General Note, March 8 2018

Due to a recent challenge which questions some aspects of our data we have taken the decision to temporarily remove links to two publications (“Competition Culture in Europe 2013-2016” and “A synopsis of UK Architectural Competitions Practices and Trends, March 2017”) from our site until we are able to validate the information or amend it as required.

Project Compass Design Contest Guidance

Project Compass CIC Publications

Properly run design competitions are a rarity in the UK construction sector. This document sets out why Project Compass believes that design contest procedures can achieve exceptional design value, encourage innovation and delivery high levels of quality without exposing the commissioning client to unnecessary risk. The report makes a number of recommendations on how such good design competitions, both above and below the OJEU threshold, should be run and what policies may be adopted to sustain them better and expand their use. It provides a step by step guide to running design contest procedures and describes some new and innovative practices that can be considered, along with sources of further advice, additional resources and links.

Building better flood resilience for Southsea’s frontage and common

Project Compass CIC PublicationsThe ‘Portsmouth Elephant Cage’ was an innovative programme that emerged through an experimental open cross disciplinary competitive procedure, based on ‘parallel commissioning’ (Design Contest Guidance. p.39). Briefings, international research and case studies from wide sources informed alternative strategic designs for Portsmouth’s sea defences.

This report provides an evaluation of the proposed sea defences, provides a programme summary and following the findings proposes a resilient design alternative delivering more sustainable long term benefits.  The new vision is illustrated and recommendations are made to adopt improvements.

The programme was organised by Project Compass with Dutch partners Architectuur Lokaal in Nov. 2016 and March 2017. The report is by director Walter Menteth and published by Project Compass CIC, it is distributed under ‘The Island City papers’ imprint here.


Thames Garden Bridge Procurement Issues

Project Compass CIC PublicationsThis report by Project Compass CIC on the Thames Garden Bridge explores issues around TfL’s procurement of the Bridge Design Services (TfL 90711 Design Services) and Temple Bridge Lead consultant (‘TfL 90001 Task 112 Temple Bridge’) contracts awarded in 2013.



Public Construction Procurement Trends 2009-2014

Project Compass CIC PublicationsA Project Compass report into the trends in public procurement in the UK construction industry during the period 2009-2014 which evaluates the trends in UK public sector architectural design procurement for commissions that come within the remit of the European Union Directive 2004/14 and its threshold values over the last five years (2009-14).

Project Compass CIC has captured over 12,000 OJEU notices, generating entities to cover all notice types in all procedures and under all instruments with frameworks, lots and their contents. This data has been interrogated and a range of concerns for the architectural profession in the UK, such as market access, evidenced.


Education Funding Agency Procurement Issues

Project Compass CICAs Making Government business more accessible to SMEs: two years on highlighted, SMEs are making a valuable contribution to the Public Sector Supply chain, helping to reduce costs and increase innovation.

However, SMEs are still often being discriminated against when attempting to participate in the Education Funding Agency’s Capital School Building programme; Perplexingly, the issue seems to be due either to faulty procurement practices or to the procurement team not fully adhering to Cabinet Office Procurement Policy Notices and wider regulations.

This brief report has been written to highlight how Regional Contractors
Framework procurement has failed and how the situation moving forward
could be improved to increase accessibility of contracts to the SME

Collaboration UK <>NL

European portal for architectural competitions & contests. is the result of a close collaboration between Project Compass CIC and Architectuur Lokaal. Unlike the Netherlands, the UK does not have a single public procurement portal but a number of national, regional and commercial sites. is a collaboration between both  organisations and draws together outputs to improve practices and transparency.

Market transparency will raise market transparency for architects in Europe dramatically by providing a single architectural competitions portal for both countriues. also provides access to the digital tool SESAM which interrogates all data in its database, from both from UK and Netherlands. This represents a giant leap forward towards a better insight into the European market for architecture. To extend the service reach it is hoped that organisations from other European countries will join this service from 2018

Contact us if you have any questions at


The following publications provide further tools and references for those seeking better design procurement. They are made available under a creative common (CC BY-ND) licence. Those by RIBA remain © Royal Institute of British Architects and they request that in any referencing a link to be provided.

Ten Principles for Procuring Better Outcomes (RIBA)

Ten Principles for better Procurement (RIBA)Published by RIBA in 2016, Ten Principles for Procuring Better Outcomes,  clarifies how public client organisations can get better possible outcomes when they procure architectural services.

As a result of poor procurement practice or lack of in-house expertise, public clients often don’t get what they expected and communities don’t get the buildings they deserve. This provides guidance on how effective public procurement that prioritises good design outcomes can maximise the social,  environmental and economic benefits of development so it can be designed to serve its intended purpose, be efficient to build, maintain and operate, and have a positive impact on the community it serves.

Building Ladders of Opportunity (RIBA)

Building Ladders of opportunity
Building ladders of opportunity. RIBA May 2013

Published in 2012, Building Ladders of Opportunity was the output of the RIBA‘s Procurement Reform Group set up by then President Angela Brady.

The document highlights some of the principal concerns with how public buildings are currently commissioned in the UK and makes recommendations as to how reform could stimulate growth in the economy. This report impacted reforms of Directive 2014/24/EU and the Public Contracts Regulations 2015

Procurement Case Studies (RIBA)

Published in 2012 in the suite of reports output by the RIBA’s Procurement Reform Group these Case Studies evidence practice and highlight some specifically identified issues. All references to more detailed recommendations in this document are to recommendations in ‘Building Ladders of Opportunity.

Procurement Survey 2012 (RIBA)

The RIBA commissioned Mirza & Nacey Research to conduct an on-line survey amongst architectural practices during the period January to February 2012. This report, published in 2012 in the suite of reports output by the RIBA’s Procurement Reform Group, sets out the results of the survey.  An RIBA viewpoint responding to the findings is set out in the lead report ‘Building Ladders of Opportunity’ and Procurement Case Studies’. The survey ascertained a number of professionally detremental findings, in detail and for the first time.

Comparative Procurement: Procurement regulation and practice in Germany, Sweden and the UK

Published in 2012 this independent report, commissioned by the RIBA from Burges Salmon LLP, examines the comparative implementation of the EU Public Procurement Directive, as it relates to the appointment of architects and the procurement of buildings in Germany, Sweden and the UK, and in the context of some of the RIBA’s key procurement reform recommendations set out in their report ‘Building Ladders of Opportunity.

Response paper: on the Modernisation of EU Public Procurement Policy towards a more efficient European Procurement Market

This response to the EU Green Paper Consultation from Walter Menteth Architects, the RIBA Small Practice Public Sector Procurement Working Group and the RIBA, was prepared by Walter Menteth on behalf of the group. This 2011 report describes a range of issues for architects relating to the EU procurement system along with its interpretation and application at national level that are believed require urgent reform. It provides industry data, evidenced examples with discursive background, and proposes key opportunities for the comprehensive reform thought necessary. This EU response paper impacted reforms of Directive 2014/24/EU, the Public Contract Regulations 2015 and precipitated establishment of the RIBA Procurement Reform Group in furtherance of some of the described objectives.