BookPDF Available

Spatial design leadership: the role, instruments and impact of state architect (or similar) teams in fostering spatial quality and a place-making culture across five European states

Honorary Research Fellow
Research Assistant
The design quality of our buildings and places has a
direct effect on people’s quality of life.
Although the importance of design quality in achiev-
ing a more sustainable urban development has been
recognized in several international declarations, in most
metropolitan and urban peripheries, places with good
spatial quality continue to be the exception rather than
the norm. Acknowledging that this situation is socially
and ecologically unsustainable, one of the main chal-
lenges ahead is how to change the current system of
production and its embodied values, so as to produce
more sustainable, economical and socially equitable
built outcomes.
In the European panorama, the public sector already
has a great influence on the design of the built environ-
ment, either by planning policy or by developing control
systems, and thereby involving almost all sectors and
levels of the state. This means that it is crucial to better
co-ordinate and reconcile design policy across many
different areas and priorities. Furthermore, the design
quality of places may be regarded as a ‘wicked prob-
lem’ as it is determined by a huge number of actors,
public and private, and is the result of embedded social
norms and cultural values. Considering its social and
complex nature, it is necessary to create a favourable
climate for good spatial design through a diversified
policy agenda that covers a wider spectrum of areas.
Departing from a broad view on public policy, this
research assumes that state intervention is a necessary
condition. Although the strength of the state appears
to be somehow diminished, it is widely accepted that
the state continues to play an important role in society,
namely in market regulation and in the steering of soci-
etal goals, place-making being no exception. To do so,
the role of the state has extended to a new dimension:
besides defining the regulatory framework, it also takes
an active role of leadership, disseminating a message
of quality and promoting the general public’s apprecia-
tion of architectural, urban and landscape culture.
In this context, several countries and states have
appointed a State Architect (or similar) team within
their administrations to provide design leadership and
strategic advice to government to improve the design
of public constructions, promote spatial quality and
foster a placemaking culture. Although State Archi-
tect teams have long been established in several coun-
tries and states around the world, in several others, the
State Architect and their supporting team is a relatively
recent position within public administration. In addition,
in the European landscape, this is still the exception
and mostly a northern European phenomenon.
To better understand the impact of spatial design lead-
ership in processes of design governance, it is rele-
vant to clarify the specific contribution of a State Archi-
tect (or similar) team and examine whether or not it can
effectively improve the role of the state in promoting
high quality environments. Additionally, little is known
on the role and competences of a State Architect team
or similar unit whose aim is to push for better develop-
ment outcomes – for instance, on the different design
policy tools they have at their disposal and their impact
Therefore, this research’s main objective is to under-
stand how spatial design leadership and spatial aware-
ness (to arrive at more informed political decisions) is
being delivered in different European states through
the formation of State Architect (or similar) teams, or
through other means. More precisely, it will be devel-
oped a comparative analysis of the roles, instruments
and impact of State Architect (or similar) teams across
five European states: Denmark, Ireland, Scotland
(United Kingdom), Vienna (Austria) and Flanders (Bel-
gium). In some of those states, there is a State Archi-
tect office in place, while in others the system operates
in other ways and through other instruments.
Following an inductive research strategy, this study
examines the operational system in place in the above
mentioned states, be it by a State Architect teams, or
any other form of an advisory expert group that pro-
vides the state with expertise on architectural and spa-
tial design policy, as well as other relevant actors. After
gathering information on existing stakeholders, the
study proceeds to a comparative analysis on the main
differences and similarities across the five case stud-
ies, allowing the extraction of policy lessons about the
different experiences and the added value of having a
State Architect (or similar) team. Finally, conclusions
are drawn on the role and impact of state design cham-
pions on processes of design governance and the
importance of a strong and committed governmental
spatial design leadership for achieving better places.
This analysis was contracted by
the Strategy Unit of the Government
Office of Estonia and funded under
the Operational Programme for
Cohesion Funds 2014–2020,
priority 12 “Administrative capacity”,
objective 12.2 “Improving the
quality of policy-making”.
This report has been informed by
all the interviewees, including the
state architects and the directors
in the five European States,
listed in Chapter 2, as well as by
helpful comments from Barbara
Feller, Gerhard Jagersberger
and Veronika Valk-Siska.
Suggested citation
Bento, J., Laopoulou, T. (2019).
Spatial design leadership: The
role, instruments and impact of
state architect (or similar) teams
in fostering spatial quality and
a place-making culture across
five European states. UCL
Bartlett School of Planning.
Tallinn, 2019
Bartlett School of Planning, UCL
14 Upper Woburn Place London
1.1 Context
1.2 Research questions
1.3 Aims
1.4 Spatial design as a holistic concept
2.1 Research approach:
a cross-national comparative inquiry
2.2 Methodology
2.3 Scope
2.4 Limitations
3.1 Design governance as a research agenda
3.2 Spatial design leadership
4.1 The role of the State Architect
4.2 The State Architects in Europe
4.3 State Architects elsewhere
4.4 Other similar structures
5.1 The Irish case
5.2 The Scottish case
5.3 The Flemish case
5.4 The Viennese case
5.5 The Danish case
6.1 The role of State Architects
6.2 State Architects policy instruments
6.3 Limitations and challenges of State
Architects teams
7.1 Public policy on architecture
7.2 State design champions
7.3 Other relevant actors
8.1 The role of and instruments of State
Architect teams
8.2 The impact of State Architect teams
8.3 Spatial design leadership:
pursuing a design agenda
11.1. Riigiarhitekti meeskondade roll ja
11.2. Riigiarhitekti meeskonna mõju
11.3. Ruumiloome eestvedamine:
eesmärkide saavutamine
Although the importance of design quality in achieving
a more sustainable urban development has been rec-
ognized in several international and European conven-
tions and declarations1, in most metropolitan and urban
peripheries, places with good spatial quality continue
to be the exception rather than the norm. Acknowl-
edging that this situation is socially and ecologically
unsustainable, one of the main challenges ahead is
how to change the current system of production and
its embodied values so as to produce more sustain-
able, economical and socially equitable built outcomes.
Therefore, there is a need to better understand which
levers need to be pulled and how to ensure that suc-
cessful places are consistently created and maintained.
In what has been described as a shift from govern-
ment to governance, all around the world, national,
regional and local administrations have established a
wide range of non-statutory instruments, where the
use of negotiation and advocacy complements the tra-
ditional set of regulatory and control mechanisms. As
will be discussed, the design quality of places may be
regarded as a ‘wicked problem’ as it is determined by
a huge number of actors, public and private, and is the
result of embedded social norms and cultural values.
Considering its social and complex nature, it is nec-
essary to create a favourable climate for good spatial
design through a diversified policy agenda that covers
a wider spectrum of areas.
Departing from a broad view on public policy, this
research assumes that state intervention is a necessary
condition (see Chapter 3). Therefore, the basic ques-
tion is not whether or not the state should intervene,
but with which means. In the European panorama,
the public sector already has a powerful influence on
the design of the built environment, either by planning
policy or by developing control systems, and thereby
imposing a huge amount of design regulations which
define almost every aspect of the built environment.
Nonetheless, the role of the government has extended
to a new dimension: besides defining the regulatory
framework, it also takes an active role of leadership,
1 Documents such as: Sustainable Developments Goals (UN, 2016);
New Urban Agenda (UN-Habitat, 2016); DAVOS Declaration
(2018); Conclusions on Architecture (EU, 2008); Leipzig Charter on
Sustainable European Cities (EU, 2007).
disseminating a message of quality and promoting the
general public’s appreciation of architectural, urban
and landscape culture.
In this framework, the present study intends to explore
the role of state leadership in processes of design gov-
ernance through the use of non-statutory design instru-
ments, namely, by the appointment of a State Architect
team, or similar institutional approaches. In fact, little
evidence is known on the potential value of governmen-
tal design leadership in enabling better places and fos-
tering a place-making culture. Even less is known on
the specific competences of State Architect (or simi-
lar) teams, which policy instruments they have at their
disposal and its impact extent on the overall system
of design governance, whose aim is to push for better
development outcomes. As such, a comparative study
of current practices is relevant to help inform the design
of public policy as well as to find out what are the appro-
priate policy instruments to intervene in the design pro-
cesses and encourage a desirable societal shift.
The starting point for this research was the observa-
tion that several countries and states have appointed
a State Architect team within their administrations to
provide design leadership and strategic advice to gov-
ernment to improve the design of public buildings and
enhance the quality of the built environment. In this
sense, it could be argued that a State Architect rep-
resents an innovation on design governance, embody-
ing a number of policy tools that improve the role of
public bodies in promoting better places. Although
State Architect teams have long been established in
several countries and states around the world (e.g.
USA or Australia), in several others, the State Archi-
tect and their supporting team is a relatively recent
position within national or state public administrations.
In addition, in the European landscape, this is still the
exception and mostly a northern European phenome-
non (Bento, 2012).
In this context, it is relevant to explore the role of state
leadership in processes of design governance through
the use of formal and informal design instruments,
namely to clarify the specific contribution of a State
Architect and examine whether or not it can effec-
tively improve the government role in promoting high
quality environments. This constitutes the background
research question that this will inquiry try to address.
Having this said, the following specific questions can
be raised:
Does a State Architect team enable the delivery
of spatial design leadership across the different
sectors and levels of public administration? If yes,
what are its main policy instruments?
To what extent have the State Architects had an
impact on design governance processes?
Considering that other countries use different institu-
tional approaches delivering the same set of goals, an
additional research question can be made:
What is the role of spatial design leadership in
design governance processes?
1.3 AIMS
The research’s main objective is to understand how
the challenge to raise spatial awareness (to arrive at
more informed political decisions) in different Euro-
pean states has been tackled through the formation
of State Architect (or similar) teams, or through other
means. More precisely, develops a comparative analy-
sis of how spatial design goals have been achieved in
arriving at informed (quality) decisions that concern the
development of the built environment in five European
states: Denmark, Ireland, Scotland (United Kingdom),
Vienna (Austria) and Flanders (Belgium). In some of
those states, there is a State Architect office in place,
while in others the system operates in other ways and
through other instruments.
Following this approach, it will be possible to compare
models of spatial design leadership equipped with a
State Architect with other models which provide spatial
design leadership by other ways and means. Therefore,
this study is expected to show the benefits and down-
falls of the operational system in place in the above
mentioned states, to carry out certain tasks of the spa-
tial development competence unit, or the spatial com-
missioner’s office / the institution of the State Architect,
or any other form of an advisory expert group that pro-
vides the state with expertise on national spatial plan-
ning and architectural design of the living environment.
After describing the context and setting the research
framework, it is relevant to introduce its main concep-
tual frame. The term architecture has different accep-
tations and extensions, being considered a polysemic
term. According with its context, architecture may be
understood in its broad sense as ‘built environment
design’ (crossing several design disciplines, involving
not only design issues but also processes of gover-
nance, etc.); or it may be understood in its narrower
sense as the ‘design of individual buildings’ (usually
associated with the work performed by architects for
a single client). This conceptual gap is aggravated by
contextual factors, in which traditions and conceptual
frames tend to change from place to place (Bento,
When referring to the built environment as a whole, the
British prefer to use ‘urban design’ as its keyword. In
fact, the broad notion of architecture as built environ-
ment design is very similar to the definition of urban
design, which is focused on creating better places for
people (Carmona, Heath, Oc, & Tiesdell, 2003). In the
Scottish case, for example, the scope of its Architec-
tural policy has progressively expanded as new policy
versions were adopted. Although its first policy focused
mainly on building design, the second policy expand its
scope to a wider urban and rural design agenda, intro-
ducing the concepts of urban design and placemaking.
