31 Cities of Design adopt general principles for endorsing and disseminating calls for participation in design competitions or awards within the UCCN

August 7, 2018

At the XII UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) Annual Meeting, held in Poland from June 12 to 15, 2018, the Design members of the network agreed on a set of general principles for endorsing and disseminating calls for participation.

With opportunities so abundant, a great many calls for applications (prizes and awards), ideas competitions, project competitions (including turnkey production), calls for papers (conventions, seminars), and international calls for participation (exhibitions, trade fairs) are sent out year-round by the approximately 180 UCCN member cities, inviting other members to share the information within their communities and urge participation by them.

The UNESCO Cities of Design have a duty to act in an exemplary manner, both in how they invite design professionals to compete and with respect to the conditions of participation they offer. What such invitations have in common is that they all involve designers competing with each other and a process for evaluating the submissions. Creative professionals must invest time, resources and talent in responding to the invitations. To ensure that such initiatives are conducted successfully and ethically, certain principles must be adhered to.

At the initiative of the Ville de Montréal’s Bureau du design, the 31 UNESCO Cities of Design reached agreement on a set of shared regulations, drawing inspiration from best practices established by international professional organizations, including the World Design Organization (WDO), the International Council of Design (Ico-D), the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) and the International Union of Architects (IUA), the regulations hinge on the following four major principles:


  • The selection process is stated.
  • The jury composition is known ahead of time (unless prohibited by the regulations in force in the country).
  • The majority of the jury is made up of experts in the field being evaluated (i.e., design, architecture).
  • A jury report is published after the results have been announced.

In the specific case of project competitions:

  • The brief is the same for all competitors.


  • The call is published on designcities.net – i.e., accessible by all.
  • The publication date is the same throughout the network.
  • The conditions are the same for all competitors.
  • The timetable is appropriate (i.e., enough time to prepare a submission).
  • There are separate categories for professionals, students, and the general public and/or they are judged separately.
  • The organizers of the competition/award must provide an English translation of the call.


  • The work produced as part of the call is recognized, copyrights are respected according to existing legislation (in the territory where the call is launched), and authors are named in communications.
  • Remuneration (payment, prize, bonus, or promotion) is fair and measures up to the work expected of competitors.

In the specific case of project competitions:

  • The winning team is awarded the mandate of carrying out the project.
  • The working conditions (remuneration, deadlines) meet with existing industry standards (in the territory where the call is launched).


  • Participation incentives are presented clearly.

In the specific case of project competitions:

  • The program (deliverables, design brief, scope statement) is well defined.
  • The participation rules are stated in a document that all competitors have access to (competition rules).

Mission program supported by the Bureau du design

Reminder : to promote participation by design practitioners in international calls for participation issued within the UCCN, the Bureau du design invites professionals listed in the Montréal designers directory to propose a mission program. Designers whose proposals are chosen by the selection committee will be entrusted with a representation mandate and awarded a contract for professional fees of up to $5,000 per firm. 

In addition, Montréal designers are urged to regularly consult the News feed at designcities.net, the subnetwork communication platform of the 31 Cities of Design, where invitations drawn up in compliance with these general principles are posted.



The competition is a design process through which several tangible proposals are compared to arrive at an informed selection.

  • Ideas competitions are used to gather input for a project owner’s thought process on often complex problems. They are aimed at encouraging competition among designers without resulting in the production of the winning concept(s).
  •  Project competitions are used to select a concept and professionals to carry out a project with well-known parameters and a well-defined program. The object is to have the winning team carry out the project they developed.


An award is a prize attributed to a production that stands out among the competitors or to a person in recognition for the excellence of their application (e.g., career, education).

Competition Rules

A competition document, including its appendices, that describes the subject of the competition, its objectives, stakeholders, and procedures, as well as the conditions under which submissions, proposals, team addition files, and presentations are prepared, presented, evaluated, and used.

Competition Program

A document, complementary to the Competition Rules, which provides first-stage competitors with the information, guidelines, and summary instructions they need to create a comprehensive submission or proposal that complies with the requirements of the Competition Rules