Young Architect Guide: 5 Reasons to Enter Design Competitions

Former OMA and BIG employee Bennett Oh is the creator of Archi Hacks, a platform dedicated to architecture visualization, portfolio, and design tips and tricks for students and professionals.

Organizations host architectural competitions to find the best designs for their projects. You may be wondering, “why would anyone put in the time and effort to work on something that may never be awarded or realized?” However, there are a number of reasons why competitions can be beneficial for you even if you don’t win. So we put together a list of reasons why you should consider entering competitions.

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1. They offer you the freedom to design your dreams.

Competitions often stand on a hypothetical premise. Organizers are hoping to gather the widest breadth of ideas for the given site. In other words, they are not looking for the most ordinary proposal. As long as you are fulfilling the baseline functional requirements, the rest is up to you! Design your heart out, and who knows, perhaps your entry will be the chosen one.

2. They provide the opportunity to experiment and improve.

Oftentimes at work or school, there is little next to no leeway to experiment with unconventional ideas and representation methods. The risk of investing time and effort, only to get unwanted results is sometimes too high for formal projects. Competitions might be the perfect test rat for your radical concepts and visualization techniques. Many architectural innovations occurred during competitions due to the special nature of this format.

3. They offer opportunities for international recognition and validation.

Competitions tend to draw attention from the public media. Depending on the prestige of the competition, the winning architect can become an instant world star. For most competitions, the bottom line covers exposure to potential future clients, and establishing your presence in the industry. As Phineas T. Barnum once said, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” and competitions can certainly place you on either side of history.

4. They provide extra motivation to produce excellent work.

Knowing that there are others competing for the same prize is a great motivation to work hard, and produce excellent work. As a result, you may achieve quality of work you may not have achieved had you worked on your own.

5. They’re fun!

Last but not least, enter architecture competitions for the joy of sports. There is something motivating about competition for the first place with talents around the world. When the competition is over, you can marvel at other entrants’ creativity.

Feel like entering some competitions? Check out this video for our favorite websites!

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In our future articles, we’ll discuss:

  • Where to discover competitions and which ones to enter
  • How to find the time and energy to pursue one
  • Maximizing your chance to win that competition

If you found this guide helpful, make sure to check out the ArchiHacks’ YouTube and Instagram for tips and tricks for young architects!


Check out every amazing winner and commended entry in the inaugural One Drawing Challenge here. Interested in participating this year? Register for the 2020 edition of the competition now:

Enter the 2020 One Drawing Challenge