McMaster University’s Greenhouse Competition

Submission: March 31, 2016
Registration: March 31, 2016
Language: English
Location: Ontario, Canada
Prizes: 1st Prize: $1,000 CDN, x2 Runner-Up Prize: $400 CDN each
Type: Architecture Students


McMaster University seeks ideas to transform a tropical greenhouse into an inviting campus feature, potentially linked to a gathering space such as an atrium or coffeehouse.

McMaster University has a 100 sq m tropical greenhouse with a distinctive collection that draws many visitors. The greenhouse is 50 years old, and is to be moved to a more central location beside the Life Sciences Building (LSB). This move provides an opportunity to build a more iconic and inviting structure to enhance community engagement and enhance the campus environment. To build support for this venture, we are seeking designs that capture the potential of the site and enhance the profile of the tropical collection.


1st prize: $1,000 CDN
2 Runner-Up Prizes: $400 CDN each.


  • The University requires a setback from the road on central campus, indicated in the contest images.
  • The greenhouse is a 6.5m high structure to house tall banana and bamboo plants.
  • The new greenhouse will be built on the west side of the Life Sciences Building (LSB); please refer to the shadow plot. At the northwest corner is a non-descript concrete wall that can be a backdrop to the greenhouse. Alternatively, there is a sunken patio in front of the LSB that can be incorporated into the design.
  • Shadow plot identifies 2 zones where a greenhouse could be built. The LSB lacks a distinctive entrance from the west, so extensions of the plan that incorporate the ramp and stairs to the west entrance can be considered.
  • Designs should ensure the greenhouse is well placed within the shadow plot and not obscured by attached structures. Any attached structure should be a gathering place that leverages the greenhouse for atmosphere, and allows for relaxation, people watching and possibly refreshments.
  • A conventional greenhouse enclosing 100 sq m is estimated to cost $1M after interior servicing is complete. In seeking financing, designs with an attached atrium or other structure are hoped to require less than $2-5M to complete.


Submissions can be attached to a message through our contact us page, or to greenhouse.design@mcmaster.ca  Links to large submissions can similarly be emailed to greenhouse.design@mcmaster.ca, up to midnight March 31st, EST.

There is no pre-registration or submission fee.

Entries must address the design constraints listed below.

All submissions should be in a pdf format, in formats of 24 x 36 in (60 x 90 cm). There is no limit on page number.  Submissions must include

  • 2 or more views or renderings, from East, Southwest or Northwest. The construction village on the North side of LSB (seen in the Google images) should be removed.
  • an aerial view from the west, comparable to the eponymous Google image.
  • a short design statement, less than 300 words
  • a groundplan of the interior design of the tropical house and attached space(s).

Entries become the property of the Department of Biology of McMaster University. They may be copied in promotional material or planning documents, with attribution to the original creator, unless otherwise requested by the contestant.

There is no entry fee. The competition is open to STUDENTS ONLY from Feb 15 to March 31, 2016. Winners will be announced online April 27, 2016.

Go to the competition’s website

Date: February 29, 2016