5 Tips For How To Win An Architecture Competition

Entering an architecture competition is rewarding and satisfying, no matter how well you place amongst the final entries. That being said, everyone likes to win. So here are a few tips to remember if you want to win an architecture competition.

1. Set your goal / Why do you want to enter an architecture competition? 

Before you even begin researching architecture competitions, it’s important to set your goals for why you want to take part in one. They are a commitment, and will require a great deal of energy, effort, and time.

There are many great reasons why you should enter architecture competitions, from building your portfolio, to enhancing your critical thinking, to wanting to get some media attention for yourself or your practice. All great reasons, and you’re not just limited to one, but it’s important to keep your overall goals in mind. Bear in mind that if your only goal is to win the prize money, you’re more likely to be disappointed than if you had a genuine interest in the topic or in creating an innovative solution to the problem.

And while it doesn’t hurt to aim high, it will make the competition more rewarding if you have the right attitude from the start.

Red Square Tollerance architecture ideas competition winners Kiana Jalali, Alessandro Vitale, Matteo Pagani, Marco Merigo

Red Square Tollerance architetcure ideas competition winners - Kiana Jalali, Alessandro Vitale, Matteo Pagani, Marco Merigo // The competition challenged participants to design a temporary pavilion for the education of social, political and religious tolerance, to be erected in Russia’s Red Square, Moscow.

2. Choose the right architecture design competition for you (and your team)

For that matter, it’s also important to choose the right team for your competition. Architecture competitions are a great opportunity to supplement your professional or educational experience, but they can also be a welcome departure from your day-to-day work. Knowing your strengths and the strengths of your team will help you make a more informed choice about which architecture competition to enter.

Since competitions are typically either ideas competitions or project competitions - meaning they are either entirely conceptual or have the potential to result in an actual commission - this will be an vital deciding factor. Don’t let the fact that you’re not fully qualified stop you from entering a project competition. Should your design be selected as the winner, the next step is to work with the client and potentially a local architect to finalise the project plans.

Choosing the right competition is crucial in order to increase your chances of success, as is the selection of the right team. Ask yourself what kind of cooperation you’re looking for, are you looking for a leader, an organiser, a junior, a collaborator, or a person with a set of skills that you can learn from? With teams typically limited to four members, it’s imperative that each person be able to contribute in an equally-valued way.

Bee Breeders architecture competition

BEE BREEDERS is the leading architecture competition organiser who carries out fully inclusive organisation work for architecture project and architecture ideas competitions.

3. Don’t just meet the competition requirements, exceed them!

There will usually be recommended requirements for an architecture competition, a minimum function that your project design will need to fulfil. But don’t stop there. These are often guidelines, a starting point to get your creativity flowing.

Different competitions will place a different emphasis on the practicalities of your design. And while it can be fun and exciting to dream up the most elaborate creations, each competition will include a functional requirement that it is important to include. Logic and reason need not always be at the core of your project design, but don’t get so caught up in the aesthetics of your entry that you ignore its intended function.

Similarly, when entering an ideas competition, getting bogged down by the details will really hamper your creativity. If this were a real commission you would have to consider things like underground digging, height restrictions, cost, planning permission, access to power, and so on. But unless the competition brief has specifically asked for a solution to one of those problems, don’t take up space on your submission board covering it.

And on that topic…

4. Presentation is key

Each architecture competition could get hundreds of entries, and in order to stand out to the jury your presentation will need to be something special. In this regard, it can be helpful to work backwards, having a rough idea of what your submission boards will look like before you even start work on your project. Do some layout sketches, put in placeholder images and text frames in a blank page file as you work on your project. It can help you with the thinking process throughout, and helps as a sort of progress indicator as you work towards the submission deadline.

Use clear and attractive images that explain your concept and design, rather than including images simply for the sake of aesthetics. Think about how the jury will be evaluating the entries. With so many projects to assess within a short space of time, the jury will need to see the full vision of the project quickly and easily. With limited space to fill, make sure every image and item of text you include positively portrays your idea and grabs the jury’s eye.

