The Annual International Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectural Design Excellence 2019
Berkeley Prize 2019
Architecture and Climate Resilience
Click on photograph for details.

Blocked drains, Almora, India, 2017. Highlighting the problem of waste management and a potential threat in case of excessive rainfall. Photo credit: Neelakshi Joshi

The Bullitt Center, Seattle, USA., 2013. The Bullitt Center is one of the greenest commercial buildings in the world.  It is also the first urban infill projects to pursue and to receive a "Living Building" certification from the Interational Living Future Institute. The roof "prow" allows for an extended array of photovoltaic panels allowing the building to produce more electricity then it uses. Architect: Miller Hull. Photo credit: Brad Kahn (;

The Bullitt Center, Seattle, USA. Designed to have a 250-year lifespan, the building was also constucted without the use of common toxic building materials. It was the first mass timber building constructed in Seattle in 80 years.  Photo credit: Brad Kahn (;

The Bullitt Center, Seattle, USA. The rooftop solar panel array. The building also features an onsite rainwater-to-potable water system, an onsite composting toilet system, and 26 geothermal wells extending 120 m (400 feet) into he ground that help heat the building in the winter and cool it in summer.  Photo credit: Brad Kahn (;

Soso House, Leh, India. Designed and built by: Sonam Wangchuck and Neelakshi Joshi, 2016. Combining local earth and solar resources to address housing needs in a cold desert region. Photo credit: Neelakshi Joshi.

Flux.Land is a geospatial risk and planning platform developed for Broward County, Florida by the University of Toronto's Daniels Faculty + MIT Urban Risk Lab. The Platform helps visualize various distinct elements of the built and natural environment, land use code and policy, in relation to climate risk and vulnerabilities. Image courtesy of Fadi Masoud.  (

Flux.Land, Broward County, Florida, USA. "Our goal is to design and develop a web-based tool for Broward County to understand the potential adaptability of the urban fabric to manage the dynamic hydrological condition in the face of increased vulnerability due to climate change."  Image courtesy of Fadi Masoud. (

Housing Project, Auroville, India.  Building designed and built by: Auroville Earth Institute, 2012. A 17-unit housing project built using compressed earth blocks. An example of low cost and low carbon footprint housing. Photo credit: Neelakshi Joshi

The Floating Village, Kompong Khleang, Cambodia. This village is a striking example of vernacular flood adaptation, and potentially a model for low-lying areas where climate change is resulting in increased flooding. Photo credit: Yohann Legrand. (

The Floating Village, Kompong Khleang, Cambodia. This fishing village sits on the Tonle Sap Lake that historically rises as much as five-fold during the rainy season. Houses are built both on stilts and as floating habitats. Photo credit: Yohann Legrand. (

Old City of Shibam, Yemen. This 16th century city of towers in the Wadi is an outstanding example of density and natural climate control. The city is on the United Nations World Heritage Danger List. Built of mud and located in a flood prone area, the city "remains at severe risk of major damage unless necessary preventive measures are taken...[involving] the conservation and use of Shibam oases, which are considered as the buffer zone of the property." Photo credit: Will De Freitas. (

Old City of Shibam, Yemen. From the World Heritage listing: "Abandonment of the old agricultural flood management system in the wadi, the overloading of the traditional sanitary systems by the introduction of modern water supply combined with inadequate drainage, together with changes in the livestock management have all contributed to the decay of the city." Photo credit: Twiga_Swala

Water Tank, Rweru Green Village, Rwanda, 2016. Rwanda's Green Fund invested in Rweru Green Village by providing water tanks, including this one which is connected to mains water to serve the community in times of drought. Photo Credit: Rwanda Green. (

Boston’s Resiliency Districts, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. The Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism at MIT introduced a working concept of “resilient districts” for urban areas that are vulnerable to climate impacts. Resilient Districts include four central tenets 1) protecting critical infrastructure, 2) thickening regional soft systems, 3) transferring density to less vulnerable areas, and 4) encouraging landscape-based land uses in low laying areas. Image courtesy of Fadi Masoud. (

Shallow Dome Residence, Kalyani (near Kolkata), India. Designed by: Laurent Fournier. This is a unique example where a formal architectural project has incorporated incredible innovations taking place outside the professional world to help improve environmental performance of formal construction industry. "Shallow dome roofing" developed by informal masons from a village in northern India have made it possible to reduce use of steel and cement in building construction lowering its carbon footprint. Photo credit: Avikal Somvanshi

Rainwater tank, Jalna, India.  Designed by and built by: Neelakshi Joshi, 2018. Preparing for water variability by enabling houses to be water sufficient. Photo credit: Neelakshi Joshi.

Ladder House, Auroville, India. Designed and built by: Avikal Somvanshi and Manu Gopalan, 2012. A fast-track eco-friendly dis-mountable housing prototype that can be used to provide semi-temporary housing post-natural disaster in tropical regions. Built by unskilled volunteers using bamboo ladders, coconut-coir ropes and recycled tetrapak sheets on a retired tracker-trolley the structure has been use since. Photo credit: Avikal Somvanshi.

Bing Image Search: "Climate resilient architecture"

Hunnarshala Foundation Office, Bhuj, Gujarat, India. Designed and built by: Sandeep Virmani and Kiran Vaghela. The campus is living laboratory of innovation and experiments with traditional building techniques and modern lifestyle requirements. The campus is splattered with examples how age-old construction practices can be brought to speed and help address the resource and resilience issues especially in rural areas. Photo credit: Avikal Somvanshi.

