Shifts in demographics and lifestyles have redefined American households, but housing options have not kept pace. Smart technology, environmental sustainability, and demands for healthy living all require 21st-century solutions.

Making Room: Housing for a Changing America, an exhibition currently on view at the National Building Museum, focuses on the mismatch between the diversity of our households and the homogeneity of our housing. The exhibition explores new housing options offered at all levels of the market, including micro-units, tiny houses, accessory apartments, cohousing, and co-living.

The exhibition’s centerpiece, The Open House, features a hyper-efficient layout, movable walls, and multifunctional furniture. The flexible space addresses the needs of three prototypical households: roommates, a multi-generational family, and retirees looking to downsize. While The Open House is beautiful and impressive, it is not inexpensive.

The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Foundation, HomeAdvisor, and the National Building Museum are challenging students to create an affordable design solution for a retired couple, or a retired couple and caretaker, looking to remain in their 1,000 sq-ft home and age-in-place. The design should embrace the same goals of flexibility and seamless universal design incorporated in The Open House.

Applicants must be enrolled as an undergraduate student as of February 1, 2018. It will be important for entrants to visit the Making Room exhibition to get a feel and understanding of the space before creating their designs. For this reason, the competition is only open to students who attend colleges and universities in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia.

First ($2500), second ($1500), and third ($1000) place scholarships will be awarded to first, second, and third place designs, which will also be shared on a monitor within The Open House at the National Building Museum. Submissions will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. EST on April 13.

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