Greater Des Moines students are playing a game of make-believe in an effort to find solutions to the problem of providing affordable housing.

The effort is part of Affordable Housing Week, which runs through Saturday. Students were given the assignment to design a home for a fictional family of six. The house would be built on a Des Moines in-fill lot.

Design solutions offered by more than 50 metro area high school and middle school students will be on display at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Pappahjohn Center at 1200 Grand Ave. An hour later, five students will be asked to defend their projects before a panel of judges. The Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines’ Professional Women in Building will provide a $2,000 scholarship to the overall winner and two additional prizes of $500 each will be given by ASK Studio of Architects Schipper Kastner and the Polk County Housing Trust Fund.

“This is more than a design competition, it’s a real-life education and partnership on the challenge and importance of providing affordable housing,” said Creighton Cox, executive officer of the home builders group.

Architects from ASK Studio coordinated the competition and visited classrooms to assist students. Jamie Malloy of Improve Consult as assisted.

ASK Studio’s Justine Bangert, one of the contest's creators said, “The definition of affordable housing often has a social stigma attached to it. As architects, we strive to challenge design issues such as this every day. This event will be a great way to educate the community on what ‘affordable’ actually means and how it doesn’t have to look any different than the house next door. We look forward to seeing the students’ solutions and how they interpret affordable housing.”

The event is free and open to the public.

Meanwhile, Polk County Housing Trust Fund will have a bus tour from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Friday that will focus on affordable housing options along what is expected to be the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority’s planned rapid transit line. Click here for more information about the tour and other Affordable Housing Week activities.