A similarly broad approach is followed by Germanic
states, where the main concept adopted is baukultur,
which is broadly defined as the design of the built envi-
ronment. In fact, the recent Davos Declaration (2018)
defines it as an aspect of cultural identity and diversity,
which ‘holistically embraces every human activity that
changes the built environment, including every built and
designed asset that is embedded in and relates to the
natural environment. The same is adopted by Vienna
(Austria), which will be discussed in Chapter 5.
By the same token, the more recent Swedish Govern-
ment Architectural policy prefers to promote the notion
of designed environment (2018), to complement the
restricted meaning of architecture and avoid misun-
derstandings that would restrict grasping the broader
picture. Therefore, the term architecture, even when it
is understood as built environment design, has been
losing strength as the policy subject expands to wider
environments, where other concepts appear to better
portray the complex set of interactions, rules and norms
involved in the design of the built environment.
As will be discussed in the following Chapter, an
important issue in cross-national comparative research
is the correspondence of concepts across differ-
ent socio-cultural contexts, as they constitute the
basic ingredient of any research endeavour providing
common reference points for identifying and grouping
phenomena. In fact, concepts are used as categories
for collecting and sorting information and its operation-
alisation allows the development of theory and enables
the test of hypothesis through empirical inquiry (Rose,
1991). Despite the difficulty in identifying concep-
tual equivalence in dissimilar contexts, Rose (1991a)
argues that it is possible to develop comparative anal-
ysis across nation states by identifying concepts that
are functionally equivalent among different contexts,
which in turn will provide a suitable conceptual frame-
work for conducting comparative analysis (Mangen,
1999; Rose, 1991).
This issue is particularly relevant for this investigation.
As discussed above, the concept of architecture is
not equivalent across nations, which raises a concep-
tual hardship in the selection and grouping of informa-
tion from five different national contexts. To overcome
this dilemma, it is important to make use of a sufficient
holistic concept that may embraces all different mean-
ings associated with the notion of architecture and
the design of the built environment. In this view, this
research deliberately uses the term spatial design along
this report, which refers to design of spaces in a broad
sense, crossing the boundaries of traditional design
specialisms such as architecture, interior design, infra-
structure, landscape design and urban design.
As described previously, this research intends to anal-
yse the impact of governmental leadership in design
governance processes through the appointment of
State Architect Team, or other similar institutional
approach. To do so, it was decided to select five Euro-
pean states that would provide interesting examples
of State Architect (or similar) teams, in order to exam-
ine their roles, instruments and impact. After gather-
ing information on existing organisations, the research
would then proceed to a comparative analysis on the
main differences and similarities across the case stud-
ies, allowing to extract policy lessons about the differ-
ent experiences and some conclusions on the added
value of having a State Architect (or similar) team.
In this background, methodologically, this research is
an exercise in cross-national comparative research. In
the field of policy analysis, this methodology has been
used, among others, to develop better insights on how
to deal with policy problems by drawing lessons from
the experience of other governments (Rose, 2005).
Even so, the aim is not to copy their approaches but to
learn under what circumstances and to what extent cer-
tain programs may effectively deal with a specific policy
problem. The study of policy differences between gov-
ernments regarding a shared problem offers several
advantages, namely the opportunity to compare the
strengths and weakness of different policies and draw
lessons for other countries (Ibid, p. 4).
According to Hantrais (1999), a cross-national com-
parative research is concerned with observing social
phenomena across nations, to develop robust explana-
tions of similarities and differences and to assess their
consequences, whether for the purpose of testing a
set of hypothesis in different settings, drawing lessons
on policy experiences developed elsewhere, or just
gaining better insights of how social processes oper-
ate (1999, p. 93). Following this reasoning, cross-na-
tional comparative research is a methodology that aims
at making comparisons between countries regarding a
given phenomenon.
Although at first sight cross-national comparative re-
search appears to readily generate national findings
that enable us to extract general conclusions on the
role and impact of State Architects (or similar) teams,
the interpretative effort dedicated to comparative anal-
ysis is not actually as simple as it may seem. As in all
methodologies, cross-national comparative research
presents several conceptual challenges and limitations,
which will be addressed in Section 2.4.
In practice, a cross-national comparative research
design does not imply a predetermined way to admin-
ister cross-national research. As in other approaches,
research methods are generally tailored to the research
questions, and, no less important, to the resources
available. In this case, the research findings are the
result of a research methodology that included desk-
based research and semi-structured interviews with
key stakeholders in the different case studies.
In this framework, the research work was divided
into three phases, spread between July and October
2018. The first phase sought to take stock of the exist-
ing design governance landscape (identifying relevant
stakeholders, architecture and spatial design policies,
informal policy tools, etc.) in each of the chosen Euro-
pean states. As result of this, a brief review of the archi-
tecture policies development was carried out at the
beginning of each section on Chapter 5.
However, unpacking the policies’ discourse and gath-
ering information on the existing structures did not pro-
vide proper information on ‘how’ the State Architect (or
similar) Teams work in practice. Therefore, the second
phase sought to collect different views on the main
virtues and limitations of the State Architect Teams in
a real-life context, or other spatial design policy units
that may exist, the range of tools available and impact
extent, through a series of semi-structured interviews to
the key players in each of the case studies (see below).
The final stage sought to produce a report on the main
research findings, namely, a brief review of the archi-
tectural policies and of the role and tools of the State
Architect Teams or equivalent spatial design institu-
tions in each of the case studies. This was followed by
a cross analysis of the role and instruments of the State
Architect Teams across the first three cases studies, as
well as a discussion on the similarities and differences
of the design governance systems and spatial design
leadership across the all five case studies. Finally, some
conclusions were drawn.
Selection of interviewees
The selection of the interviewees was based on the fol-
lowing rationale; firstly, the State Architects themselves
in the three states where this position was in place (Ire-
land, Flanders and Scotland). In the two states where
there was no such position, it was decided to interview
the senior officer leading the correspondent unit or divi-
sion (Denmark and Vienna). Secondly, it was decided
to interview key stakeholders working at senior level in
other spatial design institutions in the different coun-
tries/states, to have an external viewpoint on the role,
instruments and impact of the State Architects (or sim-
ilar) Teams, such as: architecture cultural organizations,
national design champions and architects’ professional
bodies. Interview invitations were sent by email to
those institutions within the five case studies. Due to
the short time available, it was only possible to carry
out 13 telephone semi-structured interviews (see list
on the right).
List of Interviews
Office of Public Works /
State Architect
Kathryn Meghen
Royal Institute of the
Architects of Ireland
Scotland (UK)
Ian Gilzean
Scottish Government /
Chief architect
Karen Anderson
Architecture and Design
Scotland (A&DS) / CEO
Birgitte Jahn
Danish Agency for Cul-
ture and Palaces /
Ministry of Culture
Tinna Saaby
City Council /
City Architect
Tine Weisshappel
Danish Association of
Architectural Firms /
Chief Officer
Vienna (Austria)
Gerhard Jagersberger
Federal Chancellery /
Department for Visual
Arts, Architecture,
Design, Fashion, Pho-
tography and Media Arts
Barbara Feller
Austrian Architectural
Foundation / Director
Franz Kobermaier
Vienna Architecture and
Urban Design Depart-
ment / Director
Flanders (Belgium)
Leo Van Broeck
Flemish Government
architect / State Archi-
Olivier Bastin
Royal Federation of Bel-
gian Architects’ Associa-
tions / CEO
Sofie de Caigny
Flanders Architecture
Institute (VAI) /
The research study covers five European states: Ire-
land, Flanders (Belgium), Scotland (United Kingdom),
Denmark and Vienna (Austria) (see Fig. 1). The first
three states were selected due to the fact of having
a State Architect Team operating within their adminis-
tration for several years; in the cases of Flanders and
Scotland for almost twenty years. The remaining two,
Denmark and Vienna (Austria), were chosen because
they did not have a position of a State Architect Team,
which could provide interesting counterpoint examples
of other ways by public authorities to exercise spatial
design leadership through the use of innovative institu-
tional arrangements.
Fig. 1 – European location of the five case studies
In terms of administrative structures, the present study
covers two unitary administrations (Ireland and Den-
mark) and two federal administrations (Austria and Bel-
gium). For the latter, it was decided to examine only one
state of each country as building and planning policy
are state competences. In Belgium, it was decided to
study Flanders because of the Flemish Government
Architect. In Austria, it was decided to study Vienna
as it is Austrian capital city, which in turn would be
equipped with a more diversified design policy tools
than the remaining eight Austrian states due the higher
level of financial and human resources usually del-
egated to a capital city. In the case of Scotland, the
administrative structure of the UK is quite unique as it
includes four countries, each with their own system of
administrative and geographic demarcation.
The methodology chosen for this research has some
limitations. First, as in any cross-national compara-
tive research design, an important issue is the equiv-
alence of concepts across different socio-cultural
contexts (Hantrais, 1999, p. 104). Concepts consti-
tute the basic ingredient of any research endeavour
as they provide common reference points for identify-
ing and grouping phenomena (Rose, 1991). The prob-
lem in cross-national comparative research is that not
all concepts travel well across cultural and linguistic
boundaries because the same term may embody dif-
ferent meanings and the same set of ideas may be cat-
egorized under a different term. This is the case of the
German term baukultur, which will be referred to in the
case of Vienna, or the term placemaking also referred
to in the Irish and Scottish contexts. To be able to
accommodate the different meanings associated with
the concept of architecture and urban design, the main
concept used for the present study was spatial design
(see Chapter 1).
Second, due to the short period of the time available to
carry out this research (3 months) it was only possible
to interview two to three people in each state, which
diminish the diversity and richness of viewpoints about
the role and impact of State Architects (or similar)
Teams. Considering that spatial design policy is shared
by several levels and sectors of the state, it is difficult
to perceive the real impact extent of the State Architect
(and similar) teams across the administrative structures
as well as the wider system of production, without a
deeper examination of the current situation in each of
the case studies. Therefore, in future research, it would
be recommendable to carry out a higher number of
interviews per case study, to increase the range of the
individual viewpoints, including both private and public
stakeholders as well as actors from the consumer and
producer side of the market.
Third, the semi-structure interviews were mainly made
by telephone or videoconference (skype), which
decreases the openness of the replies and slightly
restrains the communication flow between the inter-
viewer and the interviewee. However, due to time and
budget limitations it would have been impractical to
travel to each of the countries/states to collect the
information in person. Therefore, in future research, it
would be advised to carry out face-to-face interviews
with main actors and stakeholders in each of the case
studies to obtain information that is not easily collected
via telephone interviews.
Although this chapter does not offer a literature review
on the topic of spatial design leadership, it intends to
make a brief incursion on the debate around the gover-
nance of design, which will be used as a framework
to explore and discuss the different models of State
Architect (or similar) teams that exist within the five case
studies. To do so, the present chapter is two folded.
A first part will start with a brief discussion about the
governance of design and the legitimacy of the state to
intervene in the design of the built environment. In addi-
tion, it will present a typology of design governance
tools. A second part will explore the notion of design
leadership ending the chapter with a small discussion
on the role and skills of individual design champions.
3.1.1 The governance of design
The design of the built environment is the result of con-
tinuous intervention of a wide range of actors and deci-
sion-makers involved in the production of the built envi-
ronment. Almost all urban interventions are based on
capital accumulation mechanisms as they demand high
financial investments and require previous careful plan-
ning and conscious forethought. Since each actor has its
own interests, goals and motivations, the development
process is marked by a constant negotiation system
leading to a fragmented and pluralistic decision process
(Adams, 1994: 2). This in turn leads to a complex pro-
cess of bargaining and negotiation over often divergent
interests and over how design quality came to be inter-
preted by the different stakeholders. Within these pro-
cesses, spatial design professions (architecture, urban
and landscape design) are essential tools for achieving
successful built outcomes. However, several external
factors, such as site constraints, client’s aims and regu-
lations have a strong influence on the choices made by
designers, who have to reconcile all these requirements
and come up with a coherent and appealing solution.
