Procurement & tendering processes

Project Compass Director Walter Menteth will be delivering:

A series of six RIBA Core CPD webinars on Procurement & Tendering Processes between now & November 2021.

You can book a place HERE, or your practice can contact the RIBA Head of CPD for an ‘in-practice’ delivered webinar (1, 2 or a grouping of practices).

Subjects addressed include procurement: –

  • principles,
  • regulations,
  • practices,
  • UK outcomes,
  • guidance for competitive bidding,
  • the proposed post Brexit Reforms,
  • issues & opportunities for the profession to lead in informing better public procurement going forward.

The post Brexit reforms (‘Transforming Public Procurement‘. Dec 2020) have now been tabled. The proposed reforms will have major impacts on architectural procurement for a generation.

Project Compass with the London Practice Forum have submitted a response paper which can be viewed HERE.

building culture: procurement of UK arts construction

by Bridget Sawyers & Walter Menteth

forthcoming 30 april 2021

Building Culture

building culture: procurement of UK arts construction

  • describes from inception, the commissioning culture and practice of UK arts buildings, over 204 A4 pages with 185 illustrations and addendices.
  • is a uniquely comprehensive exposure that offers case studies, research, reference, guidance, analysis of Covid impacts, and recommendations for communities, arts professionals, commissioners, clients, architects, project teams and policy makers, for future best practice.

Building Culture

contains –

  • A foreword by Donald Hyslop with 10 chapters by eminent architects, competition programmers and a client, including – Ian Ritchie, Brian Heron, Tim Ronalds, Sarah Featherstone, Hana Loftus, Alex Reedijk, Nicola Walls, Angus Morrough- Ryan, Jim Roberts, Chris Coleman-Smith, Luke Cooper and Sylvia Hebden.
  • Unique data analysis of the sector
  • Programming and funding guidance
  • Procurement analysis
  • Sustainability, inclusivity and social value overviews
  • Resources and references
  • Strategic insights and recommendations
  • Comprehensive Covid coverage

RRP £35 + £3.60 post & packing
Advanced orders £30 + p&p.
Press enquiries & advanced orders:

Transforming public procurement: Response to the Government consultation

Consultation response on UK Gov. post Brexit public procurement reform proposals.

Procurement reform consultation response 10/03/2021
Procurement reform consultation response 10/03/2021

This submission responds to the consultation on post Brexit reform of public procurement being proposed by the UK Government, published on 15 Dec. 2020.  While many of the proposed reforms are welcomed, such as the greater focus on long term outcomes and social value, this response highlights further opportunities to secure design quality, innovation, ease of access, and better construction sector procurement.

However most of the objectives raised appear possible under the Public Contract Regulations (PCR 2015)) and rather than reforming the legislation, a profound improvement in capacity, capability and culture is thought of greater value for achieving the objectives being sought.

Making proportionality a primary principle in procurement, retaining Design Contest procedures and assessment of fees on a mean narrowed average basis are among matters raised.

A primary principle in procurement should be proportionality, so that processes and procedures are most appropriate. For consultants in construction a specific concern is that the Design Contest Procedure is not included. This is the only procedure provided specifically for the appointment of architects and planners. It has an anonymous, qualitative and peer review assessment and selection procedure based on a spatial design proposition. It is a long standing internationally recognised competition format well explained within the Project Compass Design Contest Guidance. This procedure provides unique and innovative opportunities. 

This March 2021 joint response is a collaboration between Project Compass CIC and The London Practice Forum synthesised from responses received from friends and members of both organisations to a call for views on the Gov. outlined proposals.

LPF is a membership organisation of 22 architectural firms with a shared interest in fundamental challenges such as the ongoing climate crisis, the lack of diversity within the architectural profession and the poor quality of many of the buildings produced by it.

Competition Culture in Europe 2017-2020: Final Report

CCIE 2017-2020: final report published January 2021

Competition Culture in Europe 2017-20: Final Report
Competition Culture in Europe 2017-2020: Final Report

In Competition Culture in Europe 2017-2020: Final Report, activities, research & educational outputs from the 2017 International Competition Culture in Europe (CCIE) conference,  & the wider CCIE programme, are assembled to provide invaluable resources, knowledge & guidance. 25 European countries were involved in the programme & in 6 research programmes were set up.

The 1st part provides an overview of CCIE international convocations & their outputs. The 2nd part reports on University master students research from: Tirana (Albania), Sarajevo (Bosnia & Herzegovina), Sofia (Bulgaria), Athens (Greece), Dublin (Ireland) & Portsmouth (United Kingdom).  These country’s outputs cover the history, development, application, & opportunities of competitions in an international context. This publication is an Architectuur Lokaal project realised with Project Compass CIC & A10 New European architecture Cooperative. It was made possible with support from the Creative Industries Fund (NL).

