MAB Student Awards

Registration date:


Submission date:




The MEDIA ARCHITECTURE BIENNALE - MAB20 invites students to send in their projects for the MAB Student Awards. An internationally acclaimed jury will select nominees and winners in five categories. A selection of projects will also be presented in an online exhibition to be displayed on the MAB Student Awards website. []

Nominees and awards will be presented in an online live cast during MAB20. We especially encourage submissions that address the Biennale’s theme of Futures Implied and demonstrate the implications of media technologies for urban development, the design of our public spaces, and the well-being of the ecosystem at large.


Submissions open: 1 October 2020 Submissions close – sharp: 1 April 2021 Selections announced: 22 April 2021 MAB Awards Livecast: to be announced


Our cities and daily life are increasingly shaped by the emergence of digital technologies such as digital platforms, geolocated services and online maps, sensor technology, Internet of Things, responsive technologies as well as surveillance systems. None of these technologies brought into the city are neutral enablers, mere decorative structures or just simple marketplaces connecting demand and supply in fields as diverse as energy and transport to commerce and leisure. They are built upon numerous spoken and unspoken assumptions about urban life, each with their own implications for both social relations as well as their effect on the natural ecosystem. It is time therefore for the discipline of media architecture to address the implied futures of new technologies.

We are thus witnessing an unprecedented and multifaceted transformation that is not only changing the way in which cities are designed and managed but also the way in which we as humans behave, communicate and connect with each other and our environment. This emerging spectrum of interactive technologies often appears in the form of top-down smart city solutions aiming to optimize flows, efficiency, and safety. The introduction of these technologies often compromises public values; they may interfere with citizen’s rights or be detrimental to the ecosystem. This might, in the long run, set the ground for techno-deterministic dystopian futures. It is time therefore to ‘leap’ into the future and further explore the possible outcomes, paths and challenges of the technologization of cities and its implied futures.

Embracing the spectrum between innovation and critical thinking, speculation and pragmatism, the student awards aim to spark and materialize conversations on current and future urban paradigms. Projects can range from speculative future visions to concrete solutions aiming to showcase innovative ideas or uncover potential pitfalls of urban transformation. They can take a wide spectrum of formats and shapes: from responsive public spaces, urban screens, media facades, media kiosks and displays, to digitally mediated urban games, media art installations, local community platforms, mapping and navigation tools, as well as technologies that monitor, construct, design, manage and structure the use of urban resources.

The student awards, being an experimental space, encourages a critical as well as a constructive approach to the above themes. The following open questions aim to kick-start a discussion oscillating between utopia and dystopia, speculation and pragmatism.

- Is technology made to support social structures and circular urban systems or leading to an increase in consumption as well as a waste of resources?

- Does it enable a balanced interaction of humans and their environment or does it lead to uncontrolled development and exploitation of scarce resources?

- Can these technologies activate and recreate public places for communities or are they more likely to generate passive spaces that come alive only in the digital sphere?

- Could online participation lead to more inclusive engagement in cities, or would it lead to tokenism in disguise guided by vested interests?


The competition is open to students and recent graduates from around the world. Students can enter individually or as a group who have collaborated on the project. The project should be the outcome of a course, internship, graduation project, extracurricular activity or other assignment/ initiative at an educational institution, and is produced in 2019, 2020 or 2021. Submission is free of charge.

Submissions consist of a description of the project, a series of images, a poster (free design format, A1 format) explaining the project. A video explaining or documenting the project in action is recommended but not required.

Projects can be submitted in one of five categories that relate to MAB20’s main theme of Futures Implied. These categories are:

- The Aesthetics and Poetics of Responsive Urban Spaces- Citizen’s Digital Eights in the Era of Platform Ecologies- Playful & Artistic Civic Engagement- Restorative Cities- More-Than-Human Cities

To read the full curatorial statement and learn more about these themes, visit


The projects will be evaluated by an international jury and three nominees will be selected for each category.

All selected nominees will have their projects permanently showcased on the MAB Student Awards website and promoted via MAB20’s social media channels.

Nominees will also be interviewed about their projects and featured as a series of articles on KooZA/rch. This series will be published in May as a collaboration between MAB20 and KooZA/arch.

Aside from that, nominees will receive full access to the entire MAB20 Program for free, which will enable networking opportunities with industry professionals and academics from the field.

The awarded participants of each category, in addition to the above, will get access to exclusive networking sessions with MAB Chairs and/or members of the jury. Additionally, they will be invited to talk about their work during the MAB Student Awards online livecast.


To register and submit your projects, visit


The Media Architecture Biennale is the world’s premier event on media architecture, urban interaction design, and urban informatics. It brings together architects, artists and designers, leading thinkers on urban design, key industry and government representatives as well as community activists. Together, they explore the design and role of media in the built environment and its implications for urban communities and ecosystems.

The MAB20, originally planned for the fall of 2020, will take place on June 28th – July 2nd, 2021 in an online format. All of the major events such as workshops, keynotes, awards and paper sessions will be accessible online from locations throughout the world. We still hope to be able to accompany these with some smaller scale, on-site meet-ups in Amsterdam and Utrecht, depending on Covid regulations at that time. Our goal is to ensure we provide an exciting and safe experience to the MAB-Community.


MAB Student Awards Chairs

Juan Carlos Carvajal Bermúdez, Media Architecture Institute | juan@mediaarchitecture.orgOlina Terzi, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences –


The Media Architecture Biennale 20 is organized by the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences in collaboration with Utrecht University.

Download the information related to this competition here.