Among the vast number of agents that intervene in
these processes, the public sector has the responsi-
bility to guarantee the enhancement of the public realm
and to promote a sustainable development. Based on
these broad principles, the public sector seeks to regu-
late the development process and promote the efficient
use of resources through the planning system, build-
ing codes and other regulations, and the provision of
infrastructures and services (Carmona et al., 2003, p.
227). By setting the public policy and regulatory frame-
work it provides the context for private sector invest-
ment decision-making.
Although there is a widespread agreement on the value
of architecture and good urban design, this goal is
not fully shared by the several players that intervene
in the built environment and more broadly the general
public. As the values and practices of market actors
have a major influence on the design quality of places,
the public sector has also the potential to influence
the quality of places through the use of non-statutory
instruments, such as information, education and man-
agement. So, the public sector has a powerful influ-
ence on the design of the built environment through the
use of building and planning policy, by imposing a huge
amount of design regulations but also by the mobiliza-
tion of resources to influence actor’s behaviours and
change mind-sets towards better built outcomes.
Nevertheless, it is widely recognized that in the last
decades there have been significant changes in the
role of the state in society, in which market forces play
an increasingly important role. The rise of neo-liberal
ideas, deregulation, privatization of public services and
public-private partnerships have all contributed to a
loss of power of the state. Despite these developments
it is argued that the role of the government should be
maintained and in particular should be inspirational,
leading by example (Harvey, 2008; Nelissen, 1999).
Therefore, the role of the government has extended to a
new dimension: besides defining the regulatory frame-
work, it also takes an active role of leadership, dissem-
inating a message of quality and promoting the general
public’s appreciation of architectural, urban and land-
scape culture.
In this sense, the term governance rather than govern-
ment has gained popularity because it embodies the
notion that a whole range of institutions, actors, tools
and relationships are involved in the process of govern-
ing – a notion that better portrays a new way of think-
ing about state capabilities and state–society relation-
ships (Pierre & Peters, 2000). In fact, the concept of
governance reveals that the state actors must operate
in a new ways (Rhodes, 1997), which should not be
‘based on the use of authority and sanctions of govern-
ment’ (Stoker, 1998). Consequently, rather than com-
mand-and-control, the public sector’s principal instru-
ments become those of bargaining, negotiation and
persuasion (Steve Tiesdell & Adams, 2011).
In this context, the concept of design governance fits
well to this new way of governing, changing the empha-
sis in policy delivery from (direct) management to (indi-
rect) enablement. Matthew Carmona (2016) defines
design governance as the ‘process of state interven-
tion in the means and processes of designing the built
environment in order to shape both processes and out-
comes in a defined public interest’. This means that the
role of the state is much more than just ‘controlling’ or
‘guiding’ design and development form. As will be dis-
cussed, the public sector has the potential to influence
the development process and the quality of the built
environment through the employment of a wide range
of statutory and non-statutory functions.
3.1.2 Design quality: the need
for public intervention
Architecture and urban design are all around us and,
even if not intentionally, everything is designed. This
means that the design quality of our buildings and
places has a direct effect on people’s quality of life.
However, the processes involved in the production of
the built environment tend to somehow diminish the
importance of design quality in favour of economic
factors, resulting, more often than not, in unsatisfac-
tory environments. Acknowledging that this situation
is ecologically and socially unsustainable, one of the
main challenges ahead is how to change the current
system of production and its embodied values so as
to produce more sustainable, economical and socially
equitable built outcomes. To address these concerns
several countries have developed national architec-
tural policies recognizing the value of good design
and setting up public bodies to promote better quality
Before exploring the policy tools available to the state
to promote high quality environments, it is necessary
to address the broader question of the public sector’s
legitimacy to intervene in the processes of designing
the built environment. From an urban planning per-
spective, public intervention and regulation of urban
development are seen as necessary responses to
market failure (Adams, 1994). Therefore, the public
sector has, in principle, the responsibility to protect the
public interest as the market alone cannot ensure good
quality environments (Carmona et al., 2003). The prob-
lem of this equation is that the public interest is a com-
plex concept and in matters of architecture and urban
design most of the times there is no consensus on
what constitutes good design. For this reason, public
intervention in design processes, particularly in issues
of design control has been the cause of much con-
flict and tensions between public and private actors,
typically with architects and planners in opposite sides
(Hall, 1996, p. 1).
The most persistent critique of design policy is based
on the argument that design is essentially a subjective
discipline. In this view, any attempt to influence design
through statutory processes is inevitably value-landed
and arbitrary and constrains design freedom and private
property rights (Carmona et al. 2003). However, most
of the criticisms about design control focus on aes-
thetic and stylistic aspects of development neglecting
important aspects of urban design, such as functional-
ity, integration, etc. Based on the argument that design
is largely a subjective matter and generally regarded as
a ‘no-go’ area for planners, some local authorities use
this as a justification for not offering more construc-
tive advice about what good design might be (Ibidem,
p. 36). In this sense, the debate about design control
which focuses only on issues of architectural design
and external appearance is a narrow view. Instead,
design control should focus on an overriding concern
with urban design over architecture (design of build-
ings) and aesthetic issues (Carmona, 1996).
Nevertheless, the design quality of the built environ-
ment – buildings, streets, parks and public spaces –
has a deep effect on people’s wellbeing because every-
one uses buildings and their surroundings in their daily
lives. Consequently, the design quality of the built envi-
ronment is a matter of collective interest (AAP 1996).
As Simmons (2008, p. 2) points out: ‘No building exists
only for the people who paid for it or who use it. Every-
Fig. 2 - Formal (left) and informal (right) tools of design governance, ordered by degree of intervention.
Adapted from Carmona (2017, p. 6 & 19)
assistance greater
body has to live with it. Streets and parks belong to us
all. This means that although many organizations and
individuals have an interest in the design and use of
places, design quality cannot be solely a matter of par-
ticular individuals. As a consequence, the conflict of
interests existing in society about the urban form and
environment need to be mediated by the public sector
in order to guarantee an effective balance between
particular and public interests. As Hall (Hall, 1996, p.
2) notes: ‘quality in the context of urban design is a
public matter and must (…) be derived, wholly or par-
tially, from the public interest and must also be a legiti-
mate concern of local government organizations.
Assuming that public intervention on the design pro-
cess is a condition to safeguard the public interest, the
debate on design policy and control is not about the
need for ‘some type of intervention but rather about the
methods employed and the exact nature of design that
is being controlled’ (Hall, 1996, p. 2). Hall (1996) sug-
gests that if design quality is an important aspect for
the quality of life of citizens, then it is legitimate for the
public sector to attempt to influence and improve the
design quality of developments, mitigating inequalities
and safeguarding the public interest. This means that
the need for public intervention in design processes is
justified by the inherent limitations of the development
The functioning of the market alone is not able to gen-
erate qualified urban environments. In general, devel-
opers are strongly guided by commercial interests
and market considerations, which do not assume a
longer-term view (AAP 1996). Aiming to appropriate
the development value of sites, their objectives are
essentially financial and short-term (Carmona et al.,
2003, p. 223). Therefore, public sector intervention
and regulation of the development process is a natu-
ral response to the dysfunctions of land and property
markets (Ibidem, p.238). This means that some form
of public intervention and regulation of development is
3.1.3 The design governance toolbox
One of the strategies to face the issue of design qual-
ity is to adopt a mix of policy tools, which can address
different development actors and stimulate a beneficial
circle of production. What exactly those tools are, how-
ever, or how they might be classified, remains an open
question. Different typologies have been proposed in
relevant literature but there is no widely accepted con-
sensus as of yet. For the purposes of this report, we
propose the typology presented by Carmona (2017) as
a useful model of examining the types of instruments,
approaches and actions that might be employed by
policy makers to influence the production of urban
environments – a ‘toolbox’ for design policy.
Carmona’s work is built upon two foundations: his con-
tinued examination of design policy literature over the
last years (e.g. Carmona, 2017; Carmona, 2016)
and, on the other hand, his study of the work of CABE
(Commission for the Built Environment), an advisory
body operating in England from 1999 to 2011. The
particulars of CABE’s work are slightly out of the scope
here, and of course not easily generalizable outside its
particular national context. The academic research that
builds on this work though provides, we believe, a cat-
egorisation that transcends the original case study and
can be useful when examining the role of State Archi-
tects and similar organisations.
The first distinction that Carmona makes in building
his typology is one between formal and informal tools.
Formal tools are tied to the regulatory responsibilities of
the state, as legally defined – they are, in other words,
designed to execute what is required of the state. Infor-
mal tools, on the contrary, are discretionary, optional.
This is the major distinction that determines where
particular methods are placed in the toolbox. Beyond
that, a second distinguishing aspect is defined as the
degree of intervention that a tool is built for – in a rela-
tional definition of lesser to greater (see Fig. 2).
This is a combination of the target of each tool as well
as its ‘directness’. Some tools focus more on the ‘prod-
uct’ of urban design (specific sites or projects) and are
intended to help shape a particular outcome (hence,
direct). Others focus more on the ‘process’ of creating
urban spaces, on influencing the decision-making envi-
ronment within which choices about particular places
are made. These are the more indirect tools, whose
impact is likely to be long-term and diffused; whereas
direct, product-focused tools are more immediate and
clear-cut in their impact (Ibid, pp. 4-5). This is not to say
that direct or formal tools are better though, quite the
contrary. In fact, part of the significance of this typology
lies in its recognition of the importance of informal tools
and the long-lasting impact that they can have.
This typology then specifies three categories of formal
tools (guidance, incentive, control) and five categories
of informal ones (evidence, knowledge, promotion eval-
uation and assistance). Very briefly outlined, guidance
mainly includes design standards and coding, incen-
tive is about subsidies or bonuses and direct invest-
ment, while control refers to planning applications and
permits, developer contributions, or consent. Again,
these are of course mainly defined to respond to the
particulars of the UK planning system, but direct analo-
gies can be made to other systems in the EU.
On the informal tools side, evidence refers to the
research or audit capabilities of governmental or advi-
sory bodies. Knowledge includes the creation of best
practice guides, case studies libraries or education &
training initiatives. Promotion is about awards, cam-
paigns and partnerships. Evaluation includes different
types of reviews and certifications, as well as, poten-
tially, competitions. Finally, assistance might involve
financing of projects or the direct help of a public offi-
cial to applicants shaping a proposal (always via trans-
parent procedures).
In almost all real-life scenarios, it’s unlikely that just
one of these tools would be enough to accomplish a
desired outcome – a mix-and-match approach would
normally by necessary. Circling back to the position
of a State Architect (or similar), it’s also highly likely
that the intended outcome would have much more to
do with indirect effects (for example, influencing the
behaviour of actors involved in the development pro-
cess) rather than direct ones (changing one particular
project, for instance). It’s therefore plausible to suggest
that the State Architect position involves the use of the
informal tools, as defined in this typology, equally if not
more than the use of formal ones.
To better understand which are the main instruments
used and initiatives proposed, the next chapter will
review the role of State Architects in a transversal per-
spective, providing practical examples of State Archi-
tects in Europe and beyond. Before that, the following
section will discuss the notion of spatial design leader-
ship and the role of design champions.
3.2.1 Place leadership as a tool
The discussion on the concept of leadership and the
set of attributes it entails has gradually transformed into
a specialized field of research in management, busi-
ness and organizational literature. Management manu-
als usually define leadership as a process in which one
individual influences a group of individuals towards a
common goal (Collinge & Gibney, 2010). In this per-
spective, leadership encompasses the ability of an indi-
vidual or an organization to lead or guide other individ-
uals, teams or organizations. Nevertheless, according
to Northouse (2010), the notion of leadership tends to
have multiple dimensions and approaches depending
on the context it is being used. Addressing this issue,
after an extensive literature review, Winston and Patter-
son (2006, p. 7) offers the following integrative defini-
tion of leadership:
“A leader is one or more people who selects,
equips, and influences one or more follower(s)
who have diverse gifts, abilities, and skills and
focuses the follower(s) to willingly and enthusi-
astically expend spiritual, emotional, and phys-
ical energy in a concerted coordinated effort to
achieve the organizational mission and objec-
In this view, leadership is closely associated to the idea
of movement and getting a body of followers to move
in an intendent direction to achieve an institutional goal.
