About CBDX

CBDX — City Building Design Experiments and Exhibitions — is an initiative by the University of Calgary’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape. The goals of CBDX are to collectively tackle the big issues of tomorrow as a design community, initiate change, foster new ideas, and showcase innovation — the future of city building. CBDX explores two topics annually through an international design ideas competition, resulting in bi-annual exhibitions and an annual publication.

CBDX was conceived in Summer 2020 as a proposed solution to the pandemic and the need to move exhibitions into an online or hybrid format. Building on the visibility and success of YES 2020's online edition, which reached over 4000 individuals across five continents, the notion for an international ideas competition was born.


The School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape (SAPL) at the University of Calgary has launched its second international design ideas competition, asking: How can designers intervene in borders?

Borders are spaces of transition. Whether political and imposed through human agency, or natural and made manifest through geographical features, borders are associated with civilization’s greatest challenges. How we choose to choreograph and intersect these transitional spaces will reveal much about our priorities.

The competition asks entrants to consider the opportunities, challenges, and complexities latent within borders and propose new paradigms. Participants can choose any type of border, define a friction that presents a programmatic opportunity, and propose a design that impacts the agents (human or otherwise) that are affected, influenced, or in proximity to that border.

View news release, March 23 2021 →

Request Entry ID

Registration for CBDX: BORDERLANDS is open until June 21, 2021.

Step 1: Request an Entry ID below. This will be the unique identifier for your submission. This is an automated process to assign you a multi-digit number.

Step 2: Register for the competition (remember to use the same email used to request an Entry ID). Have your Entry ID available. Register here →

Step 3: To submit more than one submission, repeat steps 1 and 2.

Confronted with an unprecedented number of calamities and injustices, we need to reconsider how design can challenge the nature of borders and participate in their reconsideration. We have a responsibility to understand and shepherd positive future change that questions and potentially bridges these lines of division. We’re pleased with the ideas generated from our previous competition, CITIES FOR ALL, which speculated on new approaches for equitable, diverse and inclusive cities; we challenge everyone — including designers, planners, policy-makers, humanitarians and social scientists — to respond to the global condition of borderlands.

Dr. John L. Brown, PhD, Dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape


Brewing Flower Power: An Ice Teaporium Celebrating Women’s Rights, London, United Kingdom

Diana Guo (Canada), Tian Wei Li (Canada), Joanne Li (China)

The first CBDX competition invited participants to reimagine inclusive, equitable ‘City for All’.

The theme for the first competition — equity, diversity and inclusion — was determined in response to the global Black Lives Matters movement reignited by the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. CITIES FOR ALL also respond to the University of Calgary’s new draft strategy, UNSTOPPABLE: Growth Through Focus, and SAPL's grand challenge themes.

CBDX: CITIES FOR ALL, asked entrants to submit design proposals for places, structures, things, systems, processes or relationships that increase inclusion, belonging, and well-being for a group who is typically underrepresented or undervalued in the prevailing design discourse. The competition all, released in October 2020, sparked international discussion around equitable, inclusive cities. 

Organized in teams of one to five, 405 people from around the world participated. The competition elicited 145 submissions from 108 cities representing 26 different countries. Winning entries were announced at virtual panel event on February 10, 2021. 

More than 300 people from across the world gathered virtually via Zoom to hear the jury speak about the competition entries. Nicola Johnson, marketing specialist with SAPL, reports on the winning entries and some the most interesting design proposals →

Cities—which often ossify systemic inequities through the built environment—have become the fulcrum upon which movements for equity and justice have found increasing leverage. Solutions must come from, and be for, everyone. This competition provides a platform to highlight how architects and designers might address underrepresented and marginalized voices.

Alberto de Salvatierra, Assistant Professor, inaugural faculty lead and CBDX chair

2050 LAGOS: Amphibious City, Lagos, Nigeria

Gi chul Choe (South Korea), Joanne Li (China)

How might matters of equity and activism, ecology and environment, and health and wellness converge, and unfold, within our future cities?

The 145 design proposals addressed a wide range of themes, like Social Housing, COVID-19, Social Justice, Sustainability, Isolation and Food Security, confirming that no matter where in the world they were located, people were grappling with similar challenges.

Top entries — three winners, 15 honourable mentions and 26 finalists — are being exhibited virtually at cbdxcitiesforall.com and in downtown Calgary at SAPL’s City Building Design Lab and City Hall until the end of April 2021. Entries will also be published in the inaugural annual volume later this year.

Read the competition winners announcement, Feb 10, 2021 → 

Process, not Product, Washington DC, USA

Mattie Wong (USA)

The climate crisis and social inequality have converged against the backdrop of a pandemic, prompting us to rethink the way cities are being designed, built and operated. It is an opportunity for architects, planners, landscape architects, and other creative practitioners and students to imagine how we can make our futures better for everyone. The ideas generated from this competition offer a glimpse into how a city for all might look, how it might operate, and how it might come into being.

Dean John Brown, SAPL

The CBDX Series is made possible through the generous support of Stantec.

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