A design competition is one way to obtain the best solution to a particular design brief and is likely to promote interest in and publicise a project from inception to completion. Properly run, it may require more time and a larger budget than a conventional commission but due to the preparation and pace, a competition is also likely to provide for a more measured approach and a wider testing of the brief. Competitions also create the opportunity for lesser-known practices to be commissioned, as well as publicity for both the client, the project and the practices taking part.
Competitions should follow recognised and accepted guidelines to ensure the process is transparent and fair to all parties. The Cape Institute for Architecture endorses the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) competition rules as paraphrased by the International Union of Architects (UIA), particularly for major buildings. A two-stage competition may take a minimum of eight months and can be expensive.
Work to a professionally prepared brief and programme
Work under fair and equitable rules
Have their anonymous entries assessed by a qualified, impartial jury
Special, unique buildings, possibly with civic or urban significance
Those where the design solution may require a fresh approach
Where the site is of unique or special significance
Fast track projects
Those where the project may not be realised, or where financing has not been secured
Where there is insufficient funding for suitable prizes and the costs for undertaking a competition can not be met
Projects without a clear brief or programme and where the intention is to use the competition format incorrectly to provide this
Where the intention is to test options against an already selected design or where the principles of fairness are otherwise violated.
SAIA has issued guidelines on competitions, which can be viewed here SAIA Competitions Guidelines General PDF
Please contact the Institute if you are seeking advice on competitions.