In management literature, the concept has also been
associated to the idea of design leadership where
the strategic value of design has become increas-
able important in differentiating products that compa-
nies cannot afford to ignore (Turner, 2016). Companies
such as Apple or Audi are usually credited with appre-
ciating the value of design quality and providing design
In the scope of planning theory, place leadership has
been entangled within urban governance and collab-
orative planning literature (Healey, 1998), namely it’s
implication in place-making (Collinge & Gibney, 2010).
Within this field, there is a huge amount of literature
examining the role of regions and local authorities as
‘place-shapers’ with responsibility for developing the
local economy and the built environment. Considering
that local authorities and politicians have an important
role in the definition of urban areas, strong and com-
mitted place leadership has the potential to enhance
place-making in the city. Frequently, city mayors are
referred to as visionary place leaders with strong inter-
est in better urban spaces (e.g. Mayor Pasqual Mara-
gall of the city of Barcelona) supporting the relation-
ship between quality of place and the ability of areas to
attract population, investment, employment and visitors
(UK, 2016).
In this context, place leadership involves creating the
right conditions under which better places emerge and
setting the urban agenda, enabling better built out-
comes (Adams & Tiesdell, 2013). Successful local
place leaders are able to coordinate and communicate
a vision of a fairer, more efficient and sustainable city.
In addition, place leaders have the ability to balance the
economic as well as the environment and social quali-
ties of place. Therefore, place leadership is important in
place-making as it drives action towards a certain goal
in the future, reducing possible risks and increasing
public participation (Ibidem). According to Adams &
Tiesdell (2013), there are four specific tasks that char-
acterize good place leadership:
Promoting a place-making culture – convincing
politicians, stakeholders and the public to move
further beyond standardized regulations as a
means to achieve place quality
Charting a vision for the future – providing specific
goals to achieve in service of a wider agenda for
better places
Influencing and motivating people – explaining the
specific value of creating better places for different
groups and engaging them in the process
Mobilizing resources – facilitating partnerships
that might be able to provide the necessary
resources for projects
Although this study does not intend to review the grow-
ing literature on this topic, the notion of place leader-
ship is useful for the discussion on the role of the gov-
ernment in promoting better designed environments,
namely the role the State Architect teams plays and the
impact it may have on the wider system of design gov-
ernance. Considering the complex interplay of public
and private stakeholders that are continuously contrib-
uting to the transformation of the built environment, the
way that public authorities position themselves towards
the development process - as either a more passive or
proactive actor - will have a determinant effect on the
overall quality of places. If government wants to play a
leading role in the design and place agenda, it needs
to assume its responsibility in placemaking and provide
spatial design leadership.
Table 1 - Spectrum of archetypal design champion roles
Design advisor Change agent/design champion
Role More limited
Design support – to increase design capacity/skill
level, and to provide design support for mainstream
development management/control planners
More expansive
Change agent – to provoke,
enable and lead organisational
culture change
Focus Operational, detail
Engagement with planning as a
reactive development control/
management activity
Architectural and urban architectural
design (first-order design)
Strategic, broad brush
Engagement with planning as a proactive
city-making/place-shaping activity
Urban design and place-making
(second-order design)
Timespan Continuous – permanent salaried position Temporary – time-limited appointment
Activity Direct (hands-on) involvement with projects,
planning applications, design review, pre-
application negotiations, design/development briefs
Involvement with visions and organisation
cultural change at the strategic level
Profile Less public, less high-profile role
Limited engagement with local media
More public, more high-profile role
Significant engagement with local media
(Source: Adapted from Tiesdell (2011, p. 237))
3.2.2 The role of design champions
As will be discussed in the next chapter, in some coun-
tries there is an old tradition of having a State Architect
(in some referred to as Chief Government architect)
while in others this position has just been recently cre-
ated to champion design across public administration.
For example in the UK, several organizations have been
appointing individuals to act as proactive champions
of better design, entrusted with leadership, educational
and advocacy roles (Tiesdell, 2011).2 Addressing the
same aims, several countries has also created orga-
nizations to act as express design champions, such
as the case of the Architecture and Design Scotland
(A+DS), which will be discussed further ahead in this
report, or the former Commission for Architecture and
the Built Environment (CABE).
In this sense, the idea of ‘design champion’ embraces
individual positions as well as organizations. Examples
of the former include individuals appointed as design
champions within national or local authorities (state or
city architects) and private companies, generally sup-
ported by advisors and administrative staff. Examples of
the latter may include an entire department or advisory
board inside a public organization, a non-departmental
public body (NDPB) or a non-profit private association.
This means that the role of design champion may be
performed by an individual as well as an organization
dedicated to promote and advocate for better places.
Although this research is focused on State Architects,
which are entrusted to champion design inside public
administration, the concept of ‘design champion’ will
be useful for this research because it helps to frame
different policy instruments that government may use
to offer spatial design leadership across the five case
3.2.3 Mission of design champions
Looking at the British context (although this problem
can be found in other countries too), Tiesdel & Adams
(2011) notice that the lack of design skills within local
planning authorities has long been a concern of the
design community, developers and policymakers. In this
sense, appointing a design advisor (and other design
staff) was a practical way of addressing this skills defi-
cit. Analysing the role of ‘design champions’ in local
authorities in the UK, Tiesdell (2011) propose that the
role of design champions can be positioned in a spec-
2 According to CABE, in 2006 there were design champions in
England and Wales in 65 per cent of local authorities, 78 per cent
of primary care trusts, 67 per cent of local education authorities,
83 per cent of police authorities, and a growing number of volume
housebuilders (CABE, 2006).
trum - from a more limited role of the ‘design advisor’
to the more expansive one of ‘change agent’ or ‘change
leader’, as outlined in Table 1 on the left.
In one side of the spectrum, in its narrowest sense, the
design advisor “operates within, and adds capacity to,
the statutory planning system and is primarily develop-
ment-control-oriented, supporting ‘mainstream’ planning
officers during pre-application discussions on develop-
ment projects and thereafter on negotiations and report
writing on formal applications” (Ibidem, 2011, p. 237).
Assuming a more proactive role, it is possible that the
appointed design advisor may also ‘help shape design
policies in development plans, development/design
briefs and area strategies/frameworks and masterplans’
On the opposite side of the spectrum, some local
authorities may appoint a design champion as change
agent, with a much more ambitious role. According with
the two authors, this is a “strategic and political role, in
which the change agent develops a vision of positive
change and leads a project to transform an organisation
by getting people – politicians, local authority officers,
the local design and development communities, amenity
groups and the general public – to think differently about
place-making; to alter everyday working practices; and
ultimately to achieve better outcomes on the ground”
Not all cities and municipalities require such an
enhanced role to be assigned to their design champion,
of course. Where a place-making culture is already well
rooted it might well be more beneficial to have advi-
sors operating at the more limited end of the spectrum.
In other locations though, a larger project of change
might be required, to establish, for instance, new and
innovative regulatory / planning frameworks for real
estate development – and to trigger a wider cultural
change in the way place-making and place quality are
regarded, for all of which the ‘change agent’ role is a
key part of the project.
3.2.4 The skills of individual design champions
As mentioned in the previous section, appointing a
design champion is a capacity-building instrument,
which represents an ‘investment’ in “strategic capacity
and typically involving organisational culture change”
(Ibidem, p. 237). In 2006, the former CABE published
a small booklet, directed to house builders, arguing for
the importance of the appointment of a ‘design cham-
pion’ within their corporation with responsibility for
delivering design quality. In CABE’s perspective, the
purpose of a design champion would be to “promote
good design in every area of the organization, ensur-
ing that design issues play a central role in corporate
strategy and deliver demonstrable commercial bene-
fits” (CABE, 2006).
In this sense, it is argued that the added value of design
champions is not just for high-profile projects but to
embed design quality concerns within the everyday
working practice of the organization, as dedicated and
determined leadership is required to be able to create
places with consistently good design quality. Accord-
ing to CABE (2006), the key duties of a design cham-
pion should include:
leading from the front and generating enthusi-
asm for good design promoting the value of good
design as a catalyst for innovation and customer
ensuring that all relevant staff are aware of the
external advice available from public bodies pro-
viding a visible point of contact for external organ-
isations and internal discussion.
More specifically, a design champion should be/have:
an executive or a non-executive board member
knowledgeable about design and able to persuade
colleagues both within the organization and in the
wider industry of the commercial and social bene-
fits that design quality offers;
able to work with all relevant teams within the
able to see the bigger picture and help develop a
corporate vision;
a commitment and passion for good design;
significant professional experience of design or a
recognised design qualification;
technical support available within the organization;
an understanding of the industry context and
commercial relationships across the supply chain
Although most of the characteristics listed above are
quite ambiguous, they are relevant for the discussion
about the set of skills that a design champion should
have, to enable organisational culture change. As dis-
cussed earlier on the concept of leadership, a design
champion must be a person who is able to convince
others to change their way of doing things, towards a
specific direction. For achieving this, the level of power
or influence on others as well as the type of resources
available will be decisive elements. First and foremost,
the design champion’s place on the hierarchy will deter-
mine their authority within the organization, and there-
fore also the extent to which they are able to connect
different departments and maintain high standards and
consistency of approach – all of which requires a high-
er-level position.
Secondly, the professional experience of design or a
recognised design qualification will be a relevant attri-
bute of the design champion. Most followers, in this
case, built environment professionals will only pay
proper attention if they recognize enough design skills
and competence in its leader. Personality and motiva-
tion will also be important characteristics of those key
actors whose role it is to champion design. A person
without a sincere passion and commitment for good
design will not be able to persuade colleagues both
within the organization and the wider system of pro-
duction of the commercial and social benefits that
design quality can offer.
As will be seen in the case studies where there is a
State Architect office in place, the selection process
for the State Architect position is very demanding, fol-
lowing a series of steps and interviews procedures
based on multi-criteria assessment, evaluating things
such as personality, ability to solve complex problems
and communication skills.
The previous chapter introduced the theoretical back-
ground on design governance and spatial design
leadership that will be used as a framework to analyse
the different models of State Architect (or similar)
teams on each of the five case studies. Considering
the aims of this research – to examine the role, instru-
ments and impact of State Architect teams (or similar
bodies) in fostering spatial quality and a place-making
culture -, this chapter intends to provide a snapshot
of the different State Architect teams in Europe and
beyond. As was the case with design champions, the
position of State Architect team is an old tradition on
several countries and states around the globe, while
in others this position as just been recently created.
Similarly, the main functions vary across these local
contexts as each position tries to address specific
local issues and particularities, but there are certainly
also common elements and apparent influences across
regions and borders.
At the global level there are many national and state
governments that have a public official within its admin-
istrative organisation entitled ‘State Architect’ or ‘Chief
Government Architect’ (for now on, only referred as
State Architect). The State Architect is often supported
by a small team composed of a group of officials and
administrative staff, whose size and structure varies
according with its specific competencies (Bento,
2012). The State Architect and its subordinates usu-
ally form an organizational unit with the same name of
the State Architect (e.g. the Office of the State Archi-
tect, Division of the State Architect, Chief Government
Architect Team, or similar).
Although the specific competences and areas of
responsibility of a State Architect vary according
with the national/state context, they normally involve
responsibility for the design and/or construction of
public buildings. With expansion of the welfare state,
governments needed to plan and built a wide range
of public facilities, such as administrative buildings,
schools, universities, hospitals, medical centres, justice
courts, defence and security buildings, etc. Therefore,
there was a practical need to have someone respon-
sible for the design of public buildings, usually within
the Office of Public Works or similar body in charge
for the planning and development of public amenities.