Understanding community perceptions and preparations for a variable climate, 2017. Fieldwork conducted in emergent urban settlements of the Himalayas. Photo credit: Neelakshi Joshi.

Google Image Search: "Architecture and climate resistant buildings"

Condominium 1 at the Sea Ranch, California, USA. Designed by: Donlyn Lyndon,. A wind-protected courtyard. Photo credit: Donlyn Lyndon.

The Bowsprit House at the Sea Ranch, CA, USA.  Designed by: Donlyn Lyndon FAIA, with Tomas Frank and Associates, Architects.  Wind-sheltered courtyard with tower to gather light into the rooms of the house from all directions, and shading for south facing windows in the living spaces.  Photo credit: Donlyn Lyndon.

Flickr Image Search: "Climate resilient architecture"

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About the Prize

The BERKELEY PRIZE Competition was established in 1998, made possible by a generous gift of JUDITH LEE STRONACH to the Department of Architecture in the College of Environmental Design at the University of California, Berkeley, U.S.A.

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The BERKELEY PRIZE strives to show architects-in-training that the smallest act of building has global implications: that design can and does play a major role in the social, cultural, and psychological life of both the individual and society at large.

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2019 Essay Prize Competition

Each year, the PRIZE Committee selects a topic critical to the discussion of the social art of architecture and poses a Question based on that topic. Full-time undergraduate students enrolled in any architecture degree program or majoring in architecture throughout the world (or teams of two students, one of whom may be from another discipline) are invited to submit a 500-word Essay proposal responding to the Question.

2019 Essay Prize Jury and Committee
Fadi Masoud Youssef Nassef Avikal Somvanshi Susan Ubbelohde

Also, see the profiles of the 65 committee members from around the world who select the semi-finalists and finalists, and who present the top essays to the jury.

2019 Travel Fellowship Competition

Students: If you become a semifinalist in the Essay competition, you have the opportunity through the TRAVEL FELLOWSHIP to propose visiting a foreign locale for a hands-on research experience tied to the subject of your Essay.

2018 Essay Prize Competition Winning Essays
Wandisile Kona: "A Cathartic Architectural Language in a Democratic South Africa."

...The buildings under consideration for this year's [2018] Question, The Women's Jail by Kate Otten Architects and the Hector Pieterson Museum by Mashabane Rose Architects are buildings that have exemplified architectural resilience in South Africa over the past decade, particularly in celebrating the fight against oppression in the post-apartheid South Africa.

The buildings come into existence during a paradigm shift in the South African landscape; after the fall of the apartheid regime. So the emergence of the buildings in the new South Africa primarily deals with the redressing of their brutal political and architectural history. The social art of architecture, in this case, is the alteration of spatial meaning respectively. However in architecture, the meaning of space is never defined...

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See all Winning Essays »

2018 Travel Fellowship Competition Winners
Sneha Varghese: SPAIN AND LESOTHO, SUMMER 2018

...On 19th July, I left from Barcelona (the first leg of my Travel Fellowship) and began my 19-hour journey to Lesotho to participate in the Rise International in-loco built workshop. The in-loco program is a "learning-by-doing" experience meant for local and international architecture and construction graduates to improve their skills by aiding in the construction of an extension for the God's Love Orphanage in Maseru.

To the uninitiated, the African continent represents a bleak picture: provincial people, dry landscapes, arcane beliefs, poverty and disease. A place that's needs fixing. Most people feel impelled by altruistic responsibility towards it; a responsibility that sometimes arises from an intrinsic presumption of their superior human condition...

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  • The Berkeley Prize for the 2023-2024 academic year has been suspended.

The Social Art of Architecture in Print

John Cary, a long-serving BERKELEY PRIZE Committee Member, is a connector, writer, speaker, and curator focused on social change, with an emphasis on design and philanthropy. His new book, Design for Good: A New Era of Architecture for Everyone, is dedicated to two social activists: Courtney E. Martin and Raymond Lifchez, Founder and Chair of the BERKELEY PRIZE, "who has dedicated his life to the social art of architecture."

See John's TED talk, "How architecture can create dignity for all"
See also, "Design for Good" - John Cary on CreativeMornings HQ

Berkeley Prize News

May 01, 2023

Berkeley Prize 2023 winners are announced! See details about the Essay Prize Winners and the Travel Fellows. Thanks to all who participated!

December 22, 2022

Food for thought: STIR rounds up five architectural projects that displayed commitment towards community upliftment and helped reinvent a social identity.

October 01, 2022

Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2022 puts the spotlight on community and culture. Read or listen to the report here.

September 15, 2022


September 14, 2022

Meet Ushna Raees, the newest member of the Berkeley Prize Committee.

Ushna is a practicing Architect/ Designer based in Karachi, Pakistan and currently working for ‘arcop’ one of the most renowned firms in the country. During the course of her stint with ‘arcop’, Ushna has worked as Project Architect on several complex projects undertaken by AKDN (Aga Khan Development Network) and AKESP (Aga Khan Education Service, Pakistan) in the Northern Areas which is a diverse terrain from cultural, social and geographical aspects. The projects comprise four Schools and an IT Park. She has assisted and been part of the team on the projects including a five star hotel (Serena) in Gilgit & Hunza, Office buildings (HBL Plaza, HBL Clifton, HBL Swing space), Emaar Mosque, Emaar village Islamabad, TCF vocational center, The Indus Hospital, Surjani Town Karachi, Panu Orchards Mansehra, Aga Khan Center etc.

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