THE 2023 ADU Design Competition


  1. Overview
  2. Complete Design Brief
  3. Registration Form (REGISTRATION NOW CLOSED)
  4. Competition Timeline (important dates)
  5. FAQ Page
  6. Design Competition Webinar
  7. Our Funders
  8. Universal Design (helpful links)


mGAP is soliciting student competitors to design freestanding, practical, barrier free, and reusable Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s). This is an ideas competition which has two major goals:

  1. Address the housing income challenge for seniors who want to age in place
  2. Propose solutions for increasing density in first ring suburbs that are least impactful on streetscape and infrastructure.

With great design insights and innovative thinking, small-scale architecture can create viable, sustainable opportunities for seniors to age in place, and open the suburbs up to more and better ways to live. The mGAPADU Design Competition, sponsored by AARP and The Partners for Health Foundation, would like to inform representatives of universities, schools, and colleges offering architecture/design studies.  We are tasking both Graduate/Undergraduate architectural students (individuals or teams) currently enrolled in an architectural program in the northeastern quadrant of the USA to design a detached ADU suitable for a first ring NJ suburban community. Designs should explore how architecture can offer a new housing unit on existing single-family plots that will potentially: 

  • generate new rental income for the homeowner
  • provide a barrier-free residence on owner’s property 
  • conform to a minimum requirement of 6 ft to property line
  • conform to a maximum height of 15 feet to the top of the roof

We intend to use these designs as: 1) proof of concept and 2) to generate further dialogue within Suburban Essex and environs toward relaxation of existing zoning constraints where justified. Competitors will start design development process with a generic design based upon a real case scenario to provide context.