This means that the State Architect will work closely
with other technical departments constituted by a wide
variety of professionals (e.g. structural and safety engi-
neers, surveyors, urban planners, etc.) as well financial
or law departments.
However, the need for proper facilities for performing
state activities is shared by all sectors and levels of the
administration, involving almost all public policies of the
state, such as education, health, justice, defence, etc.
In many countries, each sectoral area has its own small
public works department responsible for the manage-
ment and maintenance of their sectoral building stock,
while in other countries this is centralized in major
building and property agencies3.
Regardless of the size and distribution of the architec-
ture pie slices, most of these state departments do not
have the capacity to prepare the designs and specifi-
cations for larger public (as in, state-owned) building
projects. In this sense, the office of the State Architect
helps in the process of selecting and overseeing the
work of architectural firms contracted by the state. Fol-
lowing this phase, in some cases it also helps review-
3 Danish Building and Property Agency
ing and approving designs prepared by private-sector
Taking in consideration the wide range of sectoral
departments involve in design, the role of the State
Architect is to provide leadership and strategic advice
to Government to improve the design of public build-
ings and spaces. Besides planning and design-
ing public buildings, the State Architect is also usu-
ally called to provide advice to the government about
building regulations or other related legislation. It also
contributes to policy and design advocacy, namely in
the definition and development of architecture and built
environment policy.
Although the specific functions of a State Architect
may vary from state to state, it may include:
Preparing designs and specifications for state-
owned building or renovation projects;
Selecting and overseeing the work of architectural
firms contracted by the public sector to prepare
designs and specifications for state-owned build-
ing projects;
Reviewing and approving designs prepared by pri-
vate-sector architects for buildings owned by the
state such as schools, courts, hospitals, etc;
Providing advice and participate in the develop-
ment of building codes and regulations;
Developing and managing public funds for state
building construction programs;
Coordinating and providing inspection programs
for public building projects.
It should be noted that the State Architect (or similar)
teams are normally separated from the licensing board
or professional institutions responsible for regulating
the profession through rules of admission (like exams)
and for licensing practicing architects in the country/
state. In some countries, such as in the United King-
dom, a person may only practise or carry on business
under any name using the word architect if it has the
title of architect registered at the Architects Registra-
tion Board.
Specific case studies from Europe are of course the
focus of this report, presented in later sections. For
a brief overview of State Architects globally however,
it would be useful to take here a very quick glimpse
across the European panorama. This is just regarding
specifically the role of state or government architects,
in example places where that exists; and not the formal
government structures dealing with architecture & built
environment policy, such as ministries or departments
– although there are many cases where such depart-
ments take on some of the roles mentioned in the pre-
vious section, to varying extents.
The Netherlands have had a Chief Architect since the
beginning of the nineteenth century, under one name
or another (Netherlands, 2006). Nowadays, the Dutch
Chief Architect is assisted by a Board of Government
Advisors and a small staff team. Among other tasks,
the Chief Architect promotes and monitors the urban
integration and architectural quality of all government
buildings, harmonizing architecture with urban and
rural planning, monument preservation and the use of
art works.
The position of the Chief Architect of the Netherlands
later served as influence for regions of Belgium to
establish their own version of the post, called ‘Bou-
wmeester’, starting with Flanders at the end of the
1990s, which is one of this research case studies.
Then in 2007 the position was also introduced in Wal-
lonia leading to the creation of the ‘Architecture Cell of
the Wallonia-Brussels Federation’ and kept spreading
across the country. In 2009 the Brussels Government
chose their own first Bouwmeester for a five-year term,
Charleroi followed soon after and Gent is expected to
follow suit.
In a case that will also be discussed in more detail later,
the Irish policy established the position of State Archi-
tect in 2009, essentially as an upgrade of the previous
position of ‘principal architect’ within a specific depart-
ment. Elsewhere, while the position does not offi-
cially exist today, Iceland’s first State Architect Gudjón
Samúelsson (1887-1950) designed important public
building such as the National Theatre.
More recently, in September 2018, Sweden´s govern-
ment has appointed it first national architect, who will
be responsible by the supervision of the new national
architecture policy for Sweden4.
In the United States of America there is a long tradition
of chief architect office. At the federal level, there is a
chief architect for the Public Buildings Service (PBS),
of the General Services Administration (GSA). Consid-
ered one of the most influential architectural roles in the
government, the chief architect oversees thousands
of PBS owned and leased assets. At the state level,
4 Sweden’s National Bill for architecture and design
(Prop. 2017/18: 110)
there are several states that have the position of State
Architect: Ohio, California, Colorado and Tennessee,
to mention just a few.
The Division of the State Architect (DSA) of California
provides design and construction oversight for public
schools, community colleges, and various other state-
owned and leased facilities. The division also develops
accessibility, structural safety, and historical building
codes and standards utilized in various public and pri-
vate buildings throughout the state of California.
The Office of the State Architect (OSA) of Colorado
is statutorily responsible for the administration of state
funded planning, construction, energy conservation
and real estate transactions at state agencies and insti-
tutions of higher education. Additional responsibilities
include: establishing policies and procedures, provid-
ing technical support and training, recommending the
annual controlled maintenance state-wide budget and
state agency capital construction budget requests to
the Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting
and the Capital Development Committee of the general
The other place where the position of State Architects
is well established is Australia. Australia employs a
Government Architect for each of its territories except
for Tasmania, where the position was established 2009
but went under review and finally lapsed when its holder
resigned in 20125. New South Wales, Queensland and
Western Australia have had Government Architects
(under various names) since the 19th century, while the
Northern Territory, Victoria and Capital Territory posi-
tions were created after 2000.
Each territory office is different, with slight variations in
its role and responsibilities. In general, though, the gov-
ernment architects’ duties involve providing advice and
expert opinion/evaluation on particular projects as well
as fostering collaborative relationships with external
bodies (universities, cultural foundations etc.). Advice
and consultation are provided to other governmental
bodies; government architects might assess private
development proposals but they don’t, as a general
rule, engage with private developers in the design pro-
cess. Also shared across territories is the responsibil-
ity to champion design quality and to promote the role
of, and appreciation for, architecture and urban design.
Finally, one rather unique element in the Australian case
tasmanian-government-architect-resigns-position-un [accessed
that is worth mentioning specifically is that the Gov-
ernment Architects are connected through a formalised
network, the Government Architects Network of Aus-
tralia (GANA)6. This is a national collaborative exchange
platform, with annual meetings, whose aim is to facili-
tate knowledge and information exchange between
the different offices and to enable them to benefit from
each other’s experience, skills and resources.
Several countries have been supporting cultural orga-
nizations directly engaged with the promotion and
awareness of architectural culture. One of the main
aims of the architectural polices is to create a favour-
able climate for the generation of design quality. To do
so, they aim to raise awareness of the general public,
which in turn will have an impact on the quality of the
built environment by raising consumers (clients, buyers,
communities) expectations about the quality of design.
In this sense, the recognition of the importance of
communicating the value of Architecture to the gen-
eral public has led several governments to financially
support new cultural organizations, mainly through the
ministries of culture, obtaining the remaining funding
from privative sponsorship and donations.
In this sense, cultural institutions have been develop-
ing programmes targeting different audiences, such
as young generations (via school workshops, teach-
ing materials etc.), professional designers (lectures,
debates, etc.) and wider public (exhibitions, open
houses, TV programmes, etc.). Although the scale and
concept differ between the different bodies, their main
objective is to present and provide information about
architecture and urban matters, creating spaces for
debate about the future of the built environment.
To ensure that design quality is a core aim of all state
departments and agencies many cities and municipali-
ties have created an architectural advisory body to pro-
mote design quality within the public sector. The con-
figuration and competence of these bodies changes
considerably from country to country depending on
administrative structure and preferences of domestic
actors. Nevertheless, all have the general principle that
the state should lead by example, being a role model
for society as a building promoter, client and property
A characteristic example is that of Scotland and the
A+DS, which was briefly mentioned already and will
be revisited when examining this case study. A+DS
was established particularly to champion the highest
standards in architecture and placemaking, advocat-
ing a better understanding of the importance of quality
design in both the public and private sectors. A+DS
works through six programmes to advocate the ben-
efits of excellence in design, including urban design,
design review, school design and healthcare design.
Other similar examples from different national contexts
include the following:
Ministerial Advisory Group on Architecture and
the Built Environment (Northern Ireland)
In 2006, the Northern Ireland government adopted the
Policy for Architecture and the Built Environment and
in 2007 established a publicly appointed group of pro-
fessionals. Now comprising a Chair, 7 Members and
21 Specialist Advisors, the Ministerial Advisory Group
(MAG) advises on the implementation and develop-
ment of the Policy.
The MAG Group undertakes its roles in a number of
ways including: briefing and design workshops, design
reviews, consultation responses, site visits, sympo-
siums, position papers, research, advising and working
with government departments and district councils
Cellule Architecture (Wallonia – Belgium)
The missions of the Cellule architecture are articulated
around three main objectives:
I. Guarantee architectural quality in buildings and
spaces accessible to the public, by promoting a
creative architecture, integrating environmental
and energy performance, and by using the disci-
plines associated with architecture such as land-
scape, furniture design and signage, scenography,
To achieve this, the Architecture Unit accompa-
nies the implementation processes of the designer
designation contracts (assistance with the drafting
of programs, identification of constraints, estab-
lishment of favourable conditions for the smooth
running of teams’ competition, communication,
etc.). The objective is to give the buildings of the
Wallonia-Brussels Federation to those it co-fi-
nances or whose design it accompanies an exem-
plary value for the community.
The Architecture Unit has developed a series of
standard documents in a practical guide (choice
of procedure, terms of reference, timeline, organ-
ization of the jury, pre-analysis framework for the
files, sample selection PV and attribution, etc.) that
facilitate the work of local operators. Meetings with
the Walloon regional tutelage have also clarified
its position, which is now in line with this way of
II. Support and develop the integration of works of
art in public buildings; for which we will not go into
detail here, and finally,
III. Promote architecture as a cultural discipline,
through a policy of implementation and support
for both public and private initiatives involved in
the identification, promotion and enhancement of
architecture and its associated disciplines
MIQCP | Inter-ministerial Mission for the
Quality of Public Buildings (France)
MIQCP was created in 1977 to promote quality in
the public construction sector, which is considered
to include any new or maintenance work on buildings,
infrastructures and open spaces under the responsi-
bility of the State or local authorities. MIQCP works
mainly by bringing together different actors involved in
built environment projects, and its specific actions fall
under five key themes:
i. Client involvement, where the main goal
is to mobilise all clients and to foster pro-
ductive relationships with state and local
authorities, using its position as an impar-
tial body to mediate where necessary. In
this, the MIQCP acts as the expert con-
sultant, involved in the all stages of the
development process prior to actually
breaking ground, as well as in design
ii. Contribution to the evolution of proce-
dures, which refers to general and specific
regulatory frameworks. MIQCP advises
on the preparation of legislation, engages
with professional bodies and acts as a
resource centre open to public clients and
project consultants.
iii. Training and increasing awareness, which
includes training courses and consul-
tations open to clients and professional
bodies, on themes such as the challenges
of maintaining design quality and the train-
ing of jury members for competitions.
iv. Communications, including undertaking
and publishing research, weighing in on
current problems, issuing recommenda-
tions etc.
v. and finally, sharing experience on an inter-
national level, by promoting the French
concept of ‘savoir-faire’ beyond the nation
and participating in discussions on harmo-
nizing policy and practices across Europe.
