Program Statement

The SHIFT Architecture Challenge is a new Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) program created to highlight the distinct contribution architects and architectural thinking bring to addressing key societal issues.

The program invites Ontario architects and their collaborative teams to respond to an identified area of concern using their skills and insights. It will run biennially, beginning with the SHIFT 2019 Infrastructure/Architecture Challenge.

Program Intent

In a world facing increasingly urgent and complex challenges—climate change, forced migration, poverty, an aging population and beyond—the need for responsible, innovative and inspiring architectural solutions has never been greater.

Architects are ideally suited to propose creative solutions. The OAA challenges the profession to further enhance the public’s perception of architecture as a force that acts as a catalyst for positive social change.

The SHIFT Architecture Challenge will recognize those architects, both emerging and established, whose responses to the challenge best embody these qualities.

The Challenge

  • articulates the importance of architectural thinking as a social determinant that impacts the well-being of people and the planet;
  • enables the architectural profession to be viewed by the public in a new light; and
  • reflects the capacity for design thinking to permeate all aspects of life.

Program Cycle

The SHIFT Architecture Challenge will operate on a two-year cycle, running in “odd years” as of 2019 (i.e. 2019, 2021, 2023, 2025…). Each edition of the program will have a specific theme.

Benefits and Recognition

With the goal of increasing public dialogue, the SHIFT 2019 Infrastructure/Architecture Challenge program will focus on opportunities throughout the year to engage, expand and excite! Those submissions selected by the jury will form the basis for a broader conversation on the issue promoted by the OAA, including a book publication, media outreach and an exhibition that makes its debut at the 2019 OAA Annual Conference in Quebec City this May.


A travelling exhibit will be created. Opportunities throughout the province will be considered for their ability to reach a specific audience, partner with existing events and capitalize on like-minded issues and concerns within communities.

The exhibit will be launched in May 2019 at the OAA Annual Conference, which will be held in Quebec City.


Both online tools and in-person opportunities focused on public engagement, feedback and discussion will be assessed to present the ideas and the originators to a public audience.


Selections from the SHIFT Architectural Challenge will appear in a print publication intended for broad public distribution (including libraries, architecture schools and government outlets). This book will also serve as a compendium piece to the travelling exhibit. A digital version of the publication will be available online.

Media Relations + Public Awareness

The OAA and its media relations consultant has embarked on a campaign of increased awareness and public interaction related on the SHIFT Architecture Challenge’s infrastructure theme. As the program’s submissions are selected, opportunities for media interviews, blogs and publications will be assessed, as will targeting specific audiences and engaging in social community issues where the SHIFT ideas are applicable.

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