Eruopean Velo Stops architecture competition honorable mention - "Velopod" (authors: Nick Butterfield, Tom Butterfield, Will Butterfield, Angela Butterfield)

Eruopean Velo Stops architecture competition honorable mention - "Velopod" (authors: Nick Butterfield, Tom Butterfield, Will Butterfield, Angela Butterfield)

5. Get an outside opinion

You will have spent hours, days, and weeks working on your project submission and so you will know every detail and thought process behind it. The jury will not. Asking a friend or colleague to look at your submission boards will help you make sure that they are being perceived how you want them to be.

Outside feedback on your presentation may provide new perspectives that will increase your chances of being selected by the jury panel, so be sure to ask for input sooner rather than later.

Ready to win your own architecture competition?

Now that you know what it takes to win an architecture competition it’s time to give it a go. Take part in any of our open architecture competitions and put your creativity to the test!

Open architecture competitions

  • Closest Deadline first
  • Project competitions first
    Selected winning projects have the potential to be constructed
  • Ideas competitions first
    Experimental competitions with the focus on pushing the boundaries of creativity
ideas COMPETITION
The Last Nuclear Bomb Memorial

Design a memorial that speaks to the cause of ending all nuclear weapons programs

Prize: MONETARY AWARD
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

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Dec 15
Jan 27
Apr 21
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ideas COMPETITION
Toronto Affordable Housing Challenge

Design affordable housing solutions for Toronto

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + PUBLICATION IN THE BOOK
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

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Dec 16
Jan 28
Apr 22
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project COMPETITION
Omuli Museum of the Horse

Reimagine a historical primary school into a museum for horses

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + CONSTRUCTION
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

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Dec 14
Jan 26
Apr 23
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ideas COMPETITION
SKYHIVE 2021 Skyscraper Challenge

Fourth annual competition to redefine the modern-day skyscraper

Prize: MONETARY AWARD
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

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Dec 17
Jan 29
Apr 23
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project COMPETITION
Sleeping Pods on a Cliff

Design a series of sleeping pods for a Portugal yoga retreat

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + CONSTRUCTION
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

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Dec 18
Feb 01
Apr 27
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project COMPETITION
Tiny Kiwi Meditation Cabin

Design a meditation space in New Zealand

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + CONSTRUCTION
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

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Dec 21
Feb 02
Apr 28
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project COMPETITION
Spirala Community Home

Create a community home for the Spirala Ecological Village

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + CONSTRUCTION
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

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Dec 22
Feb 03
Apr 29
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ideas COMPETITION
Berlin Techno Booth

Bring back techno music to the streets of Berlin by designing individual dance booths

Prize: MONETARY AWARD
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

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Mar 23
Apr 20
Jul 06
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ideas COMPETITION
Modular Home Design Challenge 2021

Design a modular dream home

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + PUBLICATION IN THE BOOK
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

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Mar 24
Apr 21
Jul 07
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essay COMPETITION
Essay: Modular Architecture

How modular design has impacted architecture?

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + PUBLICATION IN THE BOOK
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

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Mar 25
Apr 22
Jul 08
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ideas COMPETITION
Hospice - Home for Terminally Ill

Design a safe and supportive space for those struggling with a terminal illness

Prize: MONETARY AWARD
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

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Mar 30
Apr 27
Jul 13
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project COMPETITION
Romantic Cabin For Two

Design a romantic and secluded cabin for two in New Zealand

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + CONSTRUCTION
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

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Mar 31
Apr 28
Jul 14
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project COMPETITION
Monte d'Oiro Wine Hotel

Design a new hotel set within a beautiful Portuguese Monte d'Oiro vineyard

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + CONSTRUCTION
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

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Apr 01
Apr 29
Jul 15
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essay COMPETITION
Essay: Architecture of Illusions

Do you have something to say about illusions in architecture?

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + PUBLICATION IN THE BOOK
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

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Apr 02
Apr 30
Jul 16
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ideas COMPETITION
MICROHOME 2021 - Small living, huge impact!

Design a new concept of small-scale architecture

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + PUBLICATION IN MAGAZINE
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

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May 11
Sep 07
Nov 02
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project COMPETITION
Legendary Bird Home 2021

Design a bird home to fund wildlife charities

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + PRODUCTION
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

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May 11
Sep 07
Nov 02
Register now

ARCHITECTURE COMPETITIONS

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