|Sample renderings of four of the finalists|
Eight teams were recognized today as finalists of the 2009 Open Architecture Challenge: Classroom . Finalists submitted designs ranging from an outdoor classroom for children in inner-city Chicago, learning spaces for the children of salt pan workers in India, safe spaces for youth in Bogota, Colombia and a bamboo classroom in the Himalayan mountains.
The 2009 Open Architecture Challenge was hosted by Architecture for Humanity and principal partner Orient Global in collaboration with a consortium of other partners around the world. This truly global initiative invited the architecture, design and engineering community to collaborate directly with students and teachers to rethink the classroom of the future. Designers entering the competition were given a simple mandate: collaborate with real students in real schools in their community to develop real solutions.
More than 1,000 design teams from 65 countries registered for the competition. Over a four-month submission period hundreds of ideas were generated around the world.
Each submission was rated on feasibility, sustainability, innovation in learning and overall design quality by a team of interdisciplinary online jurors. After three rounds of reviews, more than 400 designs were narrowed to a shortlist of 52. On July 2nd, 2009, an international panel of jurors reviewed the designs at the 2009 Aspen Ideas Festival and selected eight entries as finalists for the competition. In September one of these teams will be awarded US$ 5,000 and the selected partner school will receive up to US$50,000 to realize their design. The finalists are:
* The Blurred Classroom, Gensler, New York, NY, United States
* Teton Valley Community School, Section Eight Design, Victor, ID, United States
* Teksing Bamboo school, Petr Kostner, Sona Huberova and Martina Sobotkova, Czech Republic
* Classroom for the Salt Pan Community, Rajesh Kapoor, Prashant Solanky, Bharat Karamchandani and Kiran Vaghela, Gujurat, India
* A Sustainable Community Classroom for Uganda, Chris Soley, Farah Naz, Hayley Maxwell, Edward Crammond and Jessica Robinson of Gifford LLC, United Kingdom
* Extending the Classroom, Built Form Architecture, Northwestern University Settlement House, Chicago, IL, United States
* Justified Architecture in a Landscape of Transition, Architectura Justa, Bogota, Colombia
* Adaptable Hillside Classrooms, Andrew Macintosh, Matthew Brown, Nilufer Kocabas of Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and Buro Happold, United Kingdom
The need for safe, sustainable, smart classroom design has never been greater. Worldwide, 776 million people are illiterate. With less than six years left to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals, the World Bank estimates ten million new classrooms are needed to reach its target equal access to primary education. In addition, tens of millions of crumbling facilities-including many in the United States-are in urgent need of upgrading. Meeting this need for classroom space will constitute the largest building project the world has ever undertaken. The world will need to spend in excess of US$ 100 billion just to meet current demand for classrooms.
Serving as a catalyst to build safe, sustainable and smart educational facilities around the world, the 2009 Open Architecture Challenge has created an online portfolio of design solutions, all licensed under Creative Commons and viewable at www.openarchitecturenetwork.org . School districts, independent schools and social entrepreneurs from around the world can now download, adapt and replicate these ideas in their current and future learning environments. Beyond the awarded funds, three building partners, Rumi Schools of Excellence in India, Building Tomorrow in Uganda and Blazer Industries with The Modular Building Institute in the United States have committed to build classrooms based on selected designs. An international traveling exhibition is set to launch in the fall.
To see all the entries and for more information, please visit: http://www.openarchitecturechallenge.org 
Principal Partner: Orient Global
About Orient Global
Orient Global is a private investment group based in Singapore and founded by New Zealand-born entrepreneur Richard Chandler. Orient's goal is to be the world's best capital allocator in financial and social markets. Orient Global Capital is an entrepreneurial, value-oriented portfolio investor which focuses on emerging markets and economies in transition. Orient Global Development combines business and philanthropic approaches to address the root causes of poverty. For more information, please visit: www.orientglobal.com 
About Architecture for Humanity
The Open Architecture Network (www.openarchitecturenetwork.org ) and the Open Architecture Challenge are programs of Architecture for Humanity, a 501(c)3 charitable organization that seeks architectural solutions to humanitarian crisis and brings design services to communities in need. To date the organization has provided shelter for more than 700,000 individuals in 31 countries. For more information, please visit: www.architectureforhumanity.org