5 ways to be a grinner on Awards Night
And the award goes to... you!
The Architecture Awards season is here again and picking up an award on the night is a great reward for the hard work you put into your project. It's also great advertising, a professional feather in your cap and a boost to office morale. But there's nothing worse than getting dressed up for the night, settling in for an (expensive) awards evening only to leave the ceremony empty handed.
Here are 5 things you can do to prepare for awards night, to maximise your chance of taking home a prize.
1. Understand the core criteria and talk to it
To keep things fair, the awards jury have a set of core criteria they use to assess your entry. And just like school or uni, where you'd be a dunce to overlook the rubric, take note of the core criteria and try to cover each point in your written submission. Even (loosely) follow the criteria in your presentation to make the jury's job as easy as possible. Because the easier it is for them to tick boxes, the more likely you are to make it to the shortlist.
2. Time Your Professional Photography Perfectly
The awards jury will visit your project if it's shortlisted, so your aim is to make the them desperate to visit. This is where the info you provide in your submission should meet all the criteria and intrigue the jury. But most architects are visual thinkers, so you want to make sure your images also captivate the jury. You can do this by ensuring your photographs are taken a precisely the right time. You want to be sure your project is the right combination of shiny and new and liveable and lived-in. Many architectural photographers reckon the golden window is 9-12 months after practical completion. Why? Because that gives enough time for the landscape to soften
3. Start Promoting your Project Early
Get pics and a brilliant description up on your website, get it set up on BowerBird, get it up on social media and submit it to as many publications as you can. (As a side-note here, don't limit your project's publicity by committing to an exclusive with a print magazine. Sure, it's flattering to see your hard work in the glassy pages of your fave mag, but it can take months for the project to be published and by then you might have missed build up to the awards and your project will be left languishing in the shadows.) Start promoting your project as early as possible (even showing progress shots on your website and Insta as it's being designed and built) to build the excitement and awareness of your project. An evocative, catchy and (ideally) witty name also helps in this case (think King Bill or New Academic Street). Because, remember, awards juries are people too. And if they've been following your progress this whole time? They'll be excited to see it in real life.
4. Submit in Multiple Categories
Don't be afraid to submit your project in several categories where appropriate. Categories that commonly overlap with other categories include Small Project Architecture, Urban Design, Interior Architecture and Heritage. For example, a small pavilion project could find a home in the Small Project category and also the Urban Design category. Just make sure that you customise your entry to suit each category. Consider using different hero images to make it as relevant to the category as possible, create a different presentation for each category and definitely revise the awards entry text to tell a story specific to each category. It seems like double dipping, but taking the extra time to present your project in a different light for each category you're entering it in shows that it's suited to the category and you're not just trying to game the system.
5. Polish Your Written Entry
Along with your photos, your written submission is the key to a successful entry. The jury will refer to your writing as they deliberate. If you can clearly and succinctly (that means no archispeak) outline the concept behind your project and how the final building resolves the client's needs, responds to existing conditions and ultimately benefits the wider community, then you've nailed virtually all of the core criteria and made the jurors' lives much easier. Spend time polishing your written entry to ensure it's as clear and informative as possible and you're well on your way to being short-listed and being all smiles on awards night.