The Eighteenth Annual Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectural Design Excellence 2016
Berkeley Prize 2016

Stage 2: Semifinalists

We are happy to announce that students from 19 countries submitted Proposals for the 2016 BERKELY PRIZE Essay competition.  From these submittals, 25 authors have been advanced to the Semifinalist round (Stage Two) of this year’s competition. 

Semifinalists are now invited to submit a 2500-word Essay based on their 500-word Proposal.   At least five, but up to seven, top Essays will be selected for final judging by this year’s BERKELEY PRIZE Jury.

All authors, whether promoted to Semifinalist status or not, can login to view the Readers’ comments regarding your Proposals. 

New instructions for this year’s Semifinalists are included below.

Semifinalist Winners

Samia Aboni 

 Bangladesh University of Engineering 
 and Technology


Amarinder Arora


 School of Planning and Architecture,  Bhopal


Nadia Asali

 Birzeit University

   Palestinian    Territory,      Occupied

Riddhi Batra and Anant Mital

 School of Planning and Architecture,  New Delhi


Atianna Cordova 

 Louisiana State University A&M  College


Julian Daly and Rebecca Sherouse

 University of California, Berkeley

Sukruti Gupta and Nipun Prabhakar  School of Planning and Architecture


Meghana Hegde

 Dr. Bhanuben Nanavati College of  Architecture


Rashi Jain and Anand Upadhayay

 Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University


Mojdeh Kamali

 University of Azad 


Ayushman Kedia

 School of Planning and Architecture 


Asif Emran Khan

 Shahjalal University of Science  and Technology


Jyoti Kiran and Durga Prasad Gupta

 School of Planning and Architecture,  Bhopal


Carrie Lin

 University of Southern California


Devin MacCracken and Anubhuti Jain

 Montana State University


Sourabh Maheshwari

 Manipal School of Architecture and  Planning


Keziah Malcolm


 M. S. Ramaiah Institute of  Technology


Christine Matua


 Makerere University, Kampala



Zahra Mosaddegh Akrami and Ali Tabatabaei Ghomi

 Art University of Tehran


Gabrielle Pearce

 Louisiana State University


Vitoria Ribeiro and Andreia Pavoni

 Estacio de Sá University


Vaibhav Saxena

 Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra,  Ranchi


Salwa Tambe


 L.S. Raheja School Of Architecture


Manasa Vinodkumar

VishnuPriya Viswanathan 

 Acharya's NRV School of Architecture

  Manipal University









































General Information 

We compliment all of the Semifinalists on the extraordinary diversity of ideas and approaches in response to this year’s Question. Such responses indicate the depth of interest in and concern for the social art of architecture.

In Stage Two, you are to expand upon your chosen topic in 2,500 words. The BERKELEY PRIZE Committee encourages Semifinalists to improve the crafting of their ideas. A few suggestions as to how you can make your Essay more effective for both professional and non-professional readers:

  • Before you begin to write the 2,500 word essay, it is essential that you carefully consider the Readers' comments about your Proposal. These comments are meant to help you write a winning essay. Please read your reviewer comments in your Author Portfolio.
  • An essay is different from a Proposal.  Your Proposal was selected because the Committee believed that it was a good outline that had the potential to be developed into an even better essay on the social art of architecture.  You want to do more – much more - than simply re-state your argument.  Explore and expand your ideas, the reasons for them, and the conclusions you have reached because of them.  Substantiate these thoughts with specific examples.
  • In answering the Question, the BERKELEY PRIZE Committee is particularly interested in responses that speak to the general public. If social architecture is to become the norm, rather then the exception, the public must be persuaded of the value of design that reflects human worth. If social ideas are to be realized, rather then simply discussed, the public must be persuaded that there is added value to initiating your idea as opposed to doing nothing. This means selecting a voice that is both your own, and one that is accessible to both serious readers and those who read only the "lead" points.
  • Ask a friend to read your essay before submitting it. Better yet, show it to two friends: one, a fellow architecture student; the second, a person not familiar with the discipline or profession. Use their input to revise your draft. If you can prevail on them, ask them to read your revised draft.  Ask them how your argument can be made clearer – it always can be.


