Whether or not you’ve had the pleasure of experiencing a pop-up library on the streets of New York City or sitting in a “parklet” in San Francisco, you’ve probably seen these ideas floating around the blogosphere as ways to create interaction and community in public spaces. As these ideas continue to transform their respective neighborhoods, creative professionals are coming up with ways to push this idea forward.

This October, SXSW Eco, a sustainability-focused SXSW offshoot in Austin, Texas, is giving architects, designers, and artists a place to showcase new methods of connecting people in public spaces with its new Place By Design competition. “SXSW Eco is a solutions-oriented conference, so we wanted to showcase solutions for underutilized public space outside of the traditional conference panel discussion,” says Julie Yost, project manager for SXSW Eco. “We hope it will be another component of our event that will spark interesting conversations and inspire all of our registrants to envision the potential of their own communities.”

The competition has already received submissions from around the world, from regular citizens and professionals alike and ranging from an architectural pavilion and an outdoor art installation to things like Candy Chang’s “Before I Die” project in New Orleans. Any project that transforms the way a community interacts with its space is considered. “Placemaking can be enacted by anyone, not just design or policy professionals,” Yost says, “so we want our Place by Design programming to bridge the gap between professionals and novices.”

Projects will be on display for the entirety of the event, and project architects and designers will present their project to a panel of judges. All finalists will be promoted before and during the event.

As far as what the judges are looking for in a winner for this competition, Yost says the competition might have multiple winners, one for a permanent installation and one for a temporary one, since this is Place By Design’s first year. “We want to be surprised and inspired and see a design that demonstrates a positive community impact,” she says. “It doesn’t have to save the world. It can be as simple as adding seating or a level of interactivity to an underutilized area.”

Do you have an amazing project that you want to showcase at SXSW Eco? Go here to submit your application. Deadline is July 31, 2013.

UPDATE: Deadline for submissions extended until August 4, 2013.

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