Design Contest Guidance
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Design Contest Guidance

ProjectCompass has published New Design Contest Guidance for the appointment of Architects and Design Teams – providing a comprehensive route map for successful design contests.

The aim of the guide is to introduce to the UK the new practices outlined below and help open the market to this quality based appointment process further. The guide is for private and public authorities, and their architects and design teams – collating all invaluable information into one easy to access document.

Innovations outlined within the Project Compass Design Contest Guidance include:

  • Clarifying the distinction between design contests and other forms of architectural competitions.
  • The recommended routes for private and public clients wishing to undertake a design contest.
  • Generally open design contests are recommended.
  • How parallel commissioning works
  • Sortition selection (equal chance method of selection)
  • Wild card bidders
  • How pepper pot design contests work.
  • Appointment of lot contracts by design contests
  • Appointment of framework contracts by design contest
  • It addresses how to mitigate the risk clients frequently perceive when young practitioners win design contests, by use of design contests with the negotiated procedure without prior publication.
  • Guidance is given on how to organise fully digital design contests.

For public clients the guidance:

  • Evidences and summarises reasons why design contests have been the most successful procedure for the production of our most cherished, loved and best value buildings
  • The guide shows how public authorities can embed design contests in their procurement procedures, the benefits of this and why they should consider it
  • Highlights for public clients how design contests can provide the most effective procurement route to align with the requirements of the European Directive 2014/24/EU, and in England Wales and Northern Ireland the National Planning Policy Framework and the Public Contracts (Social Value) Act


This guide does not cover other competitive routes to procurement in the public and private sector, or where design consultants are employed as sub-contractors.

Project Compass CIC will follow this guidance with an automated online design contest system and will be developing further guidance on other forms of private and public competitions will become available in due course.