The One Drawing Challenge 2021

by Robbie

Architecture students across the globe have navigated a challenging path over the past year and a half, with the pandemic depriving them of many of the physical collaborations and in-person exhibitions previous generations have taken for granted. This unique situation should not take away from these students’ talent and innovation, and they deserve huge credit for their incredible hard work this year.

The question is, how can you get your work seen by architecture firms and elevate your resumé as you begin the hunt for a job in practice? One way could be to enter the One Drawing Challenge, a global ideas competition with a simple design brief and big prizes.

Open for entries now with an Early Entry Deadline of Friday, July 2nd, the One Drawing Challenge poses a simple question: Can you tell a powerful story about architecture with a single drawing? Your drawings could earn you $2,500 and get your project seen by thousands of top architecture firms in the process. Here’s how to get involved:

The Challenge

Your task is simple. Create a single drawing that tells a visual story about architecture — existing or imagined — and the experience of those that inhabit it. It can be located anywhere in the world and be at any scale. It can take the form of a plan, section, elevation, perspective or sketch. As long as it portrays part or all of a building or group of buildings, it is eligible.

If this sounds like hard work, look on the bright side: it’s likely you’ve already created an amazing drawing for your final review. If that’s the case, your submission is ready and waiting to go!

Enter the One Drawing Challenge

You must write a short paragraph to accompanying your drawing — no longer than 150 words — that describes your drawing and the story it tells. This could include but is not restricted to descriptions of the formal, atmospheric and poetic qualities of the buildings and spaces shown in your drawing. There are no specific requirements here — be creative!

If you’ve got an existing drawing you’re proud of, this is your chance to show it off on a global stage — or produce a brand new drawing especially for the challenge! Either way, we can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Now, we can hear you asking: How can I maximize my chance of winning or securing a place among the finalists? Read on …

Competition fees and guidelines

There is a submission fee which helps us keep our engines running and hosting competitions like this one, but we want to make the program as accessible to students as possible. For this reason, fees are lower for all students and recent graduates. We recommend submitting as soon as you can, when fees are at their lowest (the Early Bird Deadline is this Friday, July 2nd).

Head this way for complete competition guidelines and eligibility.

The Judging Criteria

The judging process for the One Drawing Challenge is designed to reflect the multi-faceted qualities of architectural drawings. Our outstanding cast of jurors will be asked to select winning entries based on their communicative and aesthetic qualities, as well as their potential to “go viral” on social media. Entries that stand out in one or more of the following categories stand a great chance of being a Winner.

The Jury will evaluate drawings based on the following criteria:

1. Communication

Unlike a piece of art, the most important quality of an architectural drawing is its ability to communicate the design intent behind an architectural proposal. Further to this, a good drawing can tell the story of a building and those that might inhabit it in a single snapshot. The image can communicate many different things and focus on one or more of the following aspects: Spatial layout, technical details, materials, connections between architectural elements, relationship to context, the transition between spaces, and more.

2. Aesthetics

A beautiful drawing is undeniably appealing, but at their best, the aesthetics of a drawing are about more than just beauty. They convey the essence of the architecture they are portraying, and the atmosphere of a space. A well-considered drawing can portray a specific architectural language that speaks to the author’s wider design philosophy. Aesthetics may also concern the portrayal of an untidy, chaotic or even “ugly” brand of architecture to paint a powerful picture of certain environments.

3. Impact and “Shareability”

When communication and aesthetics are perfectly combined, they can produce an image that is eagerly shared among a huge design-oriented community. Virality is not an exact science, but Instagram experts understand the bold qualities that make an image memorable and shareable. The ingredients of a viral architectural drawing include but are not limited to: Bold geometry, unusual angles, rich color combinations, sharp contrasts, rhythmic patterns and strong legibility.

Those are the key factors to consider — but this competition is deliberately left open to interpretation. It’s up to you to decide how one tells a story with a drawing, and what you want that story to be.

If you have specific questions about the competition, check out the One Drawing Challenge FAQs, and if you have a further inquiry that is not answered there, you can reach out to us at

Enter the One Drawing Challenge



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