“Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women and men who leave or who are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more.”
-Pope Francis, World Day of Migrants and Refugees (2014)

We live in the Age of Migration where resettlement is a key factor in economic and political changes (Castles, 2022). The underlying causes are population growth, disparity between rich and poor countries, economic inequality, increased globalization, political instability (i.e., war), climate change, disease, etc.

Design Scenario

Location: Anywhere in the world
Time: Current day, or near future
Design Scope: Refugee environment
Maximum 50 square meters, volume at discretion of designer
Narrative explorations: Client/user group; Migration scenario

Conceptual Influences

Mental and physical survival resulting from migration. Develop a scenario by creating a journey map and user story for either a small group of refugees or a single refugee. Consider circumstances upon which these events may have occurred and weave this into the narrative. Think about including special populations (children, disabled, older adults) and pets or livestock.

Design from necessity. Based upon the narrative explorations you develop, consider materials and objects that would be found along the way, or in this place. Design with these native objects and materials in mind.


Create a temporary sheltered environment for refugee(s) to feel safe and psychologically sound using no more than 50 square meters.

Consider the following:

  1. Refugees may have suitcases or backpacks with personal items taken from their place of origin.
  2. Your design should provide a place for sleeping, eating, and security at minimum.
  3. Use found materials/objects that would likely be available at the location
  4. May rely upon DIY-level construction capabilities of the user(s).

back to top


Research topics relevant to current or near future refugee(s) in need of shelter as related to the narrative that your team creates (i.e., reasons for migration and refuge, regional site considerations, culture of the refugees, etc.). Evidence of research should be evident in the narratives, conceptual description, and design outcomes.


There are little to no established programmatic requirements for this project. Students determine design graphics and visual presentation within a single 24×48 poster. All stages of work including the creation of the poster file must be prepared within the timeframe of the competition.

All entries must be submitted using PDF file format demonstrating the team’s design. All types of diagrams, drawings, and renderings are up to student teams. Faculty are encouraged to provide critique and feedback to their students but all work is to be completed by students.

Within the poster your submission must include:

  • Design concept (maximum 100 words) supported by visuals.
  • Written narrative describing the refugee(s) and journey of the refugee(s) (maximum 350 words). The narrative should support all design decisions.
  • Visual representation of critical aspects of the refugee journey in context to the environment and created place of refuge.
  • Provide additional notations as needed to enhance visuals. No word count maximum, but notations should be ‘irreducibly complex’ in nature.

Each project must adhere to these requirements:

  • The file must be .pdf format and the file size must not exceed 100 Mb.
  • No student names are permitted anywhere within the presentation.

Judging Criteria

To be considered for judging in the IDEC Student Design Competition, all entries must abide by all the competition rules.

  • 35 points. Needfulness and creativity of overall design solution
  • 25 points. Specificity and creativity of the refugee narrative and journey
  • 20 points. Specificity of location and migration catalyst research
  • 20 points. Graphic composition of the poster presentation

All drawings, diagrams, and other visual items are expected to be executed to the highest level of craft. All writing must be free of spelling and grammar errors. Quotations or support images must be properly cited.

back to top


Entries may be completed either in the Fall 2022 or early Spring 2023 semester. All entries are due to IDEC for judging by Feb 3, 2023, 11:59 PM Pacific, in PDF format. Winning entries will be judged by IDEC volunteers and professionals. Winning entries will be announced at the IDEC Annual Conference in March 2023.

  • June 2022: Student competition is published on the IDEC website.
  • July 1 – February 3, 2023: Faculty sponsors may choose any one-week period during this time to facilitate the competition.  Faculty sponsors MUST determine the one week within the semester to execute the project.
  • November 1, 2022 – February 3, 2023: Submittal window is open online. Each program can submit up to 2 projects.
  • February – March 2023: Projects are juried. Winners and their respective faculty will be notified prior to 2023 IDEC Annual Conference
  • March 2023: Finalists are displayed at the 2023 IDEC Annual Conference and recognized, along with the respective faculty. Winners are announced at the Annual Conference.


First Place: $1,000; Second Place: $750; Third Place: $500

Honorable Mentions are awarded at the discretion of the jurors with no monetary award

  • In the case of a tie or limited entries in any categories, the final jury reserves the right to adjust awards accordingly.
  • Winning entries with more than one person will share equally in the prize money amount.

back to top

Competition Rules

  • Students may work individually or in a team of no more than four.
    • Teams can be cross-expertise including any level of development (first year through graduate in any combination) or teams could be homogenous in expertise (only sophomore, only graduate, etc.)
  • Students enrolled in undergraduate or graduate interior design programs that have at least one faculty that is a member of IDEC are eligible to enter. The supervising faculty will facilitate access to competition materials and updates via the IDEC website.
  • Projects must be supervised by a faculty member and completed in one week (7 days) including all changes, edits and revisions.
  • Submission of the project indicates the supervising faculty member and the IDEC member of the program comply with the competition rules.
  • Projects must be submitted with no student and/or program identification on the poster or in the file name.
  • A total up to two projects will be accepted from each University program.
  • Project information will be available on the IDEC website through Feb 3, 2023 and can only be accessed by a member of IDEC. A Q & A section will be available online with the competition information and will be updated through Jan 15, 2023. It is the responsibility of the supervising faculty to visit the Q & A postings frequently to stay updated on the competition project.
  • The IDEC member faculty sponsor will upload entries to the online submission portal by the deadline.
  • Entries that show an identification of school or student within the design layout or entries that do not comply with all competition requirements will be disqualified.
  • Faculty are encouraged to use this design challenge to aid in fulfilling their school’s learning objectives as well as those outlined in this competition.

Questions or inquiries should be directed to:


Stephen Castles, Hein de Hass, and Mark J. Miller. The Age of Migration: International Population Movements in the Modern World. 6th Edition. (New York: Guilford Publications, 2013)

Francis (August 5, 2013). Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2014. Migrants and Refugees: Towards a Better World. From the Vatican. Daily Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office.

Tasoulla Hadjiyanni, Ph.D. When You Can’t – Designing Supportive Housing for Refugees: