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RIBA reveals longlist for Rethink: 2025 international design competition

The judging panel – made up of six design leaders and radical thinkers – selected 32 proposals, from almost 150 entries, to progress to the next stage of the competition.

09 July 2020

The RIBA has announced the longlist for Rethink: 2025 - an international design competition for our post-pandemic world.

Rethink: 2025 invited architects and students from around the world to consider what our buildings, streets and communities might look in 2025. How will the pandemic have modified the way humans interact with space and one another, and how can design mitigate its worst effects?

Entrants submitted ideas tackling the seven following areas: healthcare spaces, high density living, public transport, high streets vs online shopping, remote learning, international travel and the use of technology to monitor and control populations.

The judging panel – made up of six design leaders and radical thinkers, chaired by RIBA Journal Editor, Hugh Pearman – selected 32 proposals, from almost 150 entries, to progress to the next stage of the competition. The longlisted ideas range in scale from addressing details of healthcare provision and transport design to radically reconsidering the design and use of our streets and cities – whether that be repurposing existing buildings or designing new building types and technologies. Issues addressed range from social inequality to virus disinfection, education provision, food production, air pollution, working from home, individual and collective remembrance and improvements to rural communal life.

Hugh Pearman, Editor of RIBA Journal and Chair of the Judging Panel said: “The ingenuity and ideas demonstrated across different issues on the longlist - from health through new building types to streets and neighbourhoods – breeds an optimism about how we reset after the coronavirus pandemic.”

The Rethink: 2025 longlisted entries have been organised into three categories: Body, Buildings and Communities.


Childbirth Made Personal, Sarah Joyce, University of Leeds

Designs are people/tech-driven in this new era. The maternity policy goals of 2020 are achieved through personalized “maternity bubbles” – buildings and spaces organised around pregnant women.

Separation without Barriers to Learning, Emma Tincombe

Designs for a positive, personalised classroom experience. Individuals choose their own level of physical separation whilst remaining engaged in social and learning activities.

Blue Tile, Ahmad Yakout

Blue Tile is an interlocking tile system placed strategically at building gates and pathways. It contains a built-in mechanism to spray disinfectant/vaccine mist upwards when stepped on.

Safer Buses, GTM-a

Each bus compartment at street level has its own access and can accommodate between one and four people, standing or seated, with luggage, prams, wheelchair, children, or bicycle. Both levels are open to the outside air and divided physically, but not visually, by screens.

World Sanitation Box, George Stoneham, University of Creative Arts

The World Health Sanitation Box is a network of compact stations utilising UVC light to disinfect people on the go, creating a healthier world for tomorrow.


Markthalle, Sophie Judson

Markthalle breaks down socio-economic and health related barriers created by the pandemic, providing local residents with a space to socialise while supporting local businesses.

Pop-up Teaching for Outdoor Learning, Curl La Tourelle Head Architecture

Temporary low-cost emergency schools using recycled festival marquees, to provide outdoor learning opportunities.

Hyper-Emotional Society, Hon Yen Chong and Chen-Yong Tan

The pandemic has caused an evolution towards a hyper-emotional society as we re-evaluate life priorities to become less driven by financial motivations but more by personal emotion and interests. This proposal is to transform the way we work through a work joining project app, micro home labs and forums.

Green Catalyst, Kamvari Architects

Public realm, small scale food production and high density homes come together in a high rise design. These towers are built up from prefabricated timber cubes. Courtyard plans create pleasant airy open space.

Spiral Bike Store, Fatkin Ltd

The spiral bike store provides a fun and efficient solution to secure cycle storage.

House Farm - Peru, Kenyi Sulca, Universidad Nacional de Ingenieria

A new experience for life at home through a new space – a timber framed home extension with two functions: producing vegetables for family consumption and a place for recreation. Design-a-Shed, Kilshaw and Partners

This fictional company specialises in responsive garden office design with an integrated hydrogen fuel cell - an optimum solution in a de-urbanised future.

Street Support Hub, Axis Design Architects

A neighbourhood common room for teaching, entertaining and socialising, with energy generating capacity. All in the area of one car parking space. This infrastructure scales down energy and social services, while scaling up the spatial boundaries of the private home.

Far Off is Close at Hand, Haslam & Co Architects

Reworking of a shop as a home. Four critical aspects of living in the city through the lens of a new urban house design: a perch on the street, a nest to withdraw, creating space for the ritual of washing at the threshold and the creation of a ‘bar of exchange’ as boundary between home and street.

Window Living, Alice Vivoda, Patricia Schleeh, Eva Setz Kengen and Mark Kengen, The University of Edinburgh

An interactive window retrofitted to existing buildings to transform into a balcony or sitting place allowing closer interactions with neighbours and nature.

