Architecture Competitions: 5 Tips to Consider in 2019

Architecture is indelibly linked to competitions as they democratize our profession and allow everyone to take part in important projects. But they can be both time and energy consuming, and most of them may even require you to spend some money to participate. Here's a checklist of important tips to go through before submitting your next project, I hope you find them useful! 

Visualisierung Zürich © Render4tomorrow, Jan Kinsbergen

The 30-Second Rule

Do you remember the international design competition for the new Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki? Did you know that more than 1.700 proposals were submitted? It's hard to imagine the jury in front of all those layouts hanging on the walls. How many of them did pass the first 30-second test? Unfortunately, just a few did.

And here goes our first tip: Always ask yourself if the jury will be able to get the main idea of your project in just 30 seconds. If not, spend some time on this before zooming in since details will only matter once you have passed the first screening.

Design your layouts for various distances

Great visual content in your architectural competition boards is crucial so let’s put ourselves in the position of a jury in the worst-case (but usually common) scenario, in which your boards will hang on a wall together with a few dozens more, one next to the other. We’ll call our first layout “Hey there, Iook at the wonderful project we’ve been working on.” Its unique purpose will be to make judges stop walking and get closer to your board so it must contain a big and remarkable image along with an illustrative drawing that shows a glimpse of what your project idea is about.

Before submitting your project, take five steps back and look at your first board. Is it sufficiently compelling and worth stopping to look at? Please feel free to drop us a line if you need some help in this regard. 

The importance of references

Never ever start designing your projects from scratch. Sometimes, this road can be an endless, time-consuming and frustrating process. Instead, always remember what Pablo Picasso said: "Good artists copy, great artists steal." There are many projects out there to start working from so, gather a few and start envisioning what you'd like your project to look like.    

Don't forget to invite other architects to criticize your project and ask them to be as honest and sincere as possible. You better be criticised by your colleagues rather than by the jury.  

Set realistic goals and go for them

  Think about what information you really need to explain your project, take a pen and a piece of paper and sort it by importance. Put the most relevant information in the first board, give it a larger size and prioritize your efforts accordingly. Having the layout of your panels ready from the very beginning will make you have a clear goal and things are always more bearable when you can see the end.   

How to always win an architectural competition

Let's be honest, nobody knows with absolute certainty how to win an architectural competition, but one thing is for sure: you can make it always be a win if you are able to forget about winning or losing and, instead, you put all your efforts in creating something worth being introduced to your potential clients. Take this opportunity as something that might attract the attention of future clients so it will never have been a waste of time. The best part is that sometimes you can even win.

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