Welcome to Project Compass

ProjectCompass CIC a new free easy access e-procurement service for architects and clients, providing current UK construction-related OJEU tender notices, data, research, resources and guidance.

Notice Type:   Procedure:   Award Criteria:   Region:  RSS Feed:    Deadlines:  
Project Compass Design Contest Guidance

Project Compass CIC has published its Design Contest Guidance for the appointment of Architects and Design teams.

Click here to download or order a hard copy of the document.

Cover of Project Compass CIC Design Contest Guidance

About Project Compass CIC

Fulcrum presents a rolodex of current OJEU notices arranged from green to red ordered by the time available to submit responses, with filters for notice types, procedure, award criteria, project location and date. This connects to the issued notice and delivers to your desktop free automatic alerts based on your criteria with or without a calendar feed.

Sesame provides transparent analysis, tables and visualisations of notice data since 2008, from our comprehensive database. Many variables can be tracked and interrogated including client type, winning organisations, location, size, value, date and project type. This offers industry up to date market research covering processes, procurement histories and outputs.

Compass delivers clear recommended best practice procurement guidance along with resources. This supports better and more competitive access with simpler more intelligent commissioning processes.

Our activities address the need to change UK construction procurement practices because they are evidently inefficient relative to our continental competitors operating under the same EU Directives.

UK Procurement has frequently been gold-plated, disproportionate, inappropriate, unduly complex and incapable of addressing risk proportionately.  High UK procedural costs have been driving further contract aggregation and denying market competition, particularly for micro and SMEs businesses. 

Denying competition impacts on cost, quality, innovation, growth and long term economic benefit by constraining business progression. It increases expense for all, whilst reducing choice, competition, potential and value. 

In ‘Compass’ we aim to highlight the many advantages and flexibilities some alternative approaches to procurement can offer to increase understanding of the potential. Their appropriate use can lead to considerable benefits in cost, value, quality and time.

By providing direct links to sector specific public contract notices ‘Fulcrum’ improves transparency and accessibility, reducing time and cost for competitors. To make informed judgement links permit competitors opportunity to review a contracting authority’s procurement history and background. 

When you read notice details we encourage you to respond in our ‘comments box’ to those which fall short, are erroneous, discriminatory, and disproportionate or unduly reduce competition. These comments can be used to petition for amendments and redress before the notice deadlines, whilst providing market feedback for future client guidance.

ProjectCompass CIC is a not for profit organisation. Users are invited to make a donation to support its member’s commitment and ensure the facility maybe sustained and expanded over time.

Latest News


29 May 2017

Don't miss the Final Call for Registration submissions

The registration deadline for Europan Netherlands 14 

Open call for Architects and Urban Planners: Help Amsterdam build 50.000 houses in the next 8 years. Europan has 5 key development sites available. First prize: €16.000 + paid design assignment & active support by established mentor. All shortlisted designs will be exhibited and published. for further details: http://www.europan-nl.eu/news/

Register your participation before June 19th as its now in less than one month!

A synopsis of UK Architectural Competitions Practices & Trends

21 March 2017

Project Compass CIC have published a newly commissioned report covering UK architectural competitions that forms part of a comparative evaluation, stocktaking & exploration of European competition culture. It includes some case studies & has been undertaken to collate info. to further research the opportunities & potential expansion of alternative innovatory European practices. PCompass director Walter Menteth has written on some of the findings from the case studies seperately in further detail HERE.

An Essential Guide to Public Procurement: Better Prospects & More Opportunities

17 January 2017

PCompass director Walter Menteth will be delivering an RIBA CORE CPD PROGRAMME in 14 English cities over 2017 entitled ‘An Essential Guide to Public Procurement: Better Prospects & More Opportunities’. These seminars are Open to the Public. Details of dates & venues close to you are available HERE

The seminar will cover: the background & context; the new regulatory environment; Understanding a competition, the notice and brief  Pre market engagement; RIBA Ten Principles for Procuring Better Outcomes; Competitive bidding; The question of how change in procurement culture with better competitive processes and practices can be embedded, will also be addressed.

The seminar will provide: an update on public competition reforms, the principles & contributories, as well as efficiency & effectiveness, SME access & levelling the playing field.  The RIBA Ten Principles for Procuring Better Outcomes will be detailed, including advice on encouraging consortia bids from smaller practices, tips on consultant capability assessment, & selection of suitable building contracts.  Competitive bidding & the bid itself will be explored, including do's & don’ts on practices strengths & weaknesses, content & tone of responses to a tender invite, & identifying pass/fail areas, as well as understanding learning opportunities from the tender evaluation stage & feedback.

