Guggenheim and Google announced the two winners of the Design It: Shelter Competition

On the 50th Anniversary of the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Guggenheim and Google announced the two winners of the Design It: Shelter Competition. This interactive, online competition asked participants to utilize Google SketchUp and Google Earth to create and submit designs for virtual 3-D shelters for a location of their choice anywhere on Earth. The Juried Prize, selected by a jury of architecture and design experts, was awarded to David Eltang of Aarhus, Denmark for his SeaShelter structure. The People’s Prize, determined by public voting among ten preselected finalists, was awarded to David Mares of Setúbal, Portugal for his CBS – Cork Block Shelter, which was the recipient of 64,875 votes of the more than 100,000 total votes submitted online by voters across the world. Prizes include airfare and two nights accommodation for two in New York City, behind-the-scenes tours of the Guggenheim Museum and Google offices, and Google SketchUp Pro licenses. The Juried Prize also includes a $1,000 cash award.


Design It: Shelter Competition received submissions from 68 countries, for a total of nearly 600 entries that met the competition requirements. Ten finalists were preselected by students from the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture for the People’s Prize, and votes were accepted through October 10. The jury who determined the Juried Prize from among all of the shelter entries consisted of Timothy Bade, Principal, Bade Stageberg Cox; Neil M. Denari, Principal, Neil M. Denari Architects; Cathleen McGuigan, Architecture Critic, Newsweek; Victor Sidy, Dean of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture; Lisa Strausfeld, Partner, Pentagram; Aidan Chopra, Product Evangelist, Google SketchUp; and David van der Leer, Assistant Curator of Architecture and Design at the Guggenheim.

Each competition entry consisted of a 100-square-foot structure in which to live and work, the shelter title, its geolocation in Google Earth, and a brief description of the shelter and its relationship to the natural and built environment, along with the designer’s name and place of origin. All of the final entries and top ten finalists, along with a video announcing the winners, may be viewed at

SeaShelter, winner of the Juried Prize, is situated on the coastline of Denmark’s Wadden Sea, a popular location for wet hikes during low tide. Its interior workspace and observation and resting platform offer an opportunity for those hiking along the sand to experience the seabed during shifting tides, and provides a habitat for local birds and seals. According to juror David van der Leer, Assistant Curator of Architecture and Design at the Guggenheim, “SeaShelter creates an opportunity to experience full high tide and interact with the environment in dramatic ways. Providing a refuge for passersby and wildlife alike, the shelter invites narrative and possesses a welcoming quality that the jury views as reflective of the spirit of the Design It competition.”

People’s Prize winner CBS – Cork Block Shelter is located at Vale de Barris, Portugal. The winning entry is a rectangular structure whose cork walls thermally protect the shelter in a microclimate that ranges from dry heat to damp cold. According to the project description posted by its designer David Mares, “the dynamic facade gives visual interaction when in living-studying mode; in rest-sleep mode it closes to provide privacy for its occupant.”

Design It: Shelter Competition was part of the educational programming offered in conjunction with Learning By Doing, an exhibition on view this summer at the Guggenheim Museum presented in tandem with the Frank Lloyd Wright retrospective Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward—that featured plans, photographs, and models of shelters built by students at Taliesin and Taliesin West, the Frank Lloyd Wright Schools of Architecture in Wisconsin and Arizona, over the past seven decades. The competition provided the opportunity for anyone in the world to create their own virtual shelter with Google Earth and Google’s 3-D modeling software SketchUp, while adhering to similar design parameters as Wright’s Taliesin architecture students. Frank Lloyd Wright will be on view at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao from October 22, 2009–February 14, 2009.

Guggenheim Museum