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Yonatan Pick

Architecture Competitions

Competitions are an opportunity for architects, especially young firms, to design significant public buildings. Many architects have broken through by winning competitions, such as Zvi Hecker and Avraham Yaski in Israel, as well as Renzo Piano, Rem Koolhaas, and Bjarke Ingels abroad.
Preparing a proposal for a competition also allows architects to break away from their daily planning routine, free their minds, and develop more innovative concepts.

Why do we need architectural competitions?

Competitions create a situation where the client, the general public, and the architects all benefit.

The client benefits from a wide range of ideas and creative solutions to choose from, which doesn’t typically occur when a single architect handles the project. The competition procedure also contributes to public relations for the client and the project.
The public benefits from unique and high-quality buildings. Public buildings and public space are open to everyone’s use, so it is appropriate that their design process should also be transparent and open. Instead of repetitive buildings designed by a limited number of architects, the public competition process opens up to a variety of designers and trends in a transparent discussion.
The community of architects benefits from the promotion of professional, high-quality discourse and the cultivation of new talents.

While abroad – in Europe, the USA and the East – public buildings (and sometimes also private and commercial ones) are the product of architectural competitions, in Israel a large part of public buildings are still commissioned directly from a pool of individual design suppliers, and closed tenders are often chosen based on price rather than quality.

Another problem in Israel is that many times a competition is held, the winner is announced, but then the competition is canceled, and the project is shelved or handed over to another architect for further work.

Types of competitions:

A closed competition it’s when the client (usually a municipality or an institution) turns to a limited number of offices to submit proposals. In this type of competition, the client pays a certain amount to cover the costs of preparing the proposals and the winner gets the project.
Another type is an anonymous open competition. Any architect who meets the threshold conditions can enter. In these competitions, in addition to the actual project, financial prizes are given to the first places, and commendations are awarded for outstanding proposals.
The threshold conditions for submitting to the competition can be an architect’s license only. Or a requirement for the participants to present professional experience – a list of similar projects in recent years.
Such threshold conditions can significantly restrict the number of firms able to participate in certain competitions. This makes them in fact closed competitions.
In large projects, they sometimes combine an open phase A and a phase B to which selected offices are invited.

There are competitions to design actual buildings on specific sites, as well as conceptual competitions focused on researching certain topics.

How to promote the competitions in Israel:

 • A strong professional association is needed, with membership of all architects, that will take care of this matter.
 • Competitions should be institutionalized through law regulation concerning public buildings, mandating open tender processes.
 • Increase awareness of the issue among both decision-makers and the general public.
 • The judging process must be fair and transparent, free from conflicts of interest, and accompanied by the publication of a reasoned protocol based on predefined criteria.
 • At the end of the competition, all submissions should be publicly showcased either in an exhibition or on a website to enhance exposure.
 • Provide a suitable fee outlined in the competition agreement for the project.

Which competitions are worth entering?

 • Find out whether this is a project competition related to a specific site, concept competition for further development.
 • A worthy prize of at least NIS 50,000
 • A preparation period of at least two months for the proposal.
 • Clear and accessible competition documents, including a website, with graphic information, files and instructions.
 • Trustworthy competition organizer

How much does it cost?

High-quality renders are crucial when submitting to a competition, so ensuring they meet a high standard is essential. Simulations conducted by an external professional typically cost around NIS 7,000. Printing expenses are about 500 NIS. Sending materials abroad, if necessary, can cost around 1000 NIS. Considering the preparation time of one to two months, involving 1-3 architects in the office, even if not full-time, the total cost of submitting a competitive proposal is approximately NIS 30,000. Invest it wisely.

Where are architectural competitions held?

Links for competitions abroad:

Competition Archi

Links for competitions in Isreal:



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