Forming partnerships

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A design and build competition is a big project that relies on a successful multi-partner approach.  This will obviously vary from competition to competition but in most cases you will need:

  • Local council - imperative to identify suitable land and assist the project through the planning process. You will need buy-in from politicians and officers alike so it is exceedingly useful to have a friendly contact on the inside!
  • Central government agencies - lend authority and prestige to the project which helps to frame the competition and attract funding and assistance in-kind.
  • In each of the main organisations, a ‘champion’ will need to be identified and engaged.
  • Professional bodies (New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects, New Zealand Institute of Architects, Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand etc.) - provide crucial contacts and advice for the main competition and can act as a peer reviewers for the brief. They can also help to select suitable judges and provide technical assistance.
  • Tangata whenua and other stakeholders - communities who have an interest in the land should be identified and engaged. They may well join as champions with a shared vision for the outcome.
  • Industry - companies and individuals can be a source of funds and assistance in-kind throughout the project. Also provide excellent peer review and ‘reality checking’, which allows a design and ideas competition to evolve into a successful actual build on the ground.
  • Marketing and communications - can be provided in-house by the main partners or outsourced to a private agency, but it is vital to have a plan in place to get your message out there and maximise the benefits from the opportunities that arise.


Key first questions

Draw up a stakeholder map and use your contacts to identify suitable candidates to approach.  Identify gaps early on and start building relationships to plug them.

  • Who have you got and from where?
  • Who do you need to achieve your outcome from competition to build?
  • What do you need each partner to do to achieve your outcome?
  • What is the best way to engage each partner? (some may be contracted, some may just want brand recognition)
  • What is each partner’s motivation for engagement? Collectively, how does that play out in reaching project outcomes?
  • How will you manage conflict? Do you need a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in place? An MoU provides a degree of formality to the relationships and can add weight to the endeavour. It also helps to clarify roles and responsibilities to ensure that everyone works well together.


Roles to be played

  • Partner management. Ideally you should have someone to take on the role of engaging, understanding motivations of all partners and maintaining engagement (each partner getting and giving what was agreed)
  • Funding and support drive. You will need to identify a talented person who has a track record in generating buy-in and funding to support projects such as this.


Involving the professional institutes

Many design competitions are run in cooperation with the main design institutes and/or other professional bodies.  These organisations can provide great assistance in the delivery of the competition as well as ensuring that the competition abides by best practice.  The New Zealand Institute of Architects, for instance, has developed a set of guidelines for design competitions with a set of core rules that they suggest are followed if endorsement of the NZIA is sought.  They also outline a process for involving the profession in your competition.  The guidelines can be accessed on the NZIA website.

In addition, the New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects (NZILA) has also developed some core guidelines for running competitions for their members which are available on the NZILA website

Engaging with professional bodies and institutes also provides a source of advertising and endorsement of the competition that is particularly well targeted to the audience that you will be trying to attract.

Breathe logo

Breathe logo

Breathe was a partnership between:


logo, CCC

Logo, CERA

Logo, Ngai Tahu

Project sponsors:

Logo, NZ Steel

Logo, EECA


Project supporters:

Logo, Beacon

Logo, NZIA



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