Competition Culture in Europe 2013-2016

Architectuur Lokaal publicationRecent European architectural competitions, and most specifically ‘design contests’,  in 17 countries have been surveyed to provide: 1) data on their numbers and typologies; 2) practical information on international competitions platforms, regulations and critical discourse and 3) country case studies that provides commentary on the architectural culture within each state.

Specifically the following was addressed; the numbers and typologies of competitions called between 2013 and 2016, above and below EU procurement thresholds; descriptions of the client, who issued the calls (public/private), prize money, winners, and topics are reported; where and how these were publically announced including the portals and how many lead to being realised.

Each country additionally provided; an analysis of three briefs, to explain the general nature of a sample of competitions; lists of engaged organisations and people providing critical debate in each country with short biographies and contact details (from 3 – 10); with summary commentary and analysis of the countries competition context and culture: good, bad, topics, debate, successful, transparency, political involvement, professionalism of clients and quality.

This book, giving broad, fresh and insightful information on Competition Culture in Europe, is the results of this pan-European survey executed by Project Compass CIC, Architectuur Lokaal, and A10 new European architecture Cooperative.

It is part of a programme to improve the accessibility and transparency of European architectural competitions concentrating on the development of new, innovative processes that increase international opportunities for young architects, and thereby increasing the offer to the client, by levelling the playing field.

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.

A synopsis of UK Architectural Competitions Practices and Trends, March 2017

Project Compass CIC PublicationsThis report is a synopsis by Project Compass CIC about UK architectural competitions. It forms part of a comparative evaluation, stocktaking and exploration of competition culture in Europe, commissioned by Architectuur Lokaal on January 17, 2017. This analysis, which includes some recent summary case studies, is being undertaken with a view to researching the opportunities and potential expansion of alternative innovatory European practices, and for furthering their implementation over the period 2017-2020.

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 PublicationsProject Compass reports on the trends in public procurement in the UK construction industry during the period 2009-2014.
Project Compass CIC (UK) in collaboration with the Steunpunt Architectuuropdrachten & Ontwerpwedstrijden of Architectuur Lokaal (NL) launches a new tool showing all contract notices for architecture in the UK and the Netherlands via one portal in a free, simple and transparent manner. was launched at the Heat in the Delta national conference on 28 November in Amsterdam.

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


Ten Principles for Procuring Better Outcomes (RIBA)

Ten Principles for better Procurement (RIBA) Published 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. How reforming construction procurement can drive growth in the UK economy. 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.

Collaboration UK <>NL 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.

the independent European portal for architectural competitions & contests.

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

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