Demonstrating Value in an Architectural Tender

Oct 15, 2021Bid Writing, SME Champions, Tender Writing

The announcement of the RIBA Stirling Prize winner for 2021 has illustrated perfectly how much value the vision of architects can bring to the creation of public and private spaces. Each of these entries had a unique concept that was executed to have a real and lasting impact on the building users and the communities around them. We’re sure that when the architects met with the buys and presented their vision to the buyers, they were able to get this message across during a presentation.

But what if you haven’t got that far yet? What if you’re an architecture firm submitting your first architectural tender, or you’re applying for a place on a framework or DPS? Public Procurement is a well-structured system of checks and balances, with standard questions that are looking for measurable outcomes. So, how can you talk about what you do in a meaningful way when completing an architectural tender?

The Value of Case Studies

A standard question on any procurement is the one about experience. It’s the place where you get to explain the work that your business has done in the past to demonstrate that you can deliver what is being asked of you. You may be asked to supply references, case studies, or a combination of both. Think carefully about which projects you should choose for this; as tempting as it might be to talk about your latest project, you need to match what you’ve done in the past with the requirements of this client.

If you’re writing a case study from scratch, then make a list of the things that you know the client is looking for and see how you can match those on past projects. Case studies can back up more than just the design elements, they can also be used to share anecdotes about the project to demonstrate your great customer service, or how you were able to save the organisation money or hit their environmental targets.

A good case study also gives you the opportunity to show the added value that a creative architect brings to every project, and the best way to reinforce this to the evaluators of an architectural tender is to ground it in something concrete.

Grounding your Vision

To demonstrate what we’re talking about, let’s take a look at the finalists of the Riba Stirling Prize this year and see how we can convert those concepts into something measurable that might win extra points on an architectural tender.

Cambridge Central Mosque

This year’s People’s Vote winner is a breath-taking community building that draws inspiration from mosques both ancient and modern, from all around the world. Designed by Marks Barfield, the building brings together traditional British and Muslim design, and has spaces that can be used by the entire community in addition to the sacred space of the mosque itself. This has developed a sense of community pride both within and outside the Muslim community – increasing community cohesion.

Windermere Jetty Museum

Rowan Seaford of Carmody Groarke talked about how the museum had been designed to be ‘intentionally atmospheric’ which enhances the visitor experience, leading to rave reviews and Instagram-able moments. Located in one of our national parks, the use of sustainable materials and designing in zero-waste were also important – with Net-Zero becoming increasingly important this will be a priority for architectural tender evaluators.

Tintagel Bridge – Ney & Partners

Accessibility was a key issue for this site, as the previous access was via lots of steps preventing wheelchair and pushchair users from having easy access and limiting visits from people with limiting injuries. The redesign is an entirely flat and accessible route from car park to castle, opening up this attraction to many more visitors, increasing revenue.

Kingston University London Townhouse

The student experience is key to tertiary education providers, with the top universities vying to score highest each year in the Student Academic Experience Survey. Grafton Architects delivered on the brief to create an open space that students would feel they could use however they liked and were the overall prize winner for 2021 as a result!

Key Worker Housing, Eddington, Cambridge – Stanton Williams

Designed to provide housing for university staff, the development includes shops, a school, a hotel, and apartment buildings which have specifically designed to create a sense of community through shared community spaces. Belonging is one of the most fundamental human needs, and having that need met will translate to happier, healthier, staff for the University.

15 Clerkenwell Close

Groupwork designed this building with a stunning stone exoskeleton, which means that the space inside is totally reconfigurable. All the internal walls can be moved, giving this mixed-use office and residential space boundless opportunity to change with time. It’s also topped with a rooftop garden that has flourished, supporting the health and wellbeing of building users.

Responding to an Architectural Tender

Architects can deliver tremendous value through their choices in the design of any building, but we know that it isn’t always easy to communicate that to evaluators. We hope that the above has given you some idea of how to take your concept and anchor it in measurable outcomes that evaluators are looking for.

But, if you’d like some additional support in completing an architectural tender, we can helpl! We have extensive experience of tendering within the built environment, and we’d love to be able to help you articulate the measurable benefits of your designs. Get in touch today to find out more.

Adrian Corcoran

Adrian Corcoran is Managing Director and Founder of Bid for Success. Passionate about working with great businesses to win them new work, she and the Bid for Success team are here to help you with your bidding and work winning needs.

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