Europan UK

Tackling the need for innovation and good design in housing, CABE ran the UK branch of Europan, the world’s largest housing design competition from 2004 to 2008.

Cities from Sheffield to Stockholm to Lisbon put forward their urban issues for discussion and solution by thousands of young design professionals.  In the UK, the project was in partnership with the Housing Corporation, English Partnerships, and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister / Dept of Communities and Local Government

What is Europan?

Europan is the worlds largest housing design competition, taking place across 21 countries in Europe.

Run every two years, this open anonymous competition provides design teams who are under 40 years old access to large scale urban and housing projects. This age group frequently has difficulties accessing large projects due to lack of track record. Housing sites are sponsored by local authorities and developer consortia for inclusion in the competition. A number of international events to discuss the issues facing urban areas in Europe accompany the competition process.

Where were the Europan sites in the UK?

CABE took part in Europan 8 and Europan 9. Six sites were put forward for the competition, and the winners are listed below

  • Europan 8: Stonebridge, London ; Milton Keynes; Oldham
  • Europan 9: City Waterside, Stoke-on-Trent; Skye Edge, Sheffield; Western expansion area, Milton Keynes

What were the results?


'A Forest in the City' was the winning design for Milton Keynes in Europan9. The winning team were Tom Russell Architects.

Europan UK was successful in receiving a good umber of high quality entries for each of the sites.  Winning schemes were then selected by independent juries consisting of site representatives, previous winners, and leaders in their field. Details of the wins can be found on the Europan Europe website.

A number of the projects have progressed, particularly in Stonebridge and Oldham, and have gained planning permission; design teams have also been commissioned by the site sponsors to deliver projects on other sites.  The exposure of Europan has positively helped some of the teams, who have subsequently developed into leading young practices in the UK. 

What did CABE provide for the competition?

Beyond the technical running of the competition, CABE also

  • Enabled the site sponsors to develop the good quality information, and design briefs, and gave site sponsors access to their equivalents in other countries
  • Delivered well attended ‘how to win’ seminars with prospective entrants to increase the quality of entrants addressing of sustainable urban design – street layout, parking, etc.
  • Provided mentoring for design teams developing their competition winning designs into construction projects, by experienced architects
  • Mounted exhibitions (for Europan 8 at CABE’s offices, for Europan 9 at New London Architecture) of the winning designs.

Further information

The Europan Europe website has full details of the winners in the UK sites, as well current and past competitions.

Why do design competitions?

Resulting learning from running numerous design competitions can be found in a selection of articles describing the benefit of design competitions by clients, promoters and winners of competitions, as well as practical hints.

CABE’s other work on competitions include Designs on Democracy, as well as guidance for the OJEU process.