Building a winning design

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A design and build competition is distinct from an ‘ideas only’ competition because the end goal is a successful built project.  In fact, the project’s success rests on turning the winning design into a completed development.  This is a complex process, which is dictated by a unique set of variables depending on each situation.  The project has to:

  • Be negotiated in the real world of the market (delivering to the specification of the competition while purchasing land and building the winning design).
  • Fit into others’ timetables including designers, developers and the local community.
  • Enter into very formal processes; for example, council consenting, legal issues, land ownership issues.

The actual size, form and function of the finished development will need to be decided in consultation with the Council, design competition stakeholders and the prospective developer(s).  To some extent, much of this can be covered off in the competition rules, but there are always negotiations around specific variables that will be required.

This stage involves detailed feasibility and market analysis of the most promising proposals along with agreements being reached about ownership, incentives and development partners.

Once the winning participant has been chosen, there needs to be a formal process where the competition organiser and lead negotiator secures commitment of the developer - and confirms finance so that the winning developer, designer and builder can deliver the winning scheme in partnership.

Main activities

  • Once the winning design has been chosen, confirm the design scope and feasibility that has been discussed as part of the judging process.
  • The development partnership with the winning team then needs to be legally formalised through specific contracts and legal work.
  • Consider how to influence and direct the development outcomes to ensure that what has been proposed in the competition gets built. This might be achieved through covenants or development outcomes with key performance indicators (KPIs).

Think about:

  • Financing agreements for the land and construction.
  • Insurance.
  • Marketing and pre-sales of the development units.
  • Taking account of any urban design review processes or special planning considerations and/or community consultation.Obtaining the appropriate resource and building consents.


The development agreement

A key aspect of taking the winning design through to construction will be a development agreement.  This is formalised contract with the developer to deliver the winning design in return for any conditions on the land.   Any development agreement will have to have the specifics relating to the individual situation, but think about the following:

  • Identify and define the piece of land upfront in the agreement. Clearly define how much is paid for the piece of land and when it is being paid for. If it is a staged payment process then clearly identify who owns the land in each stage.
  • Set out what things the owner of the land will do - for instance, any specific requirements that land use consent will be given or that development contributions will be made or that title will be given.
  • Provide a very clear timeframe for development, though this may be negotiated with the developer.
  • Outline a clear design and specification for development.
  • Set out any specific interactions between the land owner and developer throughout the process (e.g. to cover post occupancy evaluation surveys etc.) and any support that might be offered by the council / land owner (marketing of inner city living, events etc.).
  • Think carefully about how much you are contracting or committing the lead organisation / land owner to do (e.g. Council). Be absolutely clear as to who does what, when and how - must avoid vagueness.
  • Provide remedies and allowable tolerances for changes - what happens when and if developer goes bust? What happens if the relationship breaks down? How will this be managed?


Getting construction underway

  • Finalise and confirm phasing of the development construction with the development team.
  • Develop construction contracts and tendering processes.
  • Let construction contracts.
  • Building development.
  • Progress reporting / monitoring KPI’s.

Don’t forget post-construction evaluation…

Rate the performance of the buildings and neighbourhood through rating tools

Logo, Homestar

Logo, Beacon

Follow up on tenant experience, satisfaction and needs, and report back.

Undertake a Post Occupancy Evaluation to ensure the scheme’s success - for an example, see other Beacon post-occupancy evaluations:

Share lessons learned to assist others


We invite you to submit feedback to improve this toolkit in the future:

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