Institute of Making Homes, Monty Dobney

A radical solution to drive innovative, collaborative and community involved research into the design, manufacture and construction of homes.

Podding the City, The Good Thing

Homes will be places for more activities, for healing, working, learning; flexible and elastic living spaces where we will spend most of our time. Lightweight 'spods' can be attached to extend existing homes.

Get Everyone In, Benjamin Holland, Oliva Dolan, Katie Williams, University of Liverpool

Design for the reuse of empty offices to house the homeless. Working from home is now the new norm. Office towers are empty… Here’s how government funds can help the vulnerable in society survive and thrive.

Living in Hope, Rachel Moberly, Will Allen, Steve McDougall and Reuben Reid, University of Bath

The mass production of bespoke high-quality homes at low cost using a mobile app and AI to ensure the home works for the user while being based a consistent grid and structure.


The Thread and Blanket, Studio McLeod

Simple objects in the street and home to help remember the pandemic and build back better. Ranging from intimate artefacts to public memorial, The Blanket, Thread, Lamp and Streetlight would be catalysts which continue to harness the power of 'symbols' to connect, unite and strengthen communities.

Re-invention of the Mid Twentieth Century Estates, Yvonne Dean Architecture

Reimagining the suburban street with ventilation towers and green roofs to bring nature and food production home.

Streets are Made for Walking, PeopleMatter.

Rethinking how space along our streets can better serve the communities who neighbour them with new ways of interacting between traffic and people. The cross section shows one such speculation in London.

Community Retrofit, Farrells

Empty department stores and half-used office spaces retrofitted to combat loneliness by reinventing the high street toward sustainable, localised communities in the heart of our towns and cities.

Reclaiming our Streets, Assael Architecture

A blueprint for a community-led, grassroots intervention to reclaim the streets we live on.

Eco-Archi Post Covid, Mark Bonshek, Khan Bonshek

This comic explores the impact of air pollution upon COVID-19 transmission and the disproportionate affects upon BAME communities living in the inner-suburbs of our cities.

Post Pandemic Exchange, Elle Thompson, University of Nottingham

The City’s Garden Streets: Designs for a cleaner, greener, more attractive inner city, promoting sustainable societal choices, rendering that infrequent trip to the office a worthwhile healing experience.

Village City, Stephen Macbean

A development model that creates a hub of essential facilities in walking distance from a cluster of villages. This reaffirms the strengths of localism, providing economic and community cohesion, with considerable environmental benefits. It may be in need as people move out of cities post-pandemic.

Greater London Agriculture, Tim Rodber and Dominic Walker

A city region masterplan to encourage fresh ways of growing and eating in cities, divesting from industrialised food systems, letting global biodiversity flourish, and – almost incidentally – reducing chances of future pandemics.

Pedestrian Friendly Streets, Gabriel Fox, University of Bath

COVID-19 has provided us with the perfect opportunity to rethink urban design so that pedestrians and cyclists are put above motorists. This proposes three tiers of streets: pedestrian streets, cycle streets and regular streets.

Leafrow, Highly Creative Minds

COVID-19 or not 2025 will present a different world: environmental preservation will be key with lifestyles changing accordingly. Redundant planes could be made in all sorts of community spaces, re-energising green spaces but with targeted recycling that makes this ‘plane’-sailing.

A Catalogue of Regeneration, Andrew Jackson

Elements for the regeneration of homes to address issues of health, density, sustainability and the physical implications of the COVID-19 fallout in a phased, economical manner designed to help the most vulnerable in society. Improvements will be made to roads and pavements, facades and street furniture.

Home Front 2025, Sung and Ivan TL Chan

An urban vision of interventions and activities which encourages the full participation of the public in addressing the global fear of pandemic. Submission in the form of a comic book.

The Rethink: 2025 shortlist will be revealed on Tuesday 14 July, with the commendations and winners announced on Monday 27 July.


Notes to editors:

  1. Press contact: Isabel Campbell 020 7496 8349
  2. Images can be downloaded here.
  3. For further competition information, visit:
  4. The competition judging panel: Francine Houben (Creative Director and Founding Partner at Mecanoo), Matt Jones (Principal Designer at Google AI and RIBA Trustee), Sarah Castle (Director and Co-Founder at IF_DO), Ed Clark (Director of Structural Engineering at Arup), Asif Khan (founder, Asif Khan), Joanne Averley (London Mayor Design Advocate and incoming Chief Planner at MHCLG) and was chaired by RIBA Journal Editor Hugh Pearman.
  5. The first prize (£5000) of this competition is sponsored by Arup.
  6. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a global professional membership body that serves its members and society in order to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment. Follow @RIBA on Twitter for regular updates.

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