PDXplore’s Imagination Challenges aim to curate the creativity and ingenuity of our readers and inspire design from within our own community. Our goal is to locate undeveloped or underdeveloped pieces of land around Portland - and challenge you - our readers to fill in the blanks and paint the best possible picture of what could possibly go in those places.

Here’s the challenge:


We will start by picking the places, empty or underdeveloped lots we stumble upon as we explore Portland, and supply you with the information; Lot size, zoning, historical context, pictures of the surrounding neighborhood, and any other pieces of information that you would need to know to begin your design.

Then you, as the challenge taker will design what could possibly go there. A duplex or triplex? An apartment building? A mixed-use space? It’s really up to you … and the zoning code. How you want to present your design is up to you and your abilities. Are you an architect with access to professional design software? Use it! Are you untrained but still full of wonderful ideas about building and design? Draw us something up, detail it out for us, and send it in! There is no limit on professionalism for submissions, we just want to put your ideas out into the world.

After receiving your submission, we will share it on social media and on our website. After receiving multiple different submissions for a space, we may even send them to the property owners to help them spur their imaginations too.

Helpful Tools and Considerations

Sketchup Free - This free software allows you to turn your dreams into 3D models

www.portlandmaps.com - Is your best friend for everything you need to know about the land

Understanding Portland zoning - This page tells you everything you need to know to understand what the zoning identification means and what can be built

What uses should occur in the building?

  • Retail/restaurant

  • Housing

    • Rental

    • Owned (e.g. townhouse, condo etc.)

  • Office

  • Craft fabrication

  • Some combination of the above

  • Something else?

How will you handle parking?

How does your design mesh with the context of the surrounding neighborhood?