The European Single Procurement Document

8 January 2017

The European Single Procurement Document (ESPD) came into force on 26 January 2016, is now aligned to UK procurements and its digital implementation across Europe will be completing in 2017 - What more do you need to know and do? Read more here.

The highlights (and a few low points) of 2016's design competitions

24 December 2016

(This article originally appeared on the Architects' Journal website, here.)

Those with their noses pressed firmly to the grindstone of the public sector will know that 2016 presented an increasingly exasperating array of pungent procedures and cack-handed contracts.

Despite evidence of good practice emerging in isolated pockets across the UK, many of us continued to wrestle with excessively complex, unnecessarily verbose prequalification questionnaires and archaic and bewildering web portals seemingly coded on a Commodore 64.

It was a big year for high-profile cultural projects. The Museum of London began and concluded the selection of a design team for its new Smithfield home, with the award going to a talented team headed by Stanton Williams. Meanwhile, in Essex, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council commenced, abandoned, and began again its search for an architect to take forward the Thames Estuary Museum it had previously awarded back in 2009, but which had ground to a halt in the seven years since AEW's original scheme won planning. Quite who's up for taking on this apparently Sisyphean task might become apparent early in the new year.

As the year progressed we witnessed the emergence of a troubling trend: at least two public sector tenders pushed the cost of administration onto the winning consultants. In a particularly mercenary move, East Sussex Council required successful tenderers to stump up running costs amounting to a quarter of a million quid across a three-year framework (generously leaving open an option to extend it to four), providing no guarantee that these eye-watering figures will be offset by fee income. Architects already grumbling about the cost of tendering for frameworks from which they rarely get work are unlikely to be delighted by the prospect of now paying huge sums for the privilege.

To the north, then, where, in a somewhat callous response, Sheffield University batted away criticisms of its competition for a new £25 million Music Centre, claiming that the 150 expressions of interest it had received were evidence not of a tragic waste of everyone's time, but rather an indication of how enticing the entire enterprise was. The open, single-stage procedure itself called for an outline design to accompany the tender submission, a sadly all-too-common approach in which architects hand out their ideas for free in the vague hope of landing a juicy commission.

To cap off a less than auspicious year, while most of us were peeling back the first door of our advent calendar, competitors in the Helsinki Guggenheim competition were opening their inboxes to discover that, nearly two years after it was opened, the entire competition was being abandoned. Some estimates place the total cost of work contributed by architects approaching 10 per cent of the total capital cost of the entire building budget, and while nobody seriously enters such contests expecting to win, the enigmatic renders it generated were destined to remain vapourware forever more.

It wasn't all bad news. The Science Museum continued its ambitious redevelopment programme with a raft of interesting awards. March saw the completion of Coffey Architects' library, won back in 2014, while Muf's celebrated Interactive Gallery opened to the public two years after it was awarded. Duggan Morris was announced winner of the new top-floor event spaces (full disclosure: RCKa was on the shortlist) and HAT Projects was picked to design new entrance space. The Science Museum's continuing support of both emerging and established firms demonstrates that in certain sectors there remains an appetite for innovation and creativity that eclipses any misplaced perception of risk.

The past year also witnessed one or two small, but significant, successes. Cambridge University graciously lowered the turnover limit for their Biomedical Campus masterplan following pleas that the original value excluded smaller firms (although retaining a level which was still much higher than perfectly capable teams could manage). Surrey University did the same, but this time under considerable duress, after complaints that its imposition of excessive financial thresholds were in conflict with EU law. A cancellation of the contest and subsequent republication in April with marginally more modest barriers to entry was a welcome victory in an otherwise infelicitous year for higher education capital projects. HLM, a firm which could have cleared the original turnover requirement several times over, went on to nab the £3.8 million Student Union refurbishment in October.

And what's in store for 2017? The untangling of the UK's Public Contracts Directive from European procurement laws may well commence, but is unlikely to result in any significant improvements, given our national propensity for unnecessarily complex and bureaucratic processes. More importantly, the New Year provides us all with an opportunity to call out those procedures which get it badly wrong. Empowered by the modest successes Project Compass has achieved over the past 12 months, it has been great to see others assuming the mantle and taking action. The tide may finally be turning.

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