European competition resources are now being shared on  From 2013 this facility was developed to its initial establishment in 2015, in partnership between Project Compass (UK) & Architectuur Lokaal (NL). Now with the support of many other partners in various European countries, has been relaunched under this programme & is now being maintained & will continue in development managed by Architectuur Lokaal (NL) with the support of the Creative Industries Fund NL. transparently provides knowledge, guidance, resources & support for continuing to support UK architects, post Brexit, seeking to access the EU market & information on particular country conditions.

View our publications page for further Project Compass publications

‘Transforming public procurement’

In Dec 2020 Gov. published its Green Paper on ‘Transforming public procurement’. This is intended to shape the future of public procurement for many years to come. They propose to comprehensively streamline and simplify the complex regulatory framework. The parallel rules in the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, the Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016, the Concession Contracts Regulations 2016 and the Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations 2011, will be rationalised and clarified. These will be replaced with a single, uniform set of rules for all contract awards. The purpose is to make the system more agile and flexible while still upholding fair and open competition.

The reforms identified include three simple procedures to replace the existing procedures:

• a new flexible procedure that gives buyers freedom to negotiate and innovate to get the best from the private, charity and social enterprise sectors.

• an open procedure that buyers can use for simpler, ‘off the shelf’ competitions.

• a limited tendering procedure that buyers can use in certain circumstances, such as in crisis or extreme urgency.

Along with new criteria that can contribute and sustain economic, social and environmental outcomes and reinforce ‘social value’ considerations.

The Green paper is available HERE, and responses should be submitted by 10 March 2021 to –

If you wish to discuss, c/c or submit any comments via Project Compass, as part of our submission, please don’t hesitate to contact us directly

Call to Project Compass website users

Project Compass CIC are moving towards the publication of an extensive body of new and unique UK procurement research, and various other outputs. We are also gearing up to address the Post Brexit Government Green Paper on Public Procurement (BEIS) which is anticipated within the next few months (on top of everything…).

As someone who uses the Project Compass website, we would very much appreciate your help with both our research and our bids for future research funding by providing a short testimonial about our services.

Testimonials covering any of the following would be of great value from individual micro & SME architectural practices and agencies who do/have used our service and resources: –

  1. Reviewing, linking to and pursuing contract notices that have highlighted opportunities that you may have gone on to bid for, rejected and/or won on our Feed.
  2. Researching the client, winning practices, contract and awards data base to appraise and inform your bidding processes from the services on Sesame.
  3. Further reference/into architectural/built environment procurement, its context and environment by using the guidance, reports and research available on the site publications page; or having cause to refer others eg policy makers or commissioners to any of these.
  4. News and/or other services such as direct/advisory/consultancy or project outputs

Testimonials from individual practices would validate, substantiate and support our ongoing research work, its utility and reach. We know from our analytics that the site is being well used, but we don’t have much evidence on an individual basis.

We hope you can therefore take a couple of minutes to help us by responding to:

By way of assurance.

Testimonials will only be used anonymously except in a non-public context. If we would like to use you name in any form of publication (across any media) we will ask for your prior agreement.

We very much hope you will join with us on ensuring that the best interests of architecture, practices, industry and society can be given a clear strong voice in response to the forthcoming Government Procurement Green Paper (BEIS).

We look forward to hearing from you.

With best wishes from us all,

The Project Compass Team

Covid-19: PPN 01/20

On 19 March 2020 the Government issued Procurement Policy Note (PPN) 01/20 responding to COVID-19.

“In these exceptional circumstances, authorities may need to procure goods, services and works with extreme urgency.

Authorities are permitted to do this using regulation 32(2)(c) under the Public Contract Regulations 2015.”

Regulation 32 (2)(c) states the following: –

32.— (2) The negotiated procedure without prior publication may be used for public works contracts, public supply contracts and public service contracts in any of the following cases:—

(c) insofar as is strictly necessary where, for reasons of extreme urgency brought about by events unforeseeable by the contracting authority, the time limits for the open or restricted procedures or competitive procedures with negotiation cannot be complied with.


Open Competitive Call

For young architects + planners

14:30, 4th March – 19:00, 6th March, 2020

Two Portsmouth council city centre residential towers have had their cladding stripped and been evacuated, post-Grenfell. Following survey investigations the towers are now scheduled for demolition, leaving the city’s housing stock reduced, although social housing demand continues to rise.

This new housing paradigm establishes the context for The Portsmouth Phoenix Competitive Call which is open to all architects and planners aged 40 years or less.

Site aerial from the east

Successful applicants will be mentored by the UK’s leading architects specialising in housing and sustainability, and will explore in collaborative teams over 2½ days design scenarios for future housing on the site. The Portsmouth Phoenix programme will conclude with a design presentation at an open public consultation with local residents and stakeholders.

This unique design master-class will provide a matchless opportunity to explore exemplary sustainable future urban housing, engaging the public while contributing knowledge forward to the sites development.

Site plan of study area

Mon. 10th February 2020, 12:00hrs

NB. Roughly 20 will be selected for the limited places, with about five allocated for planners. For those young professionals who will participate subsistence will be provided but not accommodation. This call is only suitable for those able to travel daily to Portsmouth or who will seek their own accommodation there for two nights (min.)

