The quandaries of design developer competitions
Paper in proceeding, 2021

Public clients in Western countries, including Sweden are currently under pressure to create sustainable housing and urban environments and mitigate climate change. This calls for new types of societal planning and governance. In Sweden both architectural and design developer competitions is in use. In design developer competitions, the public client has allocated a particular piece of land, and requests responses to certain possibilities and limitations. The participants are developers or contractors who aim to develop business through winning the competition and constructing buildings on the land. The question is whether design developer competitions can deliver more sustainable housing at a fair cost. Theories of innovation, sustainable transition, and governance all contribute to the framework of understanding. The method is a critical reading and analysis of two design developer competitions scrutinizing them for sustainability aspects. All steps of the competitions, program, competition, jury verdict, and implementation, involve particular dilemmas for the actors. Sustainability aspects vary widely from singular to comprehensive solutions, reflecting a dilemma between creative designs versus controlled outcome. Competitions turns out to be less of an instrumental tool for societal planners with sustainability goals.


Design developer competitions




Christian Koch

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Construction Management

Stefan Christoffer Gottlieb

Aalborg University

Magnus Rönn

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Building Design

Anna Braide

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Building Design

Proceedings of the 37th Annual ARCOM Conference, ARCOM 2021


37th Annual Association of Researchers in Construction Management Conference, ARCOM 2021
Virtual, Glasgow, United Kingdom,

Subject Categories

Architectural Engineering

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


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