Organizing standards
Design competition benefits
Competition guidelines
Organizing standards

Organizing standards


The design competition is a selection procedure which aims to find the best proposal for a project that a client would like to develop. By “clients” we refer both to Contracting Authorities – public institutions and to private Promoters. A well-organized design competition offers the good practice framework through which better architecture can be achieved from a conceptual, aesthetic, and technical point of view. Design competitions may be organized for a new building or for the rehabilitation and extension of an existing one, for an architectural ensemble, public spaces, parts of cities or entire cities. Moreover, design competitions can effectively address some situations that require a maximum of innovation.

Organizing a design competition involves the coordination of several elements, of which the most important are:

  • the correct assessment of the necessary resources through a transparently justified cost analysis – a contract and prizes value correctly assessed in relation to the requirements of the contract,
  • a well drafted Competition Brief, accompanied by substantiation studies, which comprehensively describe the objective,
  • a Jury made up of a majority of nationally and internationally recognized architects, as well as professionals with complementary specializations, who analyze the projects comparatively, establishing a final ranking and a winner,
  • a clear, fair, and transparent procedure in all its aspects, from the launch of the competition to its completion,
  • ensuring the anonymity of the participants in the procedure.


Having over 15 years of experience in organizing competitions, The Romanian Order of Architects – OAR can become the necessary partner in conducting any design competition. OAR’s interest is related to the architecture policy it promotes, which aims to increase the quality of the built environment by increasing the level of professional competence, competitiveness, education, and public involvement. The design competitions organized by OAR follow the Competition Guidelines of the International Union of Architects – UIA, the provisions of the International Recommendations for Architecture and Town Planning Design Competitions adopted in the UNESCO General Conference in 1956, revised on November 27, 1978, the Good Practices Guide for Design Competitions drafted by OAR and published in 2018, and in compliance with the provisions of the law in force regarding the award of public procurement contracts. At the same time, design competitions are organized as independent procedures according to art. 105 lit. a) of Law no. 98/2016 on public procurement, following that subsequently, based on the provisions of art. 104 para. (7) of the same law, the design services contract shall be awarded to the winning bidder, following a negotiated procedure without prior publication of a contract notice.

The Romanian Order of Architects organizes design competitions that comply with the international standards for organizing competitions. The competitions’ good practice standards guarantee the quality of the competition outcome, both for the client and for the participants.


The “design competition” notion alone offers no guarantee for the quality of the procedure’s result. Beyond the great cultural significance of design competitions, the path from idea to execution must respect a series of exigencies. The role of these exigencies, which OAR calls standards, is not just that of promoting good competition practices, but also to underpin a good professional practice framework following the nomination of the winning project.

A well-organized design competition prevents difficult situations often encountered in a project’s design and execution stages. One the one hand, such situations can directly affect our cities – through the implementation of a project heavily altered by compromise, if a radical change in the implementation budget following the design stage occurs, changing the winning project from an architectural point of view. On the other hand, the public and professional trust in the design competition institution can be directly affected if the winning project is not implemented. Preventing such situations, the standards that OAR supports and promotes in the organization design competitions are as follows:


  • The contract for the design services by which the procedure’s objective shall be achieved will be awarded to the winner of the competition. The contract clauses shall be consistently adapted for the design services and correlated with the Competition Documentation (Competition Brief, Competition Rules Financial Proposal, etc.).
  • The value of the design services contract must correspond to the complexity of the objective, be correctly assessed in relation to the requirements of the contract and be competitive on the market to be a motivating argument for participation in the competition. To have a wide participation in international competitions, the value should be attractive to all participants, regardless of the country in which they operate.
  • The prizes must correspond to the requirements of the competition and the objective’s complexity to be attractive for participating in the competition, regardless of the country of origin of the future participants. To ensure a generous participation, at least 3 prizes will be awarded; preferably also mentions, with correctly calibrated values.


  • The jury will consist of professionals recognized at a national and / or international level, will be independent, autonomous, and sovereign, to provide a guarantee of a successful result and to give participants confidence in the professionalism of the jury. It is mandatory that the Jury will be appointed before the launch of the procedure, as it contributes decisively to attracting participants, giving them confidence in the fairness of the procedure. No changes are allowed to the composition of the Jury after the launch of the procedure, which could lead to situations of incompatibility with potential participants and the annulment of their effort up until that date.
  • Compliance by the Contracting Authority (CA) with the quality hierarchy established by the Jury is mandatory, as it is the result of a selection in which a representative of the CA also participates in addition to the professionals.


  • Not every architectural program can become the subject of a competition and not every brief is suitable for any type of competition. If necessary, the professionals drafting the competition brief shall report this aspect to the CA.
  • Drafted by outstanding professionals. They will translate the intentions of the CA into a formula correctly adapted to the given situation and aiming at a real long-term collective benefit.
  • Well-substantiated by studies, technical investigations, surveys, clarification of the legal situation. These are essential elements to obtain quality projects in the competition, but also to provide a correct and informed starting point for the design process.


  • The anonymization procedure must be strictly followed in accordance with the procedures of the Reception Secretariat and the Technical Commission and clearly mentioned in the Competition Rules. The participants’ identity shall be known only after all members of the Jury sign the Jury Report, by opening the sealed envelopes (according to art. 109 paragraph (3) of Law no. 98/2016 on public procurement).


  • The quality of a competition and implicitly of the received (and winning) projects depends on the correctness of the participation conditions such as: offering an adequate time for designing the projects (minimum 60 days), clear eligibility conditions, compliance with specific procedures, etc.


2 Design competition benefits