>Register for the Competition



Not all winter cities are alike. Some have repeated months of below freezing temperatures and predictable snow accumulation, while others face high variability and frequent freeze/thaw cycles. The latter cities may experience 100 or more freeze/thaw cycles a year, creating unique challenges for public space use, outdoor event planning, roadway maintenance, and infrastructure design. The map below indicates the number of annual freeze/thaw cycles in various regions of the United States (source).


Unpredictable conditions in these high-cycle zones call into question the direct transfer of urban design and placemaking strategies from more consistent winter cities. If snow accumulation and freezing temperatures aren’t reliable winter conditions, how can these environments become more responsive to change—more adaptable?

COLDSCAPES //Adapt seeks submissions that creatively respond to the condition of high weather variability in winter cities. Entrants should provide an effective visual (and potentially aural, if using video) presentation of a built project or conceptual proposal that responds to the following design concerns:

  • How can the built environment quickly respond to changing weather conditions?
  • What design strategies can enable more adaptable buildings, public spaces, and urban infrastructure?
  • How can cities embrace and express indeterminacy, while maintaining a high quality of life for its residents?
  • What insights from winter cities can be applied to the challenges of increased variability and volatility caused by global climate change?



COLDSCAPES is a Call for Ideas that aims to provoke a critical assessment of idealized representations from warmer seasons and challenge designers to engage more creatively with the unique conditions presented by winter. The competition recognizes designers as cultural change agents, enabling cities to embrace their winter identities. The competition is organized by the Center for Outdoor Living Design (COLD), based at Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative.



Competition submissions may lie within the domain of a particular discipline (architecture, public art, landscape architecture, urban design) or cross over multiple disciplines. Entrants were encouraged to explore responses within a wide range of scales: city-scale urban form, mid-scale public spaces, or smaller street interventions. The competition does not specify a single site for submissions. Entrants are free to choose their own specific sites from around the world or submit proposed interventions that could be deployed in multiple geographic locations.



Each submission must include either 3 Images or 1 Video. Images must be 1200 pixels by 800 pixels, landscape orientation, in .JPG, .GIF, .PDF or .PNG format, with a maximum file size of 10 MB for each image. Video submissions must have a 16:9 aspect ratio and no more than 3 minutes in length. Videos must be submitted in .AVI, .MOV or .MP4 format and may be no larger than 100 MB.

Creators of winning submissions and honorable mentions will be asked to submit higher resolution versions of their projects. Please do not include the entrant’s name anywhere in the images or video—the submissions will be judged anonymously.





Three winning submissions will be selected for awards:

  • $500 First place
  • $300 Second place
  • $200 Third place

Up to 10 additional projects will be recognized for Honorable Mention. The winning entries, honorable mentions, and a broader selection of submissions will be added to the COLDSCAPES Archive.



Cara Fisher | PlannerAlta Planning + Design + Associate, Winter Cities Institute – Vancouver, Canada

Sergio Lopez-Piniero | Architect & Founder, Holes of Matter – Boston, MA

Brian Peters | FounderDesignLabWorkshop - Kent, OH

Liz Wreford Taylor | Principal Landscape ArchitectPlain Projects - Winnipeg, Canada

James Wheeler | Director of Education & Community Partnership, Public Design Exchange - Minneapolis, MN

Submissions will be judged on their Clarity, Originality, and Vision.



January 11, 2016 – Competition announced
February 12, 2016 – Registration deadline
February 19, 2016 – (6pm 11:59pm Eastern Standard Time) Submission deadline
February 20, 2016 – Winners announced



The entry fee is $10 per registrant. For team submissions with multiple individuals credited, only one registration fee is required.

Register for the 2016 COLDSCAPES //Adapt Competition here: http://coldscapes.submittable.com/submit



By entering the COLDSCAPES competition, entrants grant Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC) the right to exhibit the entries in an online archive, public posts, physical exhibition, print publication, and other media at its discretion. Copyrights for project submissions shall remain the property of the author.



This year’s COLDSCAPES Competition is made possible by the generous support from the Ohio Arts Council and Brite Winter.




COLDSCAPES: New Visions for Cold Weather Cities was a multi-disciplinary design competition, held in 2013, intended to reveal the often overlooked potential of cold climate cities. COLDSCAPES invited artists, architects, landscape architects, and urban designers to submit conceptual and built projects, of various scales, which reveal exciting opportunities for revitalizing cold climate urban places.

Learn more about the previous COLDSCAPES Competition here. The winning entries and a selection of additional entries in the 2013 COLDSCAPES Competition can be viewed in the ARCHIVE.