NonA Weekly | Premium: HOW TO WIN AT ARCHITECTURE BY WINNING COMPETITIONS
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Dear readers and friends,
Welcome to the very first newsletter of our new series called “How to Win at Architecture”.
In this series, we will explore tricks and strategies to help you reach your professional objectives and succeed as a designer.
Sounds interesting right? Well, we very much hope so.
In the coming months, we will borrow insights from other disciplines, useful design tools and tips from top professionals to share with you once a week in a dedicated newsletter.
This newsletter will be for paying users only, but just for today, we will share some knowledge for free. And why not do so with our best expertise: Design Competitions?
We will not lie to you, there is no perfect recipe for winning competitions. But after organizing more than 25 we can definitely share some good insights to bring the odds in your favour.
// FIRST: POSITION YOURSELF IN RELATION TO YOUR COMPETITORS
A competition is, by definition, full of competitors, but there are very few winners. One, most of the time.
Banal, I know, but bear with me.
Generally, in design competitions, 80% of the projects address the same 2 or 3 strategies. There is a reason for it: those strategies are probably the most obvious, the most reasonable or simply the best.
Most designers focus on design, rather than competitors, and without really knowing it they end up in the 80% group, having to compete with the vast majority of participants around the same design solutions.
IF YOUR CONCEPT IS CRAZY BUT YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE PROPOSING IT, YOU ARE LIKELY TO GET SELECTED
Just think about it, where do you normally stand?
This is crucial because when you work on an early concept, you shouldn’t just think if it’s good or bad, but you should also consider how many more will do it and what are the chances that they will do it better than you.
Chances are that the jury and the preselection process will filter out most of the overlapping projects to get a variety of strategies in place.
If your concept is crazy but you are the only one proposing it, you are likely to get selected, at least in the early stages of the competition.
So, if you want to be shortlisted, either you are the best of the 80%, or you try to get creative and aim for the 20% out of the box. Up to you to choose where to stand.
Wanna know more?
This strategic thinking process is called “Positioning”, and throughout the next newsletters, we will review some interesting projects and explore further insights, learning from Business Strategy and Marketing some valuable lessons that we could apply to architectural practice.
// SECOND, GENERATE VALUE
Surprise, surprise…architecture is not value in itself.
We study, work, and often hang out with people that love and cherish design as much as we do. That’s great when it comes to getting inspired, but it might get tricky too.
We might end up getting confused and prioritize graphics and design solutions that appeal to our peers much more than they do to our potential clients.
So how to fix that?
Simple: remember who is paying for the building you are designing – fictional or real – and why. Once you have that clear, design a platform for what is valuable to them, and make that value as tangible as you can.
Use your project title, design solutions, numbers, indicators, images. Everything should focus on making that value evident at first glance.
USE ALL YOUR ARCHITECT TRICKS TO DESIGN SPACES THAT ALIGN WITH YOUR STORY WHILE MAKING IT TANGIBLE AND FASCINATING FOR YOUR CLIENT
Are you designing a library and your value is the incredibly high number of books it can contain?
Great! Call it “the house of 1.000.000 books”, explain where the extraordinary storing capacity comes from, explain how you solve the structural challenges of so many books, make beautiful visuals where books are everywhere.
Use all your architect tricks to design spaces that align with your story while making it tangible and fascinating for your client, aka the jury. In a competition, where the jury has to review lots of projects in a short time, having a clear and flashy story can be a great help.
More to come in our next newsletters.
In the coming months, we will borrow the workflow and principles of Design Thinking to go deeper into ways to generate and communicate a Value Proposition applied to architecture.
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Every week, Non Architecture brings you thought-provoking perspectives and insightful information on a variety of themes applied to Architecture.
Next week we will continue on this topic, where we’ll share 2 more tips on How to Win Competitions.
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