Over 180,000 asylum seekers have arrived in New York City since the spring of 2022. Many did not choose this city as their destination, but all are travelers who left a previous home behind. In September 2023, Mayor Eric Adams stated, “New York is one of the few states where you have the right to shelter… however, while our compassion is limitless, our resources are not.” Shelter is only guaranteed for 30 days for single individuals and 60 days for families.

Recipe for a Room asks student competitors to create a safe, temporary, portable Room for two displaced persons (one parent and one child), constructed of items one might take when leaving a previous life: a bag, a coat, favorite shirt, shoes, family photos, etc.

The competition is hosted by the AIANY Interiors Committee. Net proceeds from the event will go to a non-profit working to directly assist displaced persons.

Image credit: “Origami house archetypal night lamp” by mammaoca2008 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


May 19, 9:00 AM
Student application opens 

July 1, 5:00 PM
Student application deadline 

July – August 
Students and mentors convene to design and build their miniature room 

September 5, 6:00 PM
Students and mentors showcase their work during a real-time virtual event, and judges will name the winners

Award Categories

Two winners will be selected:

  • Audience favorite
  • Judges’ favorite

Contest Details

Each student designer will:

  • Be paired with a professional mentor, either a licensed architect or interior designer in NYC
  • Communicate regularly with their mentor, who will serve as a design advisor and collaborator in the creation of a novel place of learning
  • Build a physical model of the room at 1″=1′-0″ scale.
  • Develop the room’s design concept. Studies and trials are encouraged! This should be a messy, hands-on process, not a computer drawing or digital model
  • Students will submit:
    1. Two 11×17 pdf slides of their designs
    2. A one-minute video, either a time-lapse of the model creation or a fly-through of the final product, which can include music and/or voiceover
  • Present their room at the Center for Architecture to a live audience at the Recipe for a Room event on September 5, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM ET.  During the event, mentors may provide comments, but students will serve as the main presenters.


Our website has detected that you are using a browser that will prevent you from accessing certain features. An upgrade is recommended to experience. Use the links below to upgrade your exisiting browser.