Local architecture advisory bodies
Some countries have created local architectural advi-
sory bodies dedicated to promoting design quality at
the local level. Some of these bodies give free tech-
nical advice to clients and local authorities as others
charge a small commission for their expert service,
such as helping to set up architectural competitions
(Bento, 2012). For example, the Netherlands created
the Architectuur Lokaal foundation, an independent
centre of expertise and information devoted to commis-
sioning building development in the Netherlands. This
lightweight structure (10 people) is subsidised by four
Ministries concerning architecture (culture, town plan-
ning, environment and transport), and is in contact with
both public and private clients: these include the local
authorities as well as real estate developers and private
individuals involved in building operations. AL mission
is to act as a link between national policies and local
practices, to help local agents apply national policies
as well as incorporate local practices and experience
into national decisions.
City architects
Several municipalities have appointed City Architects to
develop work as local authority design champions explic-
itly tasked with providing design leadership. According
with Tiesdell (2011), design leadership involves culti-
vating the conditions under which place-making rises
up the urban agenda, enabling better outcomes on the
ground. As will be seen in the Danish case, there are 7
cities in Denmark that have appointed a City Architect.
The same has happened in The Netherlands, where
several cities created with this position, as well as in
other northern European countries. For example, Riga’s
City Architect Office has the following mission:
“to facilitate well-balanced and sustainable devel-
opment of Riga’s urban environment by improving
the work of municipality in supervision of archi-
tectural quality – upgrading the set of admin-
istrative instruments and maintaining a regular,
open, timely, comprehensive and professional
discussion about the ideas and projects that are
significant to the community and popularising the
best achievements in Latvian architecture in other
countries and cities.” (Riga, 2005)
Although with a different nature, the Mayor of London
Sadiq Khan has just appointed 50 Mayor’s Design
Advocates to work on the Good Growth by Design
programme, an architecture and spatial design strategy
of Great London Authority. According with the Mayors
webpage, the aim is for London’s public organisations
to create quality buildings and public spaces that will
enrich London’s communities now and in the future.
They will support London authority and address the
challenges facing’s our built environment.7
guidance/about-good-growth-design (accessed 15/8/2018)
As discussed in the previous chapter, the position of
State Architect and its supporting teams has long been
established in several countries and states around the
world (e.g. USA or Australia). In several others, the State
Architect is a relatively recent position within national or
state public administration. In addition, in the European
context this is still the exception and mostly a northern
European phenomenon. As such, some questions can
be raised about the role and importance of such a posi-
tion. Which are the practical advantages of having a
State Architect? Does government need a State Archi-
tect position to deliver good spatial design leadership?
If yes, what are its main competences and instruments?
Last but not least, what has been the impact of State
Architects on processes of design governance?
This is the type of questions to which this chapter will
try to provide an answer. As explained in Section 2.3,
besides three states that have a State Architect team
– Flanders, Ireland and Scotland – it was decided to
also select two additional states that do not have such
a position – Austria and Denmark –, with the aim to
explore their design governance system, the design
advisor teams that may exist and the way in which gov-
ernmental spatial design leadership takes place. Fol-
lowing this approach, it would be possible to compare
models of spatial design leadership that feature State
Architect teams with models that provide spatial design
leadership in other ways.
In this context, this Chapter will describe the five
selected case studies. For each of them, there will be
a brief description of the public policy on architecture
and objectives, the main actors and its design policy
tools, as well as other relevant actors. The following
chapters will carry out a comparative analysis on the
different models found, in their main differences and
similarities. The first (Chapter 6) will discuss the main
advantages of having a State Architect team, the main
policy instruments and any limitations. The second
(Chapter 7) will look across the five case studies and
discuss the importance of spatial design leadership.
Finally, a last chapter will present some conclusions on
the role, instruments and impact of States Architect (or
similar) teams in fostering a placemaking culture.
5.1.1 The architectural policy of Ireland
The development of the first Irish architectural policy
goes back to early nineties, when a working group of
experts was set up within the Royal Institute of the
Architects of Ireland (RIAI) to prepare a policy draft
and deliver it to the government. These efforts led to
the establishment of a governmental interdepartmen-
tal working group that developed a public consultation
document, which was approved by the Council of Min-
isters in 1996. This first step represented a major mile-
stone for the Irish policy development as, for the first
time, Ireland had an official document at the national
level recognizing the social and cultural importance of
Fig. 3 – Irish public consultation document
on architectural policy (1996)
Despite these initial steps, it would take seven years for
the adoption of the first formal Irish architectural policy.
In 1997, four months after the consultation process, a
first architecture policy statement was approved set-
ting the basis for an action programme. However, due
to several political changes, only in 2000 a new inter-
departmental working group was established to define
concrete policy actions and initiatives. Finally, in 2002,
Ireland’s first policy on architecture was adopted, under
the title: Action on Architecture 2002-2005.
Fig. 4 – First Irish architectural policy (2002)
As its name suggests, the first formal Irish architectural
policy defined a programme embracing action. The pol-
icy’s main aim was ‘to place architecture higher on the
political and cultural agenda and in so doing to remove
impediments to the achievement of a built environment
of good quality’ (Ireland, 2002, p. 5). However, at the
end of its implementation period in 2005, the policy’s
lack of practical results began to come to light. One
of the reasons for this was a strong restructuring of
the Irish government in 2002. The Department of Arts
ceased to exist and the architectural policy respon-
sibilities were transferred to the new Department of
Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Con-
sequently, only some of the actions envisaged would
come to fruition (Mee & Wakely, 2008, p. 24).8
Nevertheless, the architectural policy action 11, which
provided for the creation of a new Virtual Architecture
Centre, would facilitate the establishment of the Irish
Architecture Foundation (IAF), in 2005. As such, in an
indirect way, the first Irish architectural policy facilitated
the creation of the IAF, enabling an institutional part-
nership between public and private actors in which
everyone contributed with a certain amount to support
the new Irish Architecture Foundation financially, which
agreement is still maintained today.
After the implementation period of the first architec-
tural policy, which ran from 2002 to 2005, work on the
development of a revised policy on architecture com-
menced. In October 2007, the government appointed a
steering committee with representatives from a broad
spectrum of the public and private sectors and three
focus groups. A series of public consultation meetings
coordinated by the IAF were held throughout the coun-
try, and a website was created as part of the public
consultation process. Finally, in June 2009, the gov-
ernment adopted the new policy entitled Towards a
sustainable future: Delivering quality within the built
Fig. 5 – Second Irish architectural policy (2009)
8 One of the few Architectural policy actions delivered was the creation
of a biennial award aimed at young practitioners.
Building on the previous policy, the 2009 policy docu-
ment introduced 15 new key policy statements, plac-
ing more emphasis on sustainable development and
urban design. As such, the concept of place-making
is more central than in the previous version. Never-
theless, it continues to ‘encourage and support high
quality modern architecture, incorporating architec-
tural heritage in a holistic, integrated manner’ (Ireland,
2009, p. 2). In addition, the new policy continues to
promote ‘awareness and understanding of the contri-
bution of good design to the daily life and well-being
of society as a whole’ (Ibidem, p. 6). The revised policy
contains 45 actions divided into six parts, covering a
number of recurring themes. Its implementation pro-
gramme extends for seven years and the execution of
its actions is distributed among several public and pri-
vate stakeholders.
Unlike the first period, there was a strong commitment
from the government to implement the policy action
plan. One of the factors that contributed to the good
levels of success was the ability to work across differ-
ent departments. Considering the transversal aims of
the GPA, one of the main difficulties in policy imple-
mentation is to get enough political support to be able
to persuade the different departments and state agen-
cies to follow and execute the assigned policy actions.
As will be seen, this problem cuts across all the case
One of the first actions that was put in place was the
change of title of the Principal Architect in the Office
of Public Works (OPW) to State Architect of Ireland
(GPA Action 6). Besides the change in the title, the
State Architect also held a higher position in OPW
hierarchy. To improve the co-ordination of the policy
implementation, two structures were also established:
1) an Advisory Committee, a high-level advisory group
of stakeholders/partners to advise the government on
policy actions delivery and implementation; and 2) the
Implementation Group, an inter-sectoral platform that
managed aspects concerning the implementation of the
actions as required. In addition, to administer the policy
and better coordinate the actions, it was decided to
have a full-time person responsible for monitoring the
policy actions on an ongoing basis. The higher number
of actors involved in the delivery of the actions is note-
worthy, which may be a problem if the partners do not
collaborate. This will be examined in the next chapter.
5.1.2 The State Architect of Ireland:
role and instruments
As mentioned above, one of the first measures put in
place by the second Irish architectural policy was the
change of title from Principal Architect in the Office
of Public Works (OPW) to State Architect of Ireland.
According to the Irish architectural policy (2009), the
State Architect is responsible for ‘leading and man-
aging the OPW architectural team, with oversight of
the architectural input to construction projects, mainte-
nance of the quality of the fabric of the state’s property
portfolio and the conservation of heritage properties
in state care, as well as being the main advisor to the
Government in relation to architectural matters.
The Architectural Services division of the OPW is in
charge of architectural design, construction and sup-
port services for most public facilities except schools
and hospitals, and develops a wide range of projects,
including major restoration and refurbishment projects
for historic properties and cultural institutions, office
accommodation for government departments and
other agencies, police stations, prisons, social welfare
offices, etc. Besides managing the Architectural Ser-
vices, the State Architect role also includes the follow-
ing functions:
advising on the implementation of the Architecture
Policy Actions;
contributing to the Government Construction
Contracts Committee (GCCC) to developing pro-
curement and contracting policies in support of
design quality in State funded projects;
advising on legislation and regulations affecting
quality in architecture and the built environment;
give unrequested advice regarding the design
quality of all infrastructural programmes.
In this sense, the State Architect assumes a multi-fac-
eted role leading the Architectural Services of the
OPW and promoting a culture of best practice inside
the state. In short, his role is to champion design quality
in public buildings, similarly to other States Architects
elsewhere (see chapter 4).
At first glance, the change of the title by itself does
not seem to have much impact on how the other state
departments manage the design quality of their own
construction works. However, the current State Archi-
tect mentioned that the new title has given him a stron-
ger position inside the government as well as the abil-
ity to persuade other departments to raise the design
quality of their projects (2018: interview). In fact, the
State Architect sits at the board of OPW administra-
tion at the same level as the other first line directors
reporting directly to the general manager. Therefore,
his power of influence across OPW was reinforced
in terms of hierarchy, which also give him more status
inside the wider public administration (Ibidem).
The current State Architect of Ireland mentioned that
the new title has brought on a reinforced authority
to demand better buildings from other departments,
which otherwise would not feel obliged to receive
advice from someone outside their organization (2018:
interview). In this framework, he mentioned that the
status of State Architect has helped him in several sit-
uations, for example in meetings with different groups
or in making an argument for the need to pay greater
attention to design quality (Ibidem). Regarding public
agencies responsible for public-private partnerships
for example, which generally say that they do not have
to follow his advice because they are a different organi-
zation, the State Architect explained that “if they do not
[agree to] raise the design standards he would go to
the office of the Prime Minister and complain that they
are not cooperating (ibid.).
An additional perspective on the significance of the
title was offered by Kathryn Meghen, the director of the
RIAI, who pointed out that it also carried a symbolic
importance, both within the country and as a senior
representative abroad (2018: interview). In her words,
“it shows an acknowledgement by the government that
they value what architects have to contribute” (Ibid).
In terms of his position within the official government
structure (as opposed to an independent role found
in other case studies), the Irish State Architect (2018:
interview) believes that it is vital for his work, mainly
because it means he gets to be part of policy making
early on in the process. In his view, having his office be
part of the formal government structure means that the
State Architect is not a political appointment, affiliated
with any particular party, and can therefore ensure con-
sistency and maintain his influence as expert across
government changes.
Following the discussion on chapter 3 about design
leadership, it is possible to conclude that the position
of State Architect, attributed to someone with a rec-
ognized ‘professional status’, plays an important role
in championing design quality throughout the govern-
mental structure. To achieve this, it is necessary to have
a continuous action that is not awarded legal status
and cannot be measured in terms of specific outputs.
