Annual theme


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City of Zagreb
City Office for Physical Planning, Construction, Communal Affairs and Traffic


Faculty of Architecture
University of Zagreb


City Acupuncture


Oris - House of Architecture




City of Zagreb
City Office for Culture, Education and Sport


Republic of Croatia
Ministry of Culture



[geopolitical, ecological, urban and moral scenarios]


We live in an exponentially globalizing world where the development of multiple systems and networks of exchange [of capital, information, goods, people] is producing a variety of challenges but also of opportunities for invention. However, while these new systems have provided new scenarios and conditions, there has not been a reevaluation of the architectural project and the spatial and social implications that these new paradigms entail.


In order to establish an overarching line of inquiry that highlights the concerns of contemporary society and simultaneously allows for different degrees of exploration this competition goes back to the conceptual space for the establishment of difference: the border.
In the space of the border, architecture intersects with dilemmas of flow, control, identity and belonging. The scale of such dilemmas range from geopolitical to liminal spaces.  But as lines of division between political, social, ecological or moral borders, borders are also subtle and ubiquitous protagonists in the poetics of daily life absorbing the desires that exist in the margins of legality and the possible.
The theme Borders operates simultaneously as a space of projection but also of denunciation and identification of local conditions in political, social and ecological realms within a global context.


Our growing collective consciousness is a product of global understandings fueled and informed by local desires. However, local desires are being transformed by expanding and colonizing international protocols, values and strategies. To bring together in a global scale multiple local possibilities that address similar issues aims to produce a guide to thinking and doing that provides a set of alternative tools for architectural projection beyond dominant discourses.


While the nature of the competitions is totally speculative, the projects are addressed to architects in the quest for newness in formal, typological and programmatic terms but also to politicians, policy makers, environmentalists, anthropologist or philosophers in the need for a larger and simultaneously precise understanding of how do we want, or could, live together.


Architecture often is framed within formats of problem solving. Architectural solutions, however, are materializations of ideas past, of questions that belong to ideologically established conditions. The possibility of architecture to shape the future resides in its ability not to find solutions but in its ability to create and construct problems yet to be imagined.
The four competitions developed under the theme of Borders, aim to produce a catalog of contemporary conditions in social, political and cultural spheres in need of architectural alternatives.


“Border politics construct border architectures and new border architectures construct new border politics.”

In contemporary politics there are two major discourses around borders: dissolution and reinforcement. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall or the Shengen Agreement, the dissolution of borders, especially in Europe, has been one of the ideological cornerstones of the neoliberal capitalist world in a process of homogenization in cultural, social and economical realms. In a parallel manner, the proliferation of global technologies of communication and exchange in the virtual realm, have produced a similar effect in social and cultural terms to the dissolution of physical borders. On the opposite site, however, borders reinforcing separation have emerged throughout the world as in the Israel-Palestine or the Mexico-US border. Within these two scenarios, the architectural border project constructs a third condition that proposes a new political, programmatic and spatial paradigm that transcends the initial dichotomy and that presents a rearticulation of the world beyond colonized territories of sameness or stagnating lines of division.
The territorial character of these charged lines or zones of passage transforms the scale of the architectural project into an infrastructural site of speculation.
Geopolitical Borders asks for submissions that reflect on existing geopolitical borders around the globe and propose alternatives to the existing conditions of social, political and economic conflicts through architectural interventions.

“Pollution should be seen as the next oil, or the next water. The lenses that allow to see Pollution so black or so blue are called pragmatic optimism or imagination.”

The contemporary concern with notions of pollution and contamination are the result of a blurring of the edges between different ecologies that traditionally remained in a state of isolation. Pollution could be defined as a state of exchange against preconceived or idealized states of containment. Ecological Borders asks for proposals that reinvent moments of pollution or ecological exchange and transforms them into spaces of production through an understanding of the border conditions between current states of pollution and desired states of isolation envisioning all parts of the border as equally powerful for social, economic and biological innovation.

“Holistic clouds will not only end the alienating division between life-leisure-work but will transform all peripheries into centers. “

Central peripheries and peripheral centralities are existing conditions within contemporary understandings of the city. New systems of mobility, communication and capital management have produced a multiplicity of states of centrality and isolation in social and spatial terms beyond nineteenth century ideas of center and periphery or production-work-leisure-living. Urban Borders asks for submissions that are able to bring together different notions of centrality and periphery into play and problematize existing living conditions within urban scenarios.

“A free architecture is not the one that eliminates all handicaps but one that makes us all one”

Architectural programs and typologies are immediate translations of cultural, social and political understandings. Spaces that problematize existing moral orders go beyond preexisting programmatic and typological constructions towards a moment of reinvention. Moral Borders asks for architectural proposals that produce a new programmatic and typological object for formal, politic and moral reinvention.


Urban Borders: Shohei Shigematsu
Geopolitical Borders: Teddy Cruz
Ecological Borders: Francois Roche
Moral Borders: Hrvoje Njiric



Eva Franch i Gilabert is a Catalan architect, researcher, and teacher, founder of the Barcelona based OOAA (office of architectural affairs) and Director of Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York.
Franch’s work draws on sensorial archeologies of cultural, political, social, technological and formal realms in addressing spaces of collectivity and public action. Her research in architecture focuses in ideological, cultural and formal disruptions through “architectural doubts” in three operative fields: utopias (historic-politic), metaphors (cognitive-formal) and atmospheres (material-experiential). Her most recent work,  Ecologies of Excess, proposes a shift within contemporary architectural discourses and practices from sustainability and measure towards madness and invention.
Franch  has studied at TU Delft, at ETS Arquitectura Barcelona where she received her Master in Architecture with Honors in 2003 and at Princeton University where she received the Suzanne Kolarik Underwood Prize and her M.Arch II degree in 2007. Franch’s work has been exhibited at the Center for Architecture in New York, Korean Institute of Architects in Daegu, FAD Barcelona, NAI Rotterdam and Shenzen Biennale of Architecture, among others. Selected publications include “Ecologies of Excess” in AD (2010), “Architects, citizens of the world, DOUBT!” (2008), “Terminal B. Barcelona Creative Database” (2008), “CityThemeCity” and “Content_A” in Pidgin (2006-7), “Dementia” in Postboks (2004), “Pause Pavillion” in Pasajes (2004), “Generative metaphors” in Sources of Architectural Form (2007), and “R.E.D. studies” in Imagined Spaces (2007).  Awarded the Howard Crosby Butler Traveling Fellowship (2006) by Princeton University, Franch also received the La Caixa (2005-2007) full fellowship in residence for postgraduate studies, the Incubadora del FAD prize for emerging architects (2007), a Pasajes-iGuzzini prize and a Dragados Foundation prize.
Franch has taught at the University of Buffalo as the Peter Reyner Banham Fellow [07-08] and at Rice University [08-10] as the Wortham Fellow acting as the Master Thesis Design Studio Director. Franch has taught the "Ecologies of Excess" and "Atmospheres of utopia" studios and the theory seminars: "Performing Representations", "Utopia as Doubt", "On Banality-On Metaphor" and "Syn-City: a political sensorium".