For full application details, the proposed programme and further information, download the pdf below


Portsmouth Phoenix

Architectural Design Competitions:

A Key Policy Tool to Ensure Quality in the Built Environment

30 OCTOBER 2019
Signature of the declaration by Georg Pendl, ACE President & Thomas Vonier, UIA President

Full Press Release transcript from the:

Conference on International Design Competitions organised by the International Union of Architects (UIA) and the Architects’ Council of Europe (ACE), 25 October 2019. UNESCO Headquarters, Paris


Architectural design competitions (ADCs) are among the most effective ways to achieve excellence in building and community design. They yield optimal concepts and plans for a given building programme, planning or landscape design task. Because they are based solely on the quality of proposed solutions, focused on the specific needs of a carefully defined project, competitions result in high-value solutions of great benefit to end-users, adding to the overall quality of life and design excellence in the built environment. The International Union of Architects (UIA) and the Architects’ Council of Europe (ACE) urge policymakers and government bodies to include architectural design competitions as a recommended procedure in public procurement laws, in order to promote enduring, excellent and responsible solutions for buildings and communities.

• • •

Architectural design competitions place focus on quality-based, project-oriented procedures. Competitions in architecture, town planning and landscape design offer an excellent way to evaluate multiple design proposals in a formal, professionally driven procedure, in order to find the best project for the defined need. In accordance with evaluation criteria set forth in a competition brief, professional, independent jurors assess designs submitted by competitors. Competitions are quality-based because juries make decisions solely on the basis of the quality of the proposals. They are project-oriented because their objective is to provide optimal solutions, tailored to the needs of the clients and the site.

Architectural design competitions have produced many culturally significant buildings across the globe, including the Sydney Opera House, the Centre Pompidou, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the Tokyo International Forum and the Egyptian National Library in Alexandria. We urge government bodies, public authorities and private clients to pursue quality and design excellence through competitions.

Competitions offer multiple benefits to clients, competitors and society

  • Quality: They result in architecture and urban developments of high quality.
  • Innovation: They are a source of innovative, economic and sustainable solutions.
  • Transparency: They are transparent and non-discriminatory, building credibility and public trust while promoting fairness and non-corruption via anonymous entries.
  • Flexibility: They are suitable for small and large entities, and for experienced clients as well as those with little experience.
  • Guaranteed quality: Highly qualified, independent professional jurors, along with client representatives, assess proposals against well-defined criteria.
  • Cost-efficiency and visibility: Costs for competitions are on the level of one percent of the overall construction budget, while compensating competitors adequately.
  • Public participation: They offer the opportunity to involve citizens in shaping the built environment, stimulating public debate on needs and design approaches.
  • Equal opportunity: All competitors have equal chances. Competitions can provide young and relatively unknown designers with the opportunity to complete major works; they are especially helpful in providing young professionals with a very good chance to enter the market.
  • Creativity: They create opportunities to test new ideas, inviting various approaches to formal expression.

The Architects’ Council of Europe and the International Union of Architects have developed detailed guidelines for organising fair and affordable competitions, covering these issues:

  • Principles of anonymity, transparency, equal treatment and non-discrimination,
  • Independence and composition of the jury,
  • Nature and scope of the competition brief,
  • Prize monies and remuneration,
  • Copyrights,
  • Dispute resolution.

There are many possible competition forms and procedures. We have experience with all of them. Regardless of the chosen form and procedures, the combination of a good design briefgood procedures and a good jury guarantees a good result.


International Union of Architects
Architects’ Council of Europe

TheProject Compass Design Contest Guidance: for selection of Architects and Design Teams’ for UK Architectural Design Competitions is available on our publications page.

This Project Compass Guidance provides recommended practices and procedures as described and aligned to the above UIA ACE declaration.

To find architectural competition across across Europe go HERE and/or to:



Tax is outdated making refurbishing old buildings to reduce emissions and the delivery of better quality construction too expensive

The Converstaion logo

Full article in The Conversation, 25 Oct 2019 by Walter Menteth


The construction of new buildings in the UK emits 48 megatonnes of CO₂ each year – equavalent to Scotland’s entire net emissions. The materials, transportation and construction processes for new buildings are all carbon intensive. Existing buildings already embody significant CO₂ emissions which makes it all the more important to upgrade and refurbish – rather than demolish and rebuild – wherever possible. But as it stands, the UK’s tax system actually puts a significant financial penalty on refurbishment, while incentivising new construction.

Construction VAT rates for all dwellings should be simplified: with all new or existing building works charged at 5% rate, as experts have long called for. It is also proposed that the existing 0% VAT rate for new dwellings be redefined, so that developers can only obtain financial rewards if they use low-carbon construction techniques certified on completion to deliver qualitative change and create highly energy efficient buildings.

This could accelerate reductions in CO₂ emissions and improve the quality of outputs while creating long-term economic benefits by reducing demands on energy supply and materials consumption – all of which could be done quite simply.

The article here describes how.