In 2021, Architectuur Lokaal published the Portfolio Competition Culture in The Netherlands 1993-2020, an updated inventory of the developments in the culture of design contests in the Netherlands, based on 80 contests that Architectuur Lokaal was closely involved.
Holding design contests is not an aim in itself. Contests are an instrument to come up with the best solutions for building and development problems. Those solutions do not necessarily have to be built results. They can concern design research, policy support, or principles for regional environmental visions. Or they can focus on offering young talent a chance to gain experience, or on involving residents and interested parties. But most of all, organizing a contest helps those who commission buildings or development to ensure they play their role as commissioning party as best they can. As a knowledge centre for building culture, Architectuur Lokaal is the only organization in The Netherlands to work continuously on the development of a culture of design contests for building and development work in the country – a role it has performed since 1993. The equally independent Helpdesk Architectural Commissions and Design Contests was founded at Architectuur Lokaal in 1997.
Achieving cultural change costs a lot of time, patience and perseverance. That is why Architectuur Lokaal has been working in a step-by-step and consistent way for the past 27 years to create an accessible methodology based on the practice of assignments and clients. The basis for this now widely supported methodology, called Kompas (Compass), was initially laid on the initiative of the Government Architect Tjeerd Dijkstra. Kompas was created on the strength of broad cooperation involving Architectuur Lokaal, the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG), umbrella organizations of designers, engineers, housing associations, building contractors and property developers, and with contributions from the central government in the area of cultural and spatial policy. The manuals are digitally available to everybody. It is not just about providing appropriate instruments, but about whether results are achieved, and if so what type of results. That is why Architectuur Lokaal also offers plenty of concrete support to all clients, both public and private, who plan to organize a design contest. This, too, is something no other organization in the Netherlands does. The type of support can vary from general information to full supervision of the procedure, as
has already been the case with dozens of contests.
Results and conclusion
Architectuur Lokaal published an inventory of the developments in the culture of design contests in the Netherlands, based on 80 contests that Architectuur Lokaal was closely involved. Other contests are seldom if ever documented, usually the internet pages of contests are taken offline after the event and information from the pre-digital era can no longer be traced. The core details of the contests in this portfolio have been taken from public information, published on the website of Architectuur Lokaal. Where possible, links refer to more information (competition briefs, submissions, jury reports).