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Innovation of Public Buildings

Changing Orders for Public Buildings in Seoul from “Price-based Competition” to “Design-based Competition”

The Seoul Metropolitan Government discontinues the practice of bidding based on price competition, which has been used in the ordering of public buildings, and adopts a design-centered competition. This new system applies to the buildings ordered by affiliated organizations of Seoul, such as SH Corporation, and 25 districts in metropolitan areas as well as Seoul. It aims to improve the design quality of public buildings, such as government office buildings, community service centers, and even libraries.

At the same time, when constructing a public building,  the voice of citizens and experts will be reflected from the planning stage of a project. The documentation required for a design competition is substantially simplified for young and excellent architects with creative ideas to participate in the competition, and the transparency of competitions is secured by disclosing the process of a review to the public. The winning designer is able to participate continuously in the project until the construction is completed.

Under the premise that good public buildings increase the pride of citizens and enhance the quality of life, and that they strengthen the competitiveness of a city,  a measure for the improvement of the ordering system for public buildings was presented after holding 50 discussion sessions  with professionals and experts  such as public building architects  and by holding architectural policy workshops.  Although design competitions have been held for large-scale government office buildings,  a new measure was needed to improve the existing system from the planning stage to the construction stage, since the quality of public buildings cannot be improved without the support of a series of processes such as experts’ participation in the design phase, reflection of opinion of citizens who will actually use the buildings, and designers’ participation in construction.

Realization of public buildings that become the icon of Culture and Art
  • 1.Architect’s participation from the Design phase
  • 2.New system of Design-centered public competitions
  • 3.Designer’s participation up to Construction
Change to design-centered competitions from price-based competitions that account for approx. 80% of ordering

The Seoul Metropolitan Government used to select bidders offering the lowest construction cost. Now, however, it adopts a method of selecting designs that offer convenience and originality in the arrangement of space and in aesthetics through design competitions.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government used to select building firms based on prices rather than quality results; as a result, low-quality public buildings were built due to designers who lacked expertise and capability.

At present

80% of public buildings in Seoul City → Price-based bidding

Tend to prefer simple price-based bidding to complex design-centered public competitions


Discontinue price-based bidding → Change to design-centered public competitions

Apply to public buildings ordered by Seoul City and districts

Guarantee opportunities for young and excellent architects by requiring them to submit only the necessary floor plan

To attract young and excellent architects, documents to be submitted for design competitions are simplified. In particular, by requiring applicants to submit only the drawings needed for the judgment of designs, such as basic plans (e.g., floor plan and layout), design description, and mass model made with Styrofoam, so as to encourage small architectural firms to participate in the competition at little cost. Through such change, the creative ideas of excellent architects will be realized, and the competitiveness of Seoul will be increased.

Guaranteeing the participation of young and excellent architects (required documents simplified)

Improvement of public competitions
At present

Excessive initial investment costs

approximately 10% of design costs, High-priced graphics such as perspective drawing and air view, Several floor plans such as structure, electricity, machines, and fire protection


Improvement of public competitions

Sketching of ideas, Simple model and basic plans

High-priced perspective drawings and air views drawn by graphic experts
High-priced perspective drawings and air views drawn by graphic experts
Building Forms made by design firms with easy 3D program
Guaranteeing transparency by opening the design examination process to the public and Providing designers with presentation opportunity

During the period of public design competitions, the Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to guarantee the transparency of judgment  by disclosing the list of reviewers prior to the review process and by broadcasting the review process live on the Internet. The city will also provide opportunities for designers to present the concept of their work and the contents of plans.  In addition, Seoul will establish a trustworthy environment by disclosing to the public the rating and reasons for the selection of the winning design.


Develop a Governance participated in by residents, experts, and public servants from the design phase

The Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to identify the need of residents in advance and reflect it on designs as well as eliminate the factors of budget waste resulting from frequent design change by developing Governance participated in by residents, experts, and civil servants from the design phase of public buildings. The city will create resident-customized public buildings by carefully investigating the appropriateness of site selection, facility size, and budget from the design phase to prevent the frequent change of design  such as size and functions of facilities  due to the poor reflection of residents’ opinions and lack of participation by experts in the planning stage.


Introduction of a “post-design management system” to guarantee the participation of designers who were not able to participate in the construction under the previous system

Furthermore, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will guarantee the participation of designers who were not able to participate in the construction under the previous system by introducing a “post-design management system.”
The “post-design management system” seeks to allow designers to: give advice on designs in advance if there is any design change, particularly design-related change; participate in the construction process, and; provide advice on construction materials and colors that are appropriate for the intent of designs.


Providing services to introduce a “Colligating architect” system for systematic and integrated management

The Seoul Metropolitan Government is reviewing a plan for introducing the “Seoul-type colligating architect” system that will manage all the public buildings ordered by experts in public in a systematic, integrated way. In the case of overseas, high-quality buildings are constructed, and the competitiveness of a city is increased by operating the system of national architects or colligating architects.  Under the accountability and consistency of colligating architects,  the function of public buildings ordered yearly by the Seoul Metropolitan Government is evenly distributed and adjusted.

  • The Seoul Metropolitan Government will change and stand shoulder to shoulder with many cities in the world when this system is successfully established and operated. Our lives will be influenced by the alternative method operated by civilian experts and civil servants through meetings, not through government-led, one-way alternative plans.
  • Currently, the change begins with insufficiency. Note, however, that Seoul will change considerably if the improved plan ordering system for public buildings is successfully established and operated. This website will make its best effort to develop public buildings through revisions and upgrades to make the citizens’ dream come true from a small beginning.