The Challenge

Will you be ready when the next earthquake strikes Seattle? To help promote earthquake awareness and readiness, Architects Without Borders-Seattle is hosting an open design competition to change the way we think about earthquake preparedness in the Puget Sound area. AWB-Seattle challenges you to propose a potentially life-saving tool, method, system, or product to help our neighbors and community members get ready for the “big one.”


According to “The Really Big One” published in The New Yorker in July 2015, the Cascadia Subduction Zone, spanning from Northern California to Southern Canada, has a 1 in 3 chance of a big earthquake (8.6 magnitude) and a 1 in 10 chance of a very big earthquake (9.2 magnitude) in the next 50 years. 

In preparation for a severe earthquake hitting the Seattle area, city, state, and federal agencies have provided agencies and communities in our region with a number of resources. However, there is still a staggering portion of the population that is unaware or unprepared for the predicted “really big one.” According to a 2012 National FEMA Survey, only half of respondents have some form of emergency supplies and less than onethirdupdate those supplies on an annual basis. In this same survey, nearly two-thirds of respondents chose the incorrect action for protecting themselves in the event of an earthquake.


Now is the time to change the way we think about earthquake preparedness as a community. This competition will focus on generating informed, creative, and meaningful design solutions that address the general public’s level of preparedness. We are seeking a variety of ideas that can better equip our community to withstand a severe earthquake, not a single, one-size-fits-all solution. Entries can focus on one or more of the scales below:

  • House/Individual
  • Neighborhood
  • City/Region
  • Judges will evaluate each proposal with the following criteria in mind (see below for more information):
  • Effectiveness
  • Adoption/Implementation
  • Equity/Accessibility
  • Creativity

All entries will be displayed at the 2016 Seattle Design Festival Block Party in Occidental Park. Whatever the solution - a brochure, app, product design, architectural or urban intervention - it needs to be explained in a clear and concise format.


Registration Deadline: August 15th, 2016
Submission Deadline: September 1st, 2016 at 12 PM
Winners Announced: September 10th, 2016
Exhibit: Saturday and Sunday, September 10th and 11th, 2016

Criteria for Judges

  • Effectiveness - Is the proposal effective in preparing the general public for an earthquake in the
  • Puget Sound region? Does the proposal bridge a gap or fill a missing piece in the existing earthquake
  • preparedness process or infrastructure?
  • Adoption/Implementation - How easily can the proposal be implemented and adopted by the general
  • public?
  • Equity/Accessibility - Is the proposal accessible to all members of the community, regardless of spoken
  • language, physical or mental ability, gender, race, ethnicity, or socio-economic status?
  • Creativity - Does the proposal change the way the general public thinks about earthquake
  • preparedness in the Puget Sound? Does the proposal have a “wow” factor?


All entries will be presented in an exhibit as part of the Seattle Design Festival 2016 Block Party in Occidental Park on September 10th and 11th. Judging will take place during the exhibit. Teams will be asked to provide a digital submission with an optional physical prototype, depending on the nature of the proposal. Please see “Submission Requirements” for more details.
Judges to be announced.

Submission Requirements

Email the following items (or a link to a shared folder) to [email protected] by 12 PM on September 1st, 2016.

  1. A completed Entry Form (attached to this document) - PDF Format
  2. One 24” x 36” summary board (portrait format) including photographs, diagrams, drawings, or any other visual aid to comprehensively illustrate the merits of the proposal. Boards must include a project description of 250 words or less explaining the design goals and decisions. - 24” x 36” PDF Format
  3. Visual aids are highly encouraged. If applicable, provide assembly instructions formatted to letter size paper (this can be a pamphlet, booklet, or one-page diagram). If a built prototype is being submitted, please include itemized list of materials and components used in assembly - 8 ½” x 11” PDF Format
  4. Images of your design process and final proposal - 5 photos minimum, no maximum - JPG (Min resolution of 1600 x 1200 pixels is recommended)


In addition to prizes for the competition winners, participants will have the opportunity to:

  • further earthquake preparedness in the Puget Sound
  • foster teamwork amongst co-workers, peers, and friends
  • push the boundaries of design and think outside of the box
  • market their participation in developing a life-changing design solution

To Enter

Please register online no later than August 15th, 2016.

Entry Fees

Large Team/Business (> 40 People): $250
Medium Team/Business (11 - 40 people) $100
Small Team/Business (2 - 10 People): $50
Individual: $25
University Team: Free
Community Group: Free*
Under 18: Free
All entry fees support Architects Without Borders - Seattle, a local non-profit organization that provides ecologically sensitive and culturally appropriate design assistance to communities in need.
*Please contact us at [email protected] to discuss your group’s qualification as a “Community



Questions may be emailed to [email protected].

Terms & Conditions

By entering materials in the Ready to Rumble Competition, participants grant Architects Without Borders- Seattle permission and a non-exclusive license to use all materials and copyrighted work submitted for inclusion in the Ready to Rumble Competition.

All material received by the organizers becomes their property, including reproduction rights, and will not be returned. The intellectual property rights in each project remain the exclusive property of the author(s) of the project.

With designer credit, all entries will be open sourced online and the winners will be highlighted through promotion of the competition results and future outreach.

View the flyer