We ask that you include four (4) digital photographs of images that help describe the content of your essay.  Two of these photos can be the images you already posted with your Proposal, but it needs to be re-posted.  The photographs should be no larger then 1 MB, and be in .jpeg format.  No more then four photographs will be accepted.  You can use a digital camera, a film camera (and scan the printed image), or even capture the image on a cell phone and transfer it to your document.  There is space provided at the end of the submittal form to upload the images.  Space is also provided to number and caption each image.  

In selecting these four images, imagine that a publisher or editor of an online blog, or a newspaper, or a magazine have accepted your essay for publication.  One of their requirements is that you supply four illustrations that help describe and explain the points made in your essay.  What illustrations would you submit that not only provided the basic information about your topic, but also help further your written arguments?  As part of this process, refer to these illustrations at the appropriate spots within your essay.

Remember, however, one of the primary purposes of the essay format is to test your skill in describing a situation in words, rather then pictures or drawings.  Do not assume that just because you have posted the photographs that your responsibility to carefully describe in words your selected topic is reduced.  To the contrary: use the illustrations to support and strengthen your writing.

Improving Your Writing

You have almost six weeks to produce your essay in final form.  Use as much of this time as possible to attempt to actively improve your writing abilities, particularly if English is not your first language.  Read some good prose written in English, especially essays, whether from the field of architecture or from other disciplines.  In architecture, search for articles written by architectural journalists and popular architectural historians who write for a general audience online, in newspapers, and in widely circulated magazines. Think about how they present arguments and describe buildings and places.  Use websites, such as to improve your English vocabulary, syntax, and spelling.

Avoid the use of professional language unfamiliar to many of your intended readers, except where absolutely necessary.  Above all, avoid jargon.  In describing your subject matter you might want to use this assist:  Imagine that you are describing the situation and setting to a person who is blind.  How would you describe the details of what is and what you think there should be to them?  

Whether or not English is your first, second, or fifth language, again, do not hesitate to review your essay with an experienced English language-speaker and writer.  Use their suggestions as how to make your argument as clear, precise, and interesting as possible.  


