read-only CD. The electronic copy must be in JPG, TIF, or PDF file format, with a resolution of at least 600 dpi at an image size of 7.5 by 10.0 inches (one-quarter size).
5. A cover letter with contact information for the applicant, including a single individual contact name, firm name (if any), mailing address, telephone number, email address, and the assigned ID number should be placed in an envelope and taped to the back of the presentation board.
6. If desired, the applicant should submit a statement with additional information regarding buildability of the submitted concept. Such a statement might include assumptions about materials, or other information that could demonstrate how the proposed unit would be constructed within the available budget. If such a statement is furnished, please place it in an envelope marked "Additional Technical Information" and tape it to the back of the presentation board.
7. Final submissions must be received no later than 3:00 PM, February 28, 2008

UC Institute for Research in the Arts
6046 HSSB
University of California
Santa Barbara CA 93106-7115

No proposals will be accepted that are delivered after this time and date. Proposals will
be deemed delivered only when received at the exact address above.

Announcement of the Award will be in early Spring 2008. The winning entry will be announced by Jorgen Staal, president of J Staal Storage Solutions.

Questions about the competition selection process should be directed by email only to the competition advisor, at No telephone calls, please. Answers to questions received on or before February 20 will be posted on the competition website at

[dowload pdf of this call]