Architectural design competition

In the field of architecture competitions (including architecture competitions or generally planning competitions) organized if you want to be found for an upcoming construction project or for a general idea finding the optimal design. Since there are still many different ways, despite some very precise specifications ( space program ) to structure a building to construct and shape, so one tries to find the best individual solution. Architectural competitions are one of the best quality-and project-oriented means for determining the best solution in terms of function, economy and aesthetics for a specific project. In addition, increasing the sustainability of a building plays a role in the evaluation.

  • 2.1 Germany
  • 2.2 Austria
  • 2.3 Switzerland
  • 3.1 Open and restricted competitions
  • 3.2 Planning and design contests
  • 3.3 Cooperative competitions
  • 3.4 student competitions


These competitions are held usually by the client, the Tenderer. This can be either a public institution, a company as a private person. Within the competition documents the conditions of competition are presented, which defines to edit task and objectives for the processing in the form of quantitative variables described (for example, the space required on the space program) or qualitative ideas.

Process and principles

The competition is organized by competition managers (eg a competent authority or a contractor for this purpose ), like the contestants are architects in general. The competition managers are responsible for coordinating the competition brief, collection of questions and the preliminary review of the submitted draft of the participating architects.

About the placement of a jury, in addition to the sponsors of the competition also professionals ( Jurors ) as well as users or other interested parties ( Jurors ) are represented. Normally, the recommended by the jury draft winners will be realized. For the first places prizes will be awarded. In addition to the prices of the awarding bodies may also provide recognitions, so that the services performed by the contestants work passes into the possession of the promoter. Continued use of the prize winners work is still possible only in the context of a further appointment, the property rights also remain in realizing always the author of the work.

The principles of the architectural competition

  • Equal opportunities for all participants
  • The assessment of the work by an independent jury
  • The anonymity of the participants
  • An appropriate price- performance ratio
  • An obligation to commission one of the winners
  • Securing the copyright of the participants

Sustainable Architecture Competition

Pursued a Tenderer the goal of establishing a sustainable especially true building, he can commit those target position in the competition. Thus, presently in contract notices many references to sustainable construction, but without derive specific requirements of it. Therefore looking for some time for ways to embed sustainability firmly in competition proceedings.

An early attempt at a factual review is published in 2004 Nomenclature for the assessment of the sustainability of architectural projects for the environment - SNARC the Swiss Engineers and Architects Association SIA. On the basis of 10 criteria, the environmental quality of buildings in the design phase can be estimated for comparison. The 2011 guide published Sustainability Oriented Architecture Competitions - Lena derives first from existing sustainability assessment systems from 20 preliminary draft relevant sustainability criteria. It is geared to the steps of building competitions and presents the options for use in a sustainable competitive process dar. The guide is based on the experience of a competition conducted in 2009 in the HafenCity Hamburg, and was given by the City of Hamburg in order. With a research project of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development ( BMVBS) previous experience in the national rating system for sustainable building Federal buildings were built in the fall of 2013 - NBB transferred. For this purpose a system has been developed, such as sustainability aspects in competition proceedings of the Federal should be considered.

Legal framework

International competitions are conducted on the basis of the " Recommendation Concerning International Competitions in Architecture and Town Planning " by the UNESCO in 1956, which were last updated in 1978. The International Union of Architects ( uia ) was entrusted by UNESCO with the application of the rules. She has to set up the " UIA Guide for International Competitions in Architecture and Town Planning". Only from uia supervised competitions may be held the title of " International Competition " wear and must meet appropriate requirements.

At European level, the Architects council of Europe ( European Confederation of professional representatives of architecture professionals ) developed akkordierte recommendations on the implementation of architectural competitions.

At national level, the legal framework will be defined differently.


In Germany, the guidelines for planning competitions (RPW 2008) by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development ( BMVBS) are published in 2009 and entered into force so that the principles and guidelines for competitions in the fields of spatial planning, urban development and construction ( GRW have replaced 1995). After an initial phase of these were slightly modified in the framework of an evaluation and introduced as " Guidelines for the planning competitions " ( RPW 2013). Liabilities but this is initially only for federal construction projects. The states were recommended the introduction, but now largely taken over. We foresee the RPW 2013 will also replace the rules for the competition brief of competitions ( RAW 2004) developed a simplified way to GRW, but have only been introduced in the federal states of North Rhine -Westphalia, Lower Saxony, Saxony -Anhalt, and Bremen. In general, only the planning departments of the federal and state required the application of a competitive order binding. Otherwise exist for the Tenderer no legal bindings on the application of RPW or RAW. Participating architects, however, are professional legally obliged to participate only in such competitions, in which fair competition performance is ensured. This is usually the case when one of the above competition regimes was applied. Moreover, the imposition of a competitive order that the process is carried out quite safely and according to fair rules of the game. It is therefore the aim of the architects' associations to enforce the application of the RPW for all procedures.


