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Exploring Life & Business with Kyle Zook of Arch Out Loud

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kyle Zook.

Hi Kyle, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Hi, thanks for having me. Growing up I was always interested in architecture because I saw designing buildings as an opportunity to solve problems and influence people’s daily lives. That’s what led me to study architecture in college which I began shortly after the financial crisis of 2008. While in school I was looking at ways to get more experience, however, the industry was still struggling to bounce back and opportunities were limited.

I started to participate in open architecture competitions as a way to expand my portfolio. After doing a few competitions myself, a fellow classmate and I started to realize that there was an opportunity to create better competitions that made it easier for architects to focus on design while also connecting them with some of our world’s most pressing issues; issues that were often overlooked or under-explored. This drove us to create Arch Out Loud.

Over the past seven years, Arch Out Loud has brought opportunities to thousands of architects and designers all across the globe through open design competitions. These competitions have helped reshape the way society views these problems and has created a platform for all designers to take part in discussions and propose innovative ideas. Our explorations have created solutions for things such as vertical cemeteries in Tokyo, mixed housing in Mumbai, landmarks for nuclear waste sites, bathhouses in the Korean DMZ, and hurricane-resistant homes.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It has definitely not always been a smooth road. We’ve had to learn how to “design the design competition”. We are always experimenting with what designers are capable of undertaking and what can make the process easier for them. In some competitions we gave designers too many parameters and, in others, we didn’t give them enough parameters to design with.

It’s always a balance based on what the focus of the competition is. Being too far on one side of the spectrum reduced the number of proposals and potential solutions to the competition topic. We’ve found the most innovative solutions arise when we give room for designers to freely explore issues but enough of a building program or site location to start.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
We create architecture competitions that are open to anyone around the world. We started Arch Out Loud because we noticed a lot of design and architecture opportunities were limited to only corporate firms or a small group of established designers. Our competitions give all designers the opportunity to propose ideas for architectural challenges. These opportunities lead to a more diverse and better range of solutions. Competitions that we host enable a global and open approach to design instead of only allowing our critical issues to be solved by a small, privileged group of people.

Our explorations have created solutions for things such as vertical cemeteries in Tokyo, mixed housing in Mumbai, landmarks for nuclear waste sites, bathhouses in the Korean DMZ, and hurricane-resistant homes. Design is a service that the majority of the world’s population doesn’t ever get to use. We try to focus our research and competitions on groups of people that need design.

Our latest competition, Miami Floating Housing, is exploring housing solutions for those falling victim to the emerging trends of climate gentrification. The competition is looking to explore new housing solutions for residents displaced from their current neighborhoods because of rising costs due to our changing climate. We hope that both local and international architects put forth ideas that address this growing problem and provide inhabitants of the floating housing with a sustainable lifestyle.

Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
Young architects and designers should participate in at least two or three open competitions a year. This allows you to quickly build a body of work while also helping address design issues for those in need. As designers, developing a body of work is critical. Your portfolio will help you gain more clients and/or get a position at an architecture office you are excited to be a part of. The easiest way to do this is to participate in open architecture competitions.


  • Advance Entry to the Miami Floating Housing Competition (Until August 2nd) $55
  • Early Entry to the Miami Floating Housing Competition (Until September 27th) $75
  • Regular Entry to the Miami Floating Housing Competition (Until November 08) $95

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