Prizes and competitions

Prizes, prize competitions and calls for tenders may be of crucial importance for the development of an architect's practice. Competitions and calls for tenders are organised by principals because it is a great way of being able to choose from the best designs and of attracting excellent architects.


In terms of content, prizes, prize competitions and calls for tenders closely resemble one another, but what are the differences? Prizes are aimed at the appreciation of the oeuvre of an architect, but they may also be aimed at the development of an (up and coming) architect. Taking part in a competition or call for tenders can be good for an architect's development for several reasons, but it is also expensive, a lot of work, and besides you or the firm run the risk of not winning. There are practices that operate a 'no competitions policy' for this reason.

The difference between a competition and a call for tenders is connected, among other things, with what the principal is looking for: just an architect, an architect with a design, or just a design. A competition is often concentrated on the design. In a call for tenders the party that issues the call, such as a housing corporation, a collective private commissioning party (CPO) or the national government, is looking for an architect with a design.

A contest or tender can be held over several rounds which are first selected some designs or candidates for the next round. It sometimes happens that a contest or tender is not public, and that candidates will be invited to participate in a competition. Usually, a contest unpaid, sometimes a contract has a fee or honorarium.

The procedures of competitions and tenders are frequently monitored by agencies such as Centre for Design Contests. They provide solicited and unsolicited advice to clients.

Current overview
The Steunpunt Ontwerpwedstrijden of Architectuur Lokaal offers a good survey of the current competitions and calls for tenders and the procedures. Current competitions can also be found on Archined. The current competitions give a good picture of what the present themes are in architecture, landscape architecture and urban design, such as green architecture and recycling.

Prize competitions

In collaboration with around twenty European countries Europan organizes competitions in the field of architecture and urban development every two years. Using a common theme, “young and promising” architects can come up with ideas for innovations in the area of architecture, mainly housing. Europan supports the prizewinner in securing his/her (often first) design commission. The competition is open to architects from all over Europe who are under forty years of age and (in the Netherlands) who are registered in the architects’ register. 

Prix de Rome
The Prix de Rome is the oldest and largest incentive prize for young artists and architects (up to 35 years of age) in the Netherlands. The jury for the prize, which is connected to the Rijksakademie (State Academy), selects a maximum of four candidates for the final round, based on the works submitted and on interviews. As part of the competition these candidates create new works, on the basis of which the jury makes its final decision. Incidentally, architecture is not represented in every round. 

Prizes for young architects

“Up and coming talent” is often presented first via Archiprix. Each year the Dutch design schools select their best student plans for this prize. Starting point for the prize is the expectation that the participants’ talent will be an enrichment for the profession. Because there is no common assignment involved, the scale, the issues dealt with, and the method of presentation all vary according to the individual plan. A jury judges the submitted plans and awards the prizes and honorable mentions.

Archiprix International
Universities from all over the world can propose their best final year students for the Archiprix International. The purpose of the competition is to encourage the introduction of talented designers who are setting out in the professional world. It is an initiative of the Dutch academies of architecture, urban design and landscape architecture in Delft, Eindhoven, Wageningen, Amsterdam, Arnhem, Groningen, Maastricht, Rotterdam and Tilburg.

Rotterdam Maaskant Prize for Young Architects
Awarded since 1985 in odd years. It is an incentive for young architects, landscape architects or planners of 35 years or younger. The architectural work - studied or executed - is paramount. The award consists of a cash prize of €5,000, a certificate and a grant for publication.

Prizes for projects

Some architectural awards are focused on a project that has been realized in a given period, the most important are:

BNA Gebouw van het jaar
Prize intended to reinforce the cultural and social position of architects and architecture. Only members of the BNA can take part. The prize is awarded in various regions. 

The 'big' Rotterdam-Maaskant Prize
Biannual price for one or more persons who have distinguished themselves in a special way in the field of architecture, urban design and landscape architecture by publishing, teaching and / or research activities. The prize is awarded since 1978 in even years and consists of a cash prize of €25,000, a certificate and a grant for publication.

Abe Bonnema Architecture Prize
Biannual prize for the architect of a building that was completed in the Netherlands in the past two years and that in the opinion of an independent expert panel performance is of exceptional high architectural quality, inspires future generations and sets an example.

De Gouden Pyramide (The Golden Pyramid)
Empire Award for excellence in commissioning work in architecture, urban planning, landscape architecture, infrastructure and spatial planning. The Golden Pyramid is an initiative of the ministries I & M, Education and Interior. This award speaks volumes about the collaboration between client and designer.
Organizes the Young Architects Award and the Architect of the Year Award.

Oeuvre Prizes

There are also prizes for architects who have made a major contribution throughout their careers to the built environment and the discipline:

BNA Kubus
Oldest prize for an architectural oeuvre in the Netherlands.

Pritzker Architecture Prize
Oeuvre prize presented by the Hyatt Foundation to a living architect who has made a significant contribution to humanity and the built environment.

Other architecture awards

Throughout the country, there are also many regional architectural awards. In the region of Amsterdam for example these two:

Amsterdam - Arcam - Gold A.A.P.
Haarlem - Lieven de Key Penning

And there are also awards for the use of certain materials. These awards are often sponsored or organized by associations of manufacturers, the most important are:

Nationale Staalprijs
VKG Architecture