ROOH Challenge

Roof Over Our HeadS


A Crucible for Change

Roof Over Our Heads


A Crucible for Change

Roof Over Our HeadS


A Crucible for Change

Are you passionate about urban resilience and ready to showcase your creativity to shape the future of informal communities?

Welcome to the Roof Over Our Heads (ROOH) Challenge! The Challenge invites undergraduate, postgraduate, and PhD students pursuing studies in design, architecture, planning, engineering, social sciences, and humanities to register and participate in this challenge.

Roof Over Our heads is a global campaign that seeks to create resilient homes by empowering women’s collectives and their vulnerable communities. Our initiative focuses on equipping these groups to assess and mitigate the vulnerability of their homes to extreme weather, with the support of designers, contractors, material providers, finance experts, city officials, and mayors.

We invite young university students to take up this challenge and explore their potential role in developing innovative solutions to enhance the weather resilience of informal homes. This is a unique opportunity to address the issues faced by vulnerable neighbourhoods, particularly in the Global South, where homes are often built informally, with limited resources and despite these challenges, they design construct and finance their homes with what they know.

In Phase 1, ROOH Labs has successfully documented 17 informal settlements across nine cities in India, covering five different climate zones. We’re calling upon participants to craft an incremental upgrade or retrofitting solution for a dwelling unit in an informal settlement located in one of five cities across different climate zones. Your task is to tailor your design to meet the needs of a specific family and location, leveraging detailed climate and contextual data provided from Phase 1 documentation of the ROOH Labs. Your challenge is to select one of the five challenge components from the documentation and analysis our team has conducted and use your knowledge to create recommendations for resilient homes capable of withstanding extreme weather conditions like heat, wind, and water.

Your solution should incorporate enhanced construction techniques using locally available materials or propose alternative building materials that are affordable, accessible, adaptable, and community-approved. The aim of the design is to enhance resilience, sustainability, and liveability within the selected context.

The challenge is entirely VIRTUAL.


  • No entrance fee.
  • Open to local and international students from all countries.
  • Exclusively for students from various academic backgrounds: Architecture, Design, Planning, Engineering, Social Science, Humanitarian, and Development Studies (undergraduate, postgraduate, or PhD).
  • Participate individually or in groups (max 10 members)
  • Inter- university and Inter- disciplinary collaboration are encouraged irrespective of your affiliations. 
  • Each participant may compete either as an individual or as a member of one group only throughout the challenge.
  • Proof of student status is essential to be eligible
  • Multiple entries are not permitted.
  • Practicing professionals are not eligible to participate.

Aim of the Challenge

To transform hypothetical and theoretical ideas into tangible solutions for communities living in informal settlements in India across climatic zones, with a special focus on amplifying the voices of women within these communities and addressing their needs. 

Objective of the Challenge

  • Foster Multidisciplinary Collaboration – Unite students from Architecture, Engineering, Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences to create comprehensive housing solutions.
  • Develop Practical Solutions – Design context-specific housing that addresses Heat, Wind, and Rain challenges in informal settlements with a focus on climate resilience and affordability.
  • Bridge Theory and Practice – Turn theoretical knowledge into practical designs that benefit vulnerable urban communities and enhance climate resilience.
  • Integrate Local Knowledge – Use local techniques and knowledge from the ROOH team’s research in India to ensure sustainable and effective housing interventions.
  • Empower Women and Artisans – Highlight and empower the role of women, artisans, and skilled laborers in community development through targeted housing upgrades.

Outcome of the Challenge

The winning design will serve as a practical blueprint for resilient housing solutions tailored to the unique challenges of different climate zones, empowering local communities and fostering sustainable development.

Up for the Challenge?

  • Confirmation email with Unique Identification Number (UID) will be sent post registration.
  • To download the brochure Click Here
  • For any assistance write to

Challenge Components

The design challenge invites participants to create sustainable and resilient housing solutions tailored for specific climate zones in India. These solutions must address the multifaceted challenges faced by households, including extreme heat, cyclonic winds, floods, fire hazards, electrocution risks, and other intrinsic and extrinsic threats to vulnerable informal dwellers. The proposed materials should not only be suitable for the designated climate zones but also demonstrate robustness against local hazards. Affordability, safety, and security of the community are paramount, ensuring that the solutions can be made accessible for all residents.