Most of these soft actions include informal talks with
key actors, convincing them for the need to raise stan-
dards and adopt a long-term approach towards a more
social and environmentally sustainable built outcomes.
Selection procedure
The position of State Architect in Ireland is a seven-year
mandate. According to the State Architect, the selec-
tion and appointment procedure is very demanding,
including several stages and interviews (2018: inter-
view). Applicants are required to take an aptitude test
and, in the final stage, to present their vision for what
they want to achieve during their tenure and answer
questions on that. The application is publicly advertised
and open to anyone, including international applicants.
5.1.3 Other relevant actors
Built Heritage and Architectural Policy
Unit / Department of heritage
The Built Heritage and Architectural Policy Unit is
responsible for the development and cross-sectoral
coordination of the Government Policy on Architec-
ture 2009-2015 implementation, which involves ongo-
ing interdepartmental and agency co-operation. The
work requires the involvement of: the Department of
the Environment, Heritage and Local Government; the
Department of Education and Skills; the Department of
Arts, Sport and Tourism; the Department of Finance;
the OPW, professional bodies and institutions such as
the RIAI and the IAF; state agencies etc.
It also assumes the following functions and services:
Providing an administrative, policy and legislative
framework to protect architectural heritage as a
national resource;
Promoting increased public awareness and appre-
ciation of architecture and national built heritage;
Ensuring that built heritage is conserved, managed
and planned, for an effective, sustainable manage-
ment of heritage resources;
Promoting best practice in contemporary architec-
ture and urban design.
Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF)
As mentioned, in an indirect way, the first Irish architec-
tural policy facilitated the creation of the IAF, enabling
an institutional partnership between public and private
actors in which everyone contributed with a certain
amount to support the new IAF financially (Table 2).
Table 2 – Principal Core Funding
Contributions to IAF in 2008
Source Amount €
Arts Council 58,000
DOEHLG 60,000
Dublin City Council 30,000
Office of Public Works 30,000
RIAI 50,000
TOTAL 228,000
(based on the Report of the Arts Council
Public Engagement & Architecture, 2008)
Following the discussion on chapter 3, IAF constitutes
a national design champion promoting the cultural value
of architecture and advocating for better design in the
built environment. Among several initiatives aimed at
broader audiences, it organizes expositions, educa-
tional programmes, etc. According to its website, the
IAF is a “focal point for the many people and organi-
sations that wish to champion the power of architec-
ture to transform lives and improve the places where
we live and work. Through a programme of self-initi-
ated events, it inspires people to become thoughtful
and engaged stewards of the visual landscape.
As such, the IAF has become an important player in the
Irish context. Recalling its mission, its strategic focus
is to promote the value of architecture and engage the
public in design. Soon after its establishment, the IAF
managed the Loving Architecture festival (2005) and
since 2006 it has managed the Open House, offering
the public an opportunity to visit buildings of architec-
tural interest. In 2008, the IAF was responsible for man-
aging the public consultation process on behalf of the
government, aimed at informing the development of a
new national architecture policy, while also co-curating
Ireland’s entry to the Venice Biennale of Architecture.
Considering that IAF is a small organization, with only
two full-time staff, its importance seems to exceed its
current capabilities. The Foundation is linked to the
State Architect’s office, by means of financial as well
as operational support and board membership. As in
other case studies, this relationship between the State
Architect team and an external cultural body seems to
be beneficial for both parties.
Arts Council / Architecture division
The Architecture division of the Irish Arts Council pro-
motes a national programme entitled ‘Engagement with
Architecture’, which provides funding for specific archi-
tecture culture initiatives aiming to enhance the pub-
lic’s experience of architecture. They also offer travel
& training awards as well as an open call for exper-
imental, ambitious projects. These schemes can be
awarded to architecture-related projects, but they are
open to a range of artistic fields and practices – and,
as such, it’s not the built environment per se that is their
focus, rather the cultural dimension of architecture.
Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI)
The RIAI is the professional body responsible for the
regulation of the profession, ensuring that standards
are put in place and upheld. They are also active in two
further areas, supporting and promoting. Supporting
refers to the representation of the views of Ireland’s
architects on a wide range of industry bodies and inter-
national organisation, while promoting includes events
and awards, producing guidelines for architectural
practice and supporting its members.
Kevin Street Divisional Garda
(Police) Headquarters
OPW Architects
Year: 2018
Dublin, Ireland
Artur Sikora
Ceide Fields Visitor Center
OPW Architects
Year: 1993
County Mayo, Ireland
Masterplan And Landscaping
For Backweston Laboratory
OPW Architects
Celbridge, Co.kildare, Ireland
Year: 2005
Wexford Garda (Police)
Regional Headquarters
OPW Architects
Year: 2018
Wexford, Ireland
Aisling Mccoy
Kevin Street Divisional Garda
(Police) Headquarters
OPW Architects
Year: 2018
Dublin, Ireland
Artur Sikora
Waterford Courthouse
OPW Architects
Year: 2018
Waterford, Ireland
Conservation maintenance
and management works
at Skellig Michael (Sceilg
Mhichíl) (Unesco World
Heritage Site)
OPW National Monuments
OPW grant funds the Irish
Architectural Archive to the
sum of €30,000 annually
The mission of the IAA is to collect
and preserve material of every kind
relating to the architecture of the
entire island of Ireland, and make it
available to the public.
The collections housed by the
Archive comprise the largest body
of historic architectural records
in Ireland and as such constitute
a vital national cultural resource.
They include the most significant
body of historic Irish architectural
drawings in the world, with in
excess of 2.5 million drawings and
related documents ranging in date
from the late seventeenth to the
early twenty-first centuries. Also
housed in the Archive are over
500,000 photographs, making
it one of the largest collections
of photographs in Ireland, and
an extensive reference library,
with more than 25,000 items of
printed matter. The holdings of
the Irish Architectural Archive
contain material - primary or
secondary - on every notable Irish
architect, on every important Irish
building period or style, and on
most significant buildings in the 32
counties of Ireland.
The Blasket Island Visitor
OPW Architects
Year: 1993
Dun Chaoin, Dingle Peninsula, Co.
Kerry, Ireland
Wexford Opera House
OPW Architects and Keith
Year: 2008
Wexford, Ireland
The State Laboratories
OPW Architects
Year: 2005
Co. Kildare, Ireland
Office Accommodation
Grafton Architects
Year: 2009
Dublin, Ireland
Denis Gilbert
Refurbishment of the National
Gallery of Ireland
Heneghan Peng
Year: 2017
Dublin, Ireland
Marie-Louise Halpenny
Drogheda Courthouse
OPW Architects
Year: 2017
Drogheda, Ireland
The Marine Institute
OPW Architects
Year: 2006
Oranmore, Co. Galway, Ireland
Contributing to the production
of building standards covering
the ‘Conservation of Fuel and
Energy – Buildings other than
Dwellings’ along with other
government departments
Year: 2017
The Restoration of the
Palmhouse Complex
OPW Architects
Year: 2004
National Botanic Gardens,
Dublin, Ireland
Ross Kavanagh
Commemorative Bridge
To be announced pending result of
completition (feb 2019)
Year: 2018
Irish National War Memorial
Gardens, Dublin, Ireland
Wexford Courthouse
Newenham Mulligan & Associates
(Nma) And Wejchert Architects
Year Of Completion:
Wygram Place, Wexford
Fionn McCann Advisory Role:
The Office of the State Architect
has participated in an advisory role
on a number of significant public
infrastructural projects including:
The National Children’s Hospital
The Central Bank Headquarters
Open House Event, organised
by Irish Architecture
Foundation (IAF) is an
architectural festival where
buildings are opened to the
public over a 3 day period in
October every year
The OPW participates, assists in
the organisation and part funds
the event.
The events in 2018 saw over
31,088 visits to 170 events across
A total of 29 no. OPW operated
buildings took part attracting
9,112 visitors
OPW grant aids the IAF €30,000
Letterkenny Courthouse
OPW Architects
Year: 2017
Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, Ireland
EU Food And Veterinary
OPW Architects
Year: 2002
Grange, Co. Meath, Ireland
Doolin Coastguard Station
Dominic Stevens Architects With
Dorman Architects
Year: 2014
Doolin, Co. Clare, Ireland
Ross Kavanagh
In terms of administrative structure, Scotland has had
its own devolved Parliament and Government since
1998, with the power to legislate in all areas of policy
except for those overarching ones reserved to the UK
government (such as immigration, foreign policy, and
defence). The devolved government runs the country in
relation to all other matters; its responsibilities include
health, education, justice, rural affairs, housing and the
The government is structured into a number of direc-
torates which, with their internal divisions as well as via
related public bodies, are responsible for putting policy
into practice10. Planning and architecture are a respon-
sibility of the Local Government and Communities
Directorate, as a specific policy area and, organisation-
ally, a separate division operating under a Chief Plan-
ner. Within that operates the internal division of Archi-
tecture & Place, headed by the Chief Architect, whose
functions run the gamut of built environment aspects,
from housing and heritage to community engagement,
promotion and advocacy or development delivery11.
5.2.1 The architectural policy of Scotland
The development of the Scottish architectural policy
started with the Scottish devolution process in 1997.
Within this process, the Government Programme,
drafted by a coalition agreement between the Labour
Party and the Liberal Democrats, included the following
initiative: “We will develop the first ever national policy
on architecture’ (Scotland, 1999)12.
In September 1999, four months after the Scottish
elections, the new Executive published a framework
document for public consultation entitled ‘The devel-
opment of a Policy on Architecture for Scotland’, set-
ting out the issues, the range of policy objectives and
actions (Scotland, 1999).
9 (accessed 15/8/2018)
10 (accessed
Scottish-Government/SG-contacts/TeamStructures (accessed
12 The idea of developing a formal architectural policy was in part
influenced by several architectural major events at the end of nineties:
the national debate on the design of the new Parliament building,
which was animated by the results of an international competition
and exhibition; the Glasgow year of architecture and the recent
establishment of a national centre for architecture and design, The
Fig. 6 – Scottish public consultation document on archi-
tectural policy (1999)
Under the coordination of the Chief Architect’s Office,
a series of public meetings was held across Scotland
to collect views and comments on the policy docu-
ment (LGC, 2000). Following the consultation period,
the first architectural Policy in Scotland was formally
adopted by the Parliament, in 2001.
The main aim of the Scottish policy was ‘to seek
improvements in the quality of Scotland’s buildings,
both public and private, and in the quality of the built
environment’ (2001, p. 4). To achieve this broad aim,
the policy advocated for a wider recognition of the
importance and value of good design identified five key
objectives. To achieve these objectives, the Scottish
policy established 40 government actions intended
to help raise awareness of the value of good building
design and to promote recognition of the importance of
architecture (Scotland, 2005).
Fig. 7 – First Scottish architectural policy (2001)
One of the first policy outputs was the establishment of
funding to deliver a wide range of activities, events and
initiatives in support of architecture. In 2005, the Archi-
tecture and Design Scotland (A&DS) was established
as an independent national champion for good archi-
tecture, design and planning in the built environment.
Considered a major policy achievement, A&DS took
over and expanded the activities of the Royal Fine Art
Commission for Scotland (RFACS). The role of A&DS
will be explored further ahead.
In 2006, the Scottish Executive published a strategy on
the future of cultural policy. There was a commitment to
‘develop and launch a new architectural policy state-
ment, with a strengthened role to influence the quality
of the built environment’ (2006, p. 53). In 2007, a new
architectural policy document was adopted. Although
the new Scottish policy was only signed by the Cul-
ture Minister, it stated that there was a need to expand
the policy scope to a wider urban design agenda plac-
ing an emphasis on the broad concept of place-mak-
ing (Scotland, 2007, p. 10). As such, the scope of the
revised Scottish policy was expanded to the whole built
environment advocating an urban design approach.
