San Francisco is one of the trendiest and most-popular cities in the United States, which also happens to make it one of the most expensive cities in the world. Home of Silicon Valley, San Francisco has become the go-to city for tech companies within the US, and with countless tech employees flocking to the area with sizeable paychecks, it’s not hard to see why the prices in the Bay Area have skyrocketed in the previous decades.

Add to this the strict zoning laws within the city limits and the greater Bay Area, San Francisco has seen an ever-increasing gap between the supply and demand for housing. Zumper, a platform that tracks national rents, recently recorded the highest ever median rent for a one-bedroom apartment. At $3,700 per month, San Francisco is now officially the most expensive city in the country.

San Francisco County, California's estimated population is 879,166 with a growth rate of 0.73% in the past year according to the most recent United States census data
The San Francisco Affordable Housing Challenge is the latest in the Buildner Affordable Housing competition series. In partnership with ARCHHIVE BOOKS, this affordable housing challenge is tasking participants with conceiving a solution to the city by the bay’s housing crisis.

There are no specific requirements for this competition, and so participants are encouraged to be as creative as possible with their proposed solutions. Project designs should be flexible, enabling them to accommodate different inhabitants and their varying requirements. e.g. families, single professionals, couples, etc.

The jury will also be looking for designs that challenge typical ideas of housing, design, and the community as a whole, while at the same time incorporating a practical element that could see these projects offering a real, valid solution to the city’s affordable housing crisis.

Selected winning designs will not only receive prize money, but will also be featured in the next ARCHHIVE BOOKS publication on the topic of affordable housing, scheduled for publication in Winter 2020.

At $3,700 per month average rent per one-bedroom apartment, San Francisco is now officially the most expensive city in the US, as a result California now have some of the highest rates of homelessness in the country
Competition Programme:

Design a pilot-phase concept for affordable housing within San Francisco, which can be easily rolled out to increase capacity of housing stock, and is minimal in its use of land and materials.

No minimum size or amount of residential units per block is defined. The proposals should be flexible and adaptable enough to adopt to different sizes for various inhabitant capacity requirements. Designs for the San Francisco Affordable Housing Challenge should be able to adapt to various locations across the city.  

Missed the registration deadline?

Enter the next Buildner Affordable Housing Challenge (

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