Architectural competitions in Austria follow the rules for the award of competitions in the public sector the Federal Procurement Act, where the part of the professional organization of architects, a guide can be used, namely the competition standard architecture (short ESC ).


To make architectural competitions for the text 142 ( order for architectural and engineering competitions) of the SIA Commission in Switzerland.

Forms of competition

Open and restricted competitions

Outside of the actual competition, that is, before shipping the competition documents to the participants, selection procedures are now in most cases to determine a numerically well-defined group of participants consistently. Such competitions are designated as distinct from open competitions where every interested party who has the qualifications set out in the notice, may submit a job, not as open ( RPW WOA ), limited (RAW) or limited ( GRW ) competitions. In terms of the selection process for restricted competitions there are many possibilities of direct nomination of participants on the basis of differentiated selection of references up to the lottery. The combination is possible and takes at most in procurement law restrictions, but only apply to public Tenderer.

A special feature is the two-phase competition, in which in a first open phase sketchy concepts to be submitted on a reduced scale, by which then participants will be selected for the actual competition processing in the second, restricted phase. In distinction to this, there are also two-stage contests with an identical core competition task in several steps is processed by the rule, the same group of participants, starting for example with an urban part to binding targets for a high structural part in the second stage leads.

Planning and design contests

Competitions are usually awarded as a planning competitions (formerly referred to GRW 1995 " design competition " or in Switzerland " project competition " ), that is, for a concrete project an optimal solution is sought. An essential element of the " contract " between the Tenderer and participants is the so-called " contract promises," that is, the promoter promises to appoint one of the winners with the further planning of the project, if and when the project is realized. In general, promised at least the phases 2-5 according Fee Structure for Architects and Engineers ( HOAI ) mandate.

In exceptional cases, competitions can be awarded as ideas competitions if a realization is not intended. These competitions also master planning approaches can be searched (usually urban ) to, for example, the establishment of guidelines, then, the further planning based on those. Due to the lack of order promise the prize money must be much higher than for realization of competitions. Particular attention should be paid here to the copyrights.

Because ideas competitions were often misunderstood as an option to conduct competitions without contract promise, even if the realization intention was that differentiation by realization and idea competitions has been abandoned in the RAW. The order promise is to be regarded here as a rule, each competition. In contrast, the RPW formulated still the option of a competition without an order promise, but as an exception. Since the amendment of 2013, this once again the term " ideas competition " is used.

Cooperative competitions

A fundamental principle of regulated competition is the anonymity. That said, be aware that even with a roll-call of participants in a restricted contest the contributions submitted and judged anonymously in order to ensure a focus on the content, regardless of the people. In exceptional cases, but competitions may also be awarded cooperative. In these cases, one or more presentation seminars are conducted to discuss with the participants shared solutions before they are further processed. An anonymity can not be maintained. Cooperative processes are possible only with a small number of participants and offer when the task or certain conditions can be concretized only in the course of the proceedings.

Student competitions

Competitions in which students are allowed to participate only in certain subjects. The border between students competitions and term papers that are offered by the universities in conjunction with external " competition organizers " are often blurred. Student competitions are not regulated and are not fully comparable with architectural competitions.


It is widely used to award public construction projects through a competition. These are, for example, government buildings, museums, sports stadiums, universities and urban development particularly formative buildings, as well as kindergartens, churches and other functional buildings and urban planning tasks. However, private companies and international corporations praise from competitions in which the task are office buildings or sale usually, but also production and research building.

  • Tenderer public: Competition on the remodeling of the Reichstag building in Berlin, 1993
  • Competition for the Chancellor's Office, 1995
  • Competition for the Westend Campus of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt, 2003
  • Competition for the Humboldt Forum in Berlin, 2008
  • Competition for the adidas World of Sports, 1998-1999 (architect: agps )
  • Competition for the central building of the BMW plant in Leipzig, 2002 ( architect: Zaha Hadid )
  • Competition for the ThyssenKrupp Quarter Essen, 2006 ( Architects: Chaix et Morel with JSWD )
  • Alexandria Library, Egypt ( Bibliotheca Alexandrina )
  • Sydney Opera House, Australia
  • Centre Georges Pompidou, France
  • Place Lalla Yeddouna, Morocco

Post Franz Heinrich Schwechten

Post Hendrik Petrus Berlage

Engineered design of Louis M. Cordonnier