University competition for sustainable urban life

Ideas for the future design and configuration of cities are being sought for a new competition promoting greater sustainability in urban environments.

Dust to Dust: Redesigning Urban Life in Healthy Soils is an urban design ideas competition in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals which include zero hunger, clean water and sanitation, responsible consumption and production, and climate action.

Currently 98% of cultivable land on earth is being farmed and two thirds of the world’s soils are suffering degradation. The continued encroachment onto, and transformation of, soils resulting from urban sprawl will significantly impact the sustainability and resilience of urban life.

As such, ideas are invited for urban designs, planning approaches, and tangible interventions that could be implemented in real-life cases of urban planning and development with successful designs promoting a close relationship between urban life and soil ecosystem services.

From the ideas received the best will be invited to a charrette (an intensive design workshop) held at the Prince’s Foundation, London on 16-18 July 2018. Selected teams will be invited to work with the researchers who are organising the competition and the curating team.

The aim is to exhibit the best ideas at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia to inform and inspire greater sustainability in the future development of cities as well as how we lead urban lives.

Organiser Dr Benjamin Vis, who is an expert in urban geography in the Classical & Archaeological Studies department in the School of European Culture and Languages (SECL), said they look forward to receiving ideas ‘outside the box’.

The competition arises from Dr Vis’s work on ancient Maya urban landscapes as a Research Fellow in Digital Humanities and Digital Heritage for the Eastern Academic Research Consortium (Eastern ARC).

To compete for a place, teams should apply by developing and submitting outline ideas by 23:59 GMT on Wednesday 9th May 2018.

For more information about the competition, and to submit outline ideas, please visit the Dust to Dust website: or for more information, contact

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