Commons Shelter Challenge: design|vote|build a design competition for a commons shelter

The purpose of the Commons Shelter Challenge is to explore ways to collectively and participatively design, build and/or engage with a shelter at The Commons. The Christchurch public, in collaboration with selection panel, will choose which of the designs gets built.

Gap Filler aims to create public dialogue about different ways in which public space and public infrastructure can have a high level of community involvement, and can actively help build community and generate shared spaces that a wide range of people use.

Gap Filler would like to invite you to make a submission for the design for The Commons Shelter, via competition, based on the following brief:

Proposal for Brief

The Commons Shelter

  1. Must be relocatable.
  2. Will provide adequate space and shelter for 10-30 people in the event of rain.
  3. Must be built within a materials budget of $20,000
  4. Does not require security due to high fire risk, likelihood of vandalism, etc.
  5. Can be built by a mixed team of professionals, skilled labour and volunteers.
  6. Contestants (as either teams, representatives of the team, or individuals) will have the opportunity, if desired, to participate in the build process
  7. The Shelter must have a minimum all-weather life of 2 years, although it may be deconstructed or moved earlier than that.


Primary criteria for consideration

  • Community-Building and the creation of Communal Space: Entries should explain how their proposal will help build community. This could be achieved by a clever design, an interactive structure, a participatory design process, a collaborative construction process, something else we haven’t thought of – or a combination of all of them.
  • Resourcefulness: Consideration must be given to the origin of the materials and their ultimate destination.
  • Constructability: While we do not require full construction drawings, entrants should include information on the constructability of their proposal.


Entries will be accepted from individuals or teams from within greater Christchurch.

  1. by a team of 5 within two days with a Hi-ab (or similar)
  2. teams are welcome to source and include additional materials themselves.
  3. assembled teams may have members from outside of Christchurch, however, the majority of the team must be from within greater Christchurch.

30th October:

Submissions Close. In the interests of objectivity Contestants must submit their design concept anonymously on a maximum of 4 A3 colour pages (including scale drawings; elevations and sections; by hardcopy and .pdf). The designs will be evaluated and a short-list created by a panel of experts including (for instance) food truck operators, neighbouring businesses and residents, a Quantity Surveyor, and project sponsors Placemakers Antigua Street, and Aurecon. The panel reserves the right to eliminate entries at this stage if they are deemed impossible to build, or beyond the allocated budget.

Successful entrants will be invited to participate in a conversation about their entries that will have the opportunity to influence the selection of their design for the short-list; designers of shortlisted entries will receive a koha of $250 for their design contributions at this stage.

8th November:

Short-listed entries will be opened to the public for a voting period of two weeks. The public will be invited to vote on their preferred choice based on both the design brief and values.

16th November:

Contestants will be required to defend their design proposals at a public forum, having the opportunity to explain and justify their designs

24th November:

Voting ends.

25th November:

Winner announced.

It is intended that the winning design is then moved through consent to be built onsite at The Commons by volunteers with completion date set for late January.

Gap Filler will manage the procurement of materials, fundraising and sponsorship, consent, sourcing of volunteers and in-kind professional services and delivery of The Commons Shelter as a completed project.