Proposals due anytime before midnight, GMT, February 1, 2016

Additional Help and Information

Are you in need of assistance? Please email
A one-room home, shelter for a migrant worker in Beijing, China. Photo by Jose Guerrero, 2014.
Makeshift shelters assembled migrant workers made from found materials, Beijing, China. Photo by Jose Guerrero, 2014.
Adaptive re-use of a storage container being offered as shelter on a nightly basis at the rate of 1USD per night in Shanghai, China. Photo by Tony Lin, 2014.
Park benches serve as “home” for those without shelter, each of whom neatly stack their belongings beneath their chosen spot in Hong Kong. Photo by Benjamin Clavan, 2015.
Abandoned shipping containers located near the waterfront (and one of the city’s refuse dumps) are commandeered by those without shelter who have transformed the steel boxes into living units, complete with pirated electricity in Shanghai, China. Photo by Benjamin Clavan, 2015.
Detail of the Shanghai, China shipping container shelters. Here, the resident(s) have even created a small outdoor garden area by laying down a piece of found indoor/outdoor carpet to create a small area of “grass”. Photo by Benjamin Clavan, 2015.
Those without shelter live on the streets as best they can: on this day, trying their best to avoid being soaked by the frequent rain in Shanghai, China while they continue to beg for money. Photo by Benjamin Clavan, 2015.
The Shanghai, China home for this double-amputee is a cart, pulled by his companion. The slots underneath are stuffed with the two men’s belongings. They survive by begging. Photo by Benjamin Clavan, Shanghai, 2015.
An obviously educated man creates a home for himself in the exterior foyer of an abandoned building in Valencia, Spain. Photo by Benjamin Clavan, 2015.
Urban Caterpillar Design for Rough Sleepers, London, UK, designed by Amy Brazier.
The interior of a standard issue UNHCR tent. Many families live in tents like these for years. Photo by Christopher Herring.
'The Right 2 Dream Too' encampment in the heart of Downtown Portland, Oregon, USA serves as a safe space for the city's homeless in a city where camping and sleeping outdoors is largely illegal. Photo by Christopher Herring.
Homeless men and women sleeping on mats or bunked beds lined on floors of schools, gyms, and churches as at the First United Church Mission in Vancouver, Canada. Photo by Christopher Herring.
A woman and child walk on the paved road of Killis Camp in Turkey. Photo by Christopher Herring.
La Casa Supportive Housing Project in Washington DC, USA (Left) seeks to change the pattern of homelessness through design with a central location and on-site services. Designed by Studio Twenty Seven Architecture and Leo A Daly for the Department of Human Services. Photo by Christopher Herring.
A project of Micro Homes Solutions, New Delhi, India. Photo by Christopher Herring.
A homeless camp in Portland, Oregon, USA. Photo by Christopher Herring.
A sidewalk shelter for pavement dwellers in Chennai, India.
Concrete spikes under a bridge in Guangzhou City, China. Photo by Christopher Herring.
Cynthia proudly sits outside the makeshift home she has constructed on the sidewalk in Fresno, California, a US city with over 3,000 homeless people and less than 300 shelter beds. Photo by Christopher Herring.
A Homeless Encampment situated in Fresno, California, USA. Encampments under highway overpasses are common in the US, not only for the structural protection from the elements, but because highway property is not part of city jurisdictions and can avoid the frequent evictions of police faced by those on other public property. Photo by Christopher Herring.
A makeshift encampment of a group of homeless people in Fresno, California, USA. The residents bordered their encampment with a homeless memorial with cardboard gravestones with the names of those who passed away on the streets marked by artificial flowers – an expression of both the dignity and resilience of this community and sad reminder of the perils faced by those without shelter. Photo by Christopher Herring.
A Homeless Encampment situated in Fresno, California, USA. As in many US cities, such encampments are criminalized in the downtown core, but concentrated and tolerated in the industrialized outskirts. Photo by Christopher Herring.
Tents: A temporary homeless encampment on the sidewalk bordering the campus of the Los Angeles City College in Los Angeles, U.S.A. The City College is a community institution that provides a stepping stone to full-degree programs at other colleges and universities. Inside the fence, 20,000 mainly low- and lower-income students pursue their dreams of a better life . Outside the fence, the main preoccupation is to find a place to sleep. Photograph by Benjamin Clavan, 2015.
PATH Villas Osage Apartments is a 20-unit affordable housing development that consists of eight one-bedroom, six two-bedroom, and six three-bedroom units. To foster and enhance an uplifting community spirit between families and the PATH counselors the development features a central landscaped courtyard, a community room and a children’s play area that is observable from all units.
PATH Villas Osage Apartments is a 20-unit affordable housing development that consists of eight one-bedroom, six two-bedroom, and six three-bedroom units. To foster and enhance an uplifting community spirit between families and the PATH counselors the development features a central landscaped courtyard, a community room and a children’s play area that is observable from all units.
Woman with cart: A homeless woman in Los Angeles, U.S.A. arranges her meager belongings before looking for a place to sleep for the night. Photograph by Benjamin Clavan, 2015.
FLEEING EN MASSE: Migrants from Syria sleep along the walls of a 14th-century fortress in Kos, Greece. (WIN MCNAMEE/GETTY IMAGES/WALL STREET JOURNAL AUG. 2015 FRONT PAGE).
'Home.' City center, Sao Paolo, Brazil, 2014. Photo by Benjamin Clavan.
Even in Norway, with very visible government attention and programs, there are an estimated 6200 people with no place to live. Here, in the capital city of Oslo, at the steps of the Parliament Building on the busy avenue connecting the town center with the Royal Palace, a homeless woman tries to sleep and collect a few coins. (Photo by Benjamin Clavan, 2015)
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