Design with Nature Competition – World Wetlands Day 2023

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Wetlands International and the National Environment Management Authority are launching the ‘Designing with Nature’ Competition.

If you are interested in Nature-Based Solutions, this call is for you. This competition is looking for innovative sustainable eco-tourism architecture that supports climate change adaptation and community well-being in a mangrove site in Kenya, where design is optimised and integrated with nature.

Mangrove wetlands are large expanses of coastal regions that provide crucial buffer zones between land and sea and play an important role in climate, society and nature. In Kenya, mangroves are of local, national and global significance with a high diversity of microfauna, surrounding vegetation and large numbers of migratory waterbirds and fish providing vital services for people and nature.

In the recent past, these benefits from mangroves have been on the decline. This is due to events arising from the changing climate, and the loss of biodiversity and incomes which are a rising concern for the communities living adjacent to these ecosystems.

Nature-Based Solutions are some of the measures that can be adopted to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural or modified ecosystems, to address societal challenges effectively and adaptively while simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits.

Wetlands International is collaborating with local community groups and key government agencies to construct a learning and eco-tourism site within a mangrove area covering one hectare (1 ha).

This call aims to promote the integration of mangroves as Nature-Based Solutions, which are ‘living solutions inspired by, continuously supported by, and using nature, that is designed to address various societal challenges in a resource-efficient and adaptable manner and to provide economic, social, and environmental benefits’.

Figure 1: Aerial view of the learning and eco-tourism site

As such, the site must incorporate the following:

i. Mangrove boardwalk: Covering about 500m, this elevated boardwalk should safely transport visitors above the mud and tangled roots through the fringe mangroves and take into consideration tidal and seasonal fluctuations.
ii. Raised bird watching platform: Overlooking the channel and mangrove forest, this will attract birdwatchers to birdlife and the panoramic views of the mangroves.
iii. A resource centre: Providing space for at least 50 people and creating learning opportunities will support engagement and research in the culturally enriching ecosystem.
iv. Low sustainability impact: Making use of environmentally friendly materials with minimal destruction to the surrounding mangroves must be embraced in addition to careful consideration of the local context.

You are welcome to add other functional spaces as per the design needs.

This competition is open to early career design professionals (not more than 3 years of experience) and students from higher learning institutions in Kenya.

The competition entries (proposals) should be submitted digitally in PDF files with the following information in English: name, title, short description, drawings. Optional: renders, pictures of prototypes.
The deadline for submissions is 23 January 2023.
• First Prize: KES 75,000 and an all expenses paid trip to a tourist destination in coastal Kenya
• Runner Up: KES 50, 000
• Second Runner Up: KES 30,000

The winning entries will be shared in Wetlands International’s website and social media accounts by 31 January 2023. For more information and questions on the contest, please visit: or contact us at [email protected]


By entering this competition, the entrant accepts these terms and conditions as set out hereinafter:

1. For the avoidance of doubt, the entrant hereby warrants that the entry(ies) are their own original works and they contain no feature or aspect or material that constitutes a breach (or potential/anticipatory breach) of a third party’s intellectual property.
2. Wetlands International will have the right to publish images of the winning entries – as selected by the judges – on our websites and other digital channels to promote your designs and future
3. The winning entries will be considered the property of Wetlands International and will be appropriately credited to the entrant.
4. The judges’ decision will be final and no correspondence will be allowed.
5. Entrant may submit a maximum of two entries.
6. Entry is free