Architecture marketers and communications staff will know that the first few months of each year are often consumed with writing awards entries. The AIA chapters call for submissions early in the year, when we’re feeling fresh (and less pressured) after the Christmas break.

The following tips will help you write a clear and considered awards entry, that hopefully results in a win! If you haven’t already, download our 2019 architecture awards calendar here too.

Make your point

Start your award submission with your strongest points – your key messages – first. Entries that win awards make it easy for jurors to see what makes the project exceptional. Bullet points are effective ways to make information stand out.

Detail your challenges

Maybe the client had a dramatic change in budget mid-way through the project. Maybe construction halted for a brief period. Maybe the site featured a particularly challenging slope. Whatever your challenges, mention how you overcame them. It shows the jurors your design rationale and sensibility.

Know your audience

You should always write for your audience, whether it’s prospective clients or awards jurors.

The copy jurors write for their own projects is a good indication of what appeals to them. You’re not looking to copy or emulate, you’re looking to understand what appeals to them and then to apply that knowledge – where appropriate – to your entry. Your copy must be authentically yours.

Avoid jargon and clichés

The golden rule of awards writing? Avoid exclusive archi-speak and clichés. “Considered space” and “materiality” are the vocabulary equivalent of hollow carbs.

Don’t tell the jurors the spatial relationship between indoors and out is enhanced by a fluid correlation of interior and semi-exterior zones. Instead, tell the jurors how you met the client’s need for versatile open spaces with the addition of large sliding doors and flooring that continues from the living area to the veranda. Delete redundant words or descriptions and use your word limits to greatest effect.

Add details to create a clear picture

If your award entry doesn’t include images, does your text paint a mental image of the project for the jurors?

Describe the materials clearly and explain why you specified them. This demonstrates that you met (or maybe challenged?) the brief, and justifies your design thinking.

Edit and review your entries

Ask someone to edit your work a few weeks before submission, to give you time to make changes. And have it proofed before submission.

Of course, be sure to spell check, keep to word lengths, and submit all materials requested. It’s amazing how many entrants fail to follow these basic rules. Observing them will get you to first base!


Laneway House by Jon Jacka Architects, as shot by Jon Jacka. Winner of The Eleanor Cullis-Hill Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (Alterations and Additions) at the 2018 National Architecture Awards.

Punchbowl Mosque by Candalepas Associates, shot by Brett Boardman. Winner of The Award for Public Architecture at the 2018 National Architecture Awards.