ROOH Labs are documented in 17 informal settlements across nine Indian cities in five climate zones. Participants, whether individuals or groups, have the exciting opportunity to select any one of India’s distinct climate zones (Hot Dry, Warm Humid, Cold, Temperate) and craft tailored solutions addressing the specific challenges encountered by the household in that zone.

  1. Hot Dry: Surat City, Gujarat
  2. Warm Humid: Bhubaneshwar City, Odisha
  3. Warm Humid: Paradeep City, Odisha
  4. Temperate: Bengaluru City, Karnataka
  5. Cold: Gangtok City, Sikkim

After registering for the challenge, participants will receive a Google Drive link sent to their registered email address. If you are part of a group, the link will be sent to the Group Captain’s email address. This link provides access to five city folders, each containing detailed information about dwelling units. Participants can review these folders and select one dwelling unit for the challenge.

Delve into the data (Challenge Components) provided by the ROOH Team, each folder will include

  1. A PowerPoint presentation with background information and details about the informal settlement and dwelling units, Photos, Information on issues, challenges, coping mechanisms and details about materials currently used for construction by the resident of the dwelling unit.
  2. A SketchUp file with a 3D model (.skp version: 2018)
  3. An AutoCAD file with plans and sections (.dwg version 2019)

Focus on a specific dwelling unit and its settlement from the data provided. Utilize this information to gain insights into the context, challenges, aspirations, and material choices of the dwelling unit. Here’s how you can engage with the data:

  • Analyse 3D models, plans, sections, and photos provided by the ROOH Team.
  • Dive into documentation and analysis to understand the nuances of the chosen dwelling unit.
  • Gain insights into historical context, challenges faced, aspirations of residents, and material preferences.

These resources will assist participants in proposing their solutions and shall be used for ROOH Challenge purposes only.

Design Guidelines

For each dwelling unit, the following components need to be addressed… Read More

Here's what you need to include in your proposal

Participants submitting proposed solutions for one dwelling unit among the 5 climate zones and cities should include … Read More

Submission Guidelines and Checklist

Participants are required to submit the final deliverable… Read More


US $5000

US $3000

US $2000

  • Selected entries will have the opportunity to collaborate with global partners in the ROOH campaign and engage with international organizations active in the climate landscape.
  • Winning entries will be showcased at COP 29 in Baku during the Roof Over Our Heads (ROOH) Session, with the winners receiving official acknowledgment.
  • All award-winning entries will be showcased on our website online for at least one year.
  • All participants will receive a certificate of participation.


Gonzalo Muñoz

UN Climate Change High-Level Champion from the COP25 Presidency

David Dodman

General Director, Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS)

David Howlett

Head of Policy, Global Resilience Partnership and Senior Adviser to Race to Resilience and Race to Zero and Loss and Damage Lead

Sheela Patel

Founding Director of SPARC
Global Ambassador for Race to Resilience and Race to Zero

Nigel Tonks

Sustainable Development Board Director, Arup and a Sr. Adviser to the UNFCCC Climate Champions Built Environment Team

Hubert Trammer

Architect and a Member of the Roundtable of the New European Bauhaus.

Lauren Anderson

Director of Programs, Perry World House, UPenn


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Have questions about the challenge? Check out the FAQs’ section for more information! Click Here

 For Participation Agreement, Terms and Conditions Click Here


The Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centers (SPARC) has been working on issues of urban housing and infrastructure in partnership with two community-based organizations- the National Slum Dwellers Federation and Mahila Milan. Together, we are known as the Alliance. Today, the Alliance works to produce collective solutions for affordable housing and sanitation in over 58 cities and 9 states in India. The Indian Alliance is also a founding member of Slum Dwellers International (SDI), a transnational network of the urban poor in over 30 countries.