Inside the Jury Room: A Report on the Theory and Practice of Selecting a Winning Design
Report, 2024

This report discusses and theorizes the selection of winners in two architectural competitions held by the City of Norrköping in a format known in Sweden as “design developer competitions.”  The City organized the competitions in cooperation with Architects Sweden (a trade union and professional organization) and researchers affiliated with Chalmers University of Technology and Halmstad University. The first was an invited competition that included four design teams selected after prequalification by the organizer. The second was an open competition among six design teams. In both, the public organizer sought design proposals with climate- and energy-smart architecture, flexible layouts, and affordable costs. To achieve these objectives, the competitions were intended to serve as professional laboratories and experimental arenas that would support creativity and new thinking in architecture and construction.

The aim is of this is to critically reflect and theorize about how qualified jurors have succeeded in identifying the best design solutions in the two Norrköping competitions. Through a close reading of transcribed field notes from meetings inside the jury room, the authors propose a judging theory that shows how professional jurors choose winning designs. Some of the fundamental dilemmas that confront jurors are highlighted. The idea behind this theorizing is that professionals making qualified assessments must go through certain critical steps for ethical reasons. In this model, finding the best solution is influenced by four factors: (a) context and policy, (b) design proposals and competition site, (c) judging process and competition program, and (d) selection of the winner in the jury report. The theorizing describes and explains how professionals act in fulfilling their assignment of identifying a winner. The theory represents a model of general interest for jury work in architecture and urban design competitions.

Design developer competition

winning design

judging proposals

finding the best solution


Magnus Rönn

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Building Design

Anna Braide

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Building Design

Christian Koch

Halmstad University

Design developer competition as tool for climate adaptation in building -innovative solutions for dwellings

VINNOVA (2021-02466), 2021-11-01 -- 2023-10-31.

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Innovation and entrepreneurship

Areas of Advance

Building Futures (2010-2018)

Subject Categories


Rapport ACE / Institutionen för arkitektur och samhällsbyggnadsteknik, Chalmers tekniska högskola: 2024:1



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