The Quandaries of Design Developer Competitions

Christian Koch, Stefan Christoffer Gottlieb, Magnus Rönn, Anna Braide

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingArticle in proceedingResearchpeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 37th Annual ARCOM Conference
EditorsLloyd Scott, Chris Neilson
Number of pages10
PublisherARCOM - Association of Researchers in Construction Management
Publication date2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event37th Annual ARCOM Conference, Association of Researchers in Construction Management Conference - Glasgow / Virtual, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Sep 20217 Sep 2021
Conference number: 37


Conference37th Annual ARCOM Conference, Association of Researchers in Construction Management Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityGlasgow / Virtual


  • Design developer competitions
  • Dilemmas
  • Innovation
  • Sustainability


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