Sustainable Design, Innovation, and Climate Change: Design Developer Competition as Governance and Response to Future Challenges
Other conference contribution, 2023

The paper discusses a design developer competition in Sweden. The competition is organized by the Norrköping municipality and has been conducted as a joint effort by the public authority, academia, and private companies. The task was to design and build rental apartments. The winning designs are intended to be implemented in an agreement between the developer and the municipality. The paper will focus on the benefits and drawbacks of early steering in housing design through developing a research-supported competition program for sustainable design and innovative solutions for reducing energy use and climate impact, including the response to these challenges by the winning design team.

Steering Principles
The paper adopts a simple model of municipal governance for the competition process. The model is based on four principles. The first is steering by competitor (design team). The organizer has invited companies to submit expressions of interest along with reference projects and company information, working methods, and an organizational structure for the project indicating professional responsibility for architecture, energy, and climate impact. After prequalification, five out of twelve multidisciplinary design teams were selected for the competition. The second principle is steering by competition program. In this case, the municipality requires the selected design teams to produce design proposals according to a competition program that specifies objectives, delivery demands, and judging criteria. Research-based appendices have been added for descript-tions of design strategies that support social sustainability, templates for making climate declarations and presentations of energy solutions, information on circularity (including recycling), and innovative aspects of the proposal. The third principle is steering by design. The jury identifies the overall best solution. Two external experts have been added to a jury of in-house professionals (civil servants) employed at the municipality. The power of picking a winner is thus shared with “outsiders.” The developer behind the winning design will be granted access to the site according to the competition program and can implement the proposal after agreement with a municipality. A land allocation agreement has been signed. The resulting contract to transfer ownership of the site to the winning developer is not included in this study.

Aim and Result
The paper has an explorative approach. The aim is to describe and critically examine the first steps in a design developer competition: 1) invitation and prequalification, 2) programming the compe-tition task and constructing design teams, and 3) identifying good solutions and articulating the motivation for the selection of the winning design. The findings in the case study are presented in nine specific conclusions from the process of inviting and selcting design teams to programming the competition and eventually singling out the proposal the the best overall solution. Regarding climate footprint, energy, circularity, and design for flexible apartments, the competition can be seen as successful.

climate declaration

smart energy solution



sustainable design




Magnus Rönn

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Building Design

Christian Koch

Halmstad University

Anna Braide

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Building Design

The 6th Nordic Challenges Conference
Oslo, Norway,

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Subject Categories



Areas of Advance

Building Futures (2010-2018)

More information

Latest update

7/9/2024 1