Fig. 8 – Second Scottish architectural policy (2007)
The main aim of the second Scottish policy remained
basically the same but with greater focus on place
quality and sustainability. The policy argued that poor
design still remained evident in many parts of Scot-
land, mainly in the periphery of cities (Scotland, 2007).
Hence, there was a need for a reinforced architectural
policy that could stimulate a virtuous circle of produc-
tion, promoting more awareness of the added value of
In 2008, the Scottish Government created a new
Directorate for the Built Environment, bringing together
interests on planning, building standards and archi-
tecture. As part of this reform, the Architectural Policy
Unit merged with the Design Division of Planning to
form the new Architecture and Place Division (APD).
In May 2012, the APD published a paper to underpin a
public consultation process discussing how architec-
ture and place could help provide a better quality of
life. After several public meetings, the Scottish Gov-
ernment adopted a new Architecture and Place Policy,
in June 2013.
Fig. 9 – Third Scottish architectural policy (2013)
The revised policy was signed by the Culture Secre-
tary and the Minister for Local Government and Plan-
ning. Thus Scotland had, for the first time, a national
inter-ministerial policy for the built environment.
Despite the new scope and strategy, the third Scottish
policy builds upon the solid foundation of the previous
policies, maintaining more or less the same concep-
tual framework, objectives and tools. Nevertheless, the
Chief Architect (2018: interview) referred that:
“this more close connection between planning
and design policy was made possible due
to team work resultant from the new
Architecture and Place Division.”
About the cultural connections and engagement
objectives, the revised policy continues to encourage
debate on the role of architecture and to enhance the
understanding of building design through several cul-
tural programs, mostly delivered by A+DS. As such,
A+DS continues to have a pivotal role with regard to
the implementation of architectural policy through its
enabling activities and services of design review, both
at the national and local level.
In terms of implementation mechanisms, the Policy
on Architecture Progress Group (PAPG) was estab-
lished to provide a permanent platform to assist in the
co-ordination of initiatives across departments, to mon-
itor the success of the policy actions and to provide
a forum. Due to the transversal nature of architectural
policy, the position of Chief Architect and the existence
of an interdepartmental platform appear to be a criti-
cal strategy to turn design quality into a corporate aim
across government.
5.2.2 The Chief Architect of Scotland:
role and instruments
The position of Chief Architect already existed within
Scotland’s public administration before the Scot-
tish devolution process in 1997. Nevertheless, in May
1999, after the regional elections to elect its deputies
and constitute a Government, the Scottish Executive
took possession and started working on a draft for the
first national Scottish architecture policy, under the
coordination of the Chief Architect’s Office. In 2001,
with the formal approval of the first Scottish architec-
tural policy the Chief Architects Office became the
Architecture Policy Unit (APU), with the Chief Architect
of Scotland as head of the unit.
In this context, APU had the co-ordinating role on
architecture and building design quality issues, across
Executive Departments and beyond, developing stron-
ger links with external bodies. Adding to this, in 2004,
the Minister of Culture established the Policy on Archi-
tecture Progress Group to inform Executive decisions
on initiatives to take forward the implementation of
policy commitments and to provide a platform to assist
in the co-ordination of initiatives between built envi-
ronment bodies in Scotland and representatives from
across Executive Departments. The Group also had the
task of monitoring the success of actions taken and
providing a networking forum.
As mentioned earlier, in 2008, the Scottish Govern-
ment created a new Directorate for the Built Environ-
ment, bringing together interests on planning, build-
ing standards and architecture. As part of this reform,
the Architectural Policy Unit (APU) merged with the
Design Division of Planning to form the new Architec-
ture and Place Division (APD), which means that the
same governmental unit was now in charge of both the
Architecture and Place policies.
APD is led by the Chief Architect and its main role
is to promote quality in design and the built environ-
ment, namely, by advising Ministers on design aspects
of planning and for the development and implementa-
tion of policies on design in the built environment. A
key focus of the Chief Architect team is the promotion
of the importance of design considerations in reaching
planning decisions. The Chief Architect also takes for-
ward programmes which link good design in the built
environment to the goals and objective for the Direc-
torate for the Built Environment. In sum, the role of the
Chief Architect and its supporting division is to help
turn policy intentions into action, with a view to:
create successful, thriving and sustainable com-
deliver better public buildings which contribute
to improved service delivery and represent good
value for money; and
tackle the barriers to good quality development,
through education, skills and advocacy.
To do so, APD promotes best practice in planning,
architecture and design by assessing authorities’ per-
formance, namely through the planning performance
framework, and also by funding external organisa-
tions and supporting a number of events, awards and
APD publishes quarterly and annual statistics on
timescales and approval rates for planning applica-
tions. These statistics also provide information on
local reviews and enforcement activity. All planning
authorities, and seven of the key agencies, prepare
an annual Planning Performance Framework (PPF)
report which provides a measurement of quality of
the planning service and how it can be improved.
APD also assess the reports against a set of 15
key performance markers. In this framework, APD
prepare an annual Planning Performance Frame-
work (PPF) report; the Directorate for Planning
produces an annual review of the Planning and
Environmental Appeals Division 2015-16.
Funding: Architecture and Design Scotland
In 2017-18, APD provided funding of £1,670,000
to Architecture and Design Scotland (A&DS) to
promote the value of good architecture and sus-
tainable places in support of current policy. A+DS
is an executive non-departmental public body
(NDPB) which provides exhibitions, events and
an education programme for the public as well as
advice, resources and support to practitioners in
the built environment sector.
Awards & Events
The APD supports, in various ways, awards for:
Quality in Planning, Best Building in Scotland
(annually), Client of the Year (recognising the other
side of architectural projects), a number of the-
matic ones (for housing design, positive impact in
local communities, photography) and finally one for
student design work. APD was actively involved in
Scotland’s contribution to the 2016 Venice Bien-
nale, while at the same period they helped facili-
tate a year-long celebration of Scottish innovation
and talent (Year of Architecture and Design 2016),
and a specific Festival of Architecture as part of
that. All these were delivered in collaboration with
other cultural or industry bodies.
Scottish Scenic Routes Pilots
The Scottish Scenic Routes pilot programme,
launched in June 2013, has resulted in the design
and construction of eight innovatively designed
viewpoints at popular visitor spots. The proposals
for each pilot site were selected through design
competitions aimed at supporting emerging design
talent. The initiative was supported by a number of
According to the Chief Architect (2018: interview),
its position is important to get different state actors
involved in the policy formulation, to monitor the policy
progress and improve inter-departmental co-ordina-
tion promoting design quality as a corporate aim. The
Chief Architect also mentioned that he is able to work
across departments, partly due to the relatively small,
manageable size of the Scottish Government, and
partly due the current administration’s attitude towards
inter-departmental cooperation – the desired goal, as
he described it, is a model where “the departments
won’t really matter as much as what the outcomes are,
and some of these outcomes are shared” (2018: inter-
view). Per his descriptions, he works in close proxim-
ity to other departments, both operationally (towards
common aims, such as improving education) as well as
physically (“I can walk down the corridor and in a few
seconds talk to colleagues in Education” – Ibid.), the
latter being no less important.
Nevertheless, other interviewee mentioned that the
Chief Architect could be placed higher in the gov-
ernmental structure, to increase his or her capacity to
demand higher design standards in other public agen-
cies outside his department. This means that, despite
the title and the small team that supports its activities,
inter-departmental barriers will continue to be a difficult
challenge if the Chief Architect does not have enough
political support (Bento, 2017).
5.2.3 Other relevant actors
Architecture and Design Scotland (A&DS)
As explained, the Architecture and Design Scotland
(A&DS) was established in 2005 as an independent
national champion for good architecture, design and
planning in the built environment. A&DS is an executive
non-departmental public body (NDPB) which deliv-
ers exhibitions, events and an education programme
for the public as well as advice, resources and sup-
port to practitioners in the built environment sector.
Considered a major policy achievement, A&DS took
over and expanded the activities of the Royal Fine Art
Commission for Scotland (RFACS). Inspired by the
former English CABE, one of the A&DS roles is to
develop design review at national level, which is a UK
In 2009, due to financial difficulties, most of the activities
of The Lighthouse were transferred to A&DS. Through-
out the years, A&DS continued to develop several proj-
ects. One of them was working with the Scottish Gov-
ernment Health & Social Care Directorate (SGHSCD)
and Health Facilities Scotland (HFS) to support Health
Boards and create better health buildings and places,
by ‘assisting those commissioning new, or substantially
redeveloped facilities, to set strategic design standards
for the project’ (A&DS website, consulted July 2015).
In 2017-18, the Scottish executive provided funding
of £1,670,000 to A&DS to promote the value of good
architecture and sustainable places in support of cur-
rent architecture and place policy.
Interestingly, in all the case studies, state governments
have set up a specific institution to champion the cause
of good design, promoting the importance of architec-
ture amongst wider audiences, working with planning
authorities and the development industry. For the Scot-
tish case, the Chief Architect commented specifically
on the role of the A&DS, starting with a recognition
that, as an external organisation, it has more freedom
than his own office – to work with a wider range of cli-
ents, or directly with communities, for example (2018:
Maintaining autonomy is then crucial for the role that
these institutions play, but only as part of a balance
where the other end is a close working relationship with
the ‘insiders’, in this case the Chief Architect. The CEO
of A&DS describes the position as “a voice that has an
independence, but not an entirely separate view from
the government. We are charged with delivering gov-
ernment policy and to advise on how to do that best,
so that sits slightly different from the absolutely inde-
pendent voice who might question government policy”
(2018: interview).
Creating Places 2013:
Cultural Connections
“The development of creative
places should be encouraged
as an effective approach to
delivering high quality sustainable
V&A Dundee – new design
museum delivered as part of
Dundee’s waterfront regeneration,
supported by Scottish
Government grant of £25million.
Architect Kengo Kuma
Ian Gilzean
Creating Places 2013
Engagement and Empowerment –
Design processes should harness
the knowledge of communities
and encourage active participation
in the design process to deliver
accessible, quality places
Images: Westbank Street Design
Workshop supported by Scottish
Government grant to develop
community led design proposal for
a key site in Portobello, Edinburgh
Ian Gilzean
Innovative design and
delivery of housing:
Self and Custom Build
Challenge Fund launched
December 2017.
The Scottish Government is
supporting seven pilots to
encourage more user-involvement
in the design of housing sites
across the country. Images from
the Dundashill presentation event.
6 architects were asked by the
client, Scottish Canals to develop
a custom-build prototype for the
redevelopment of Dundashill
adjacent to canal-side site in North
Scottish Canals
Designing Streets 2011:
Street design must consider
place before movement
The Scottish Government worked
with house-builder Mactaggart
and Mickel to demonstrate how
‘Designing Streets’ policy could be
applied on an exemplar residential
development in East Renfrewshire
Proctor Matthews
Kristen Anderson
The Place
Standard Tool
launched December 2015: The
Place Standard tool provides an
accessible way for communities
to evaluate the quality of their
place from a quality and health
perspective. The Place Standard
tool has been extremely effective
in action and won the RTPI’s
UK National Award Planning
Excellence Award in 2017. The
World Health Organisation
held a Healthy Cities Network
masterclass in Edinburgh in 2017
and the tool has been translated
into Danish and Dutch for use in
Denmark and the Netherlands
Place Standard masterclass –
Edinburgh City Council
Place Standard app accessible on
Place Standard in use on site in
Sydhaven, Copenhagen during
CityLink Festivall workshop
September 2017
Ian Gilzean
Creating Places 2013:
Cultural Connections
The Scottish Government worked
in partnership with RIAS on
the 2016 Year of Innovation,
Architecture and Design with
many events taking place
over the course of the year to
promote the quality Scotland’s
built environment to international
visitors and engage the public at
Images from Scotland’s Word
Cities Expo – ‘pop-up’ innovative
low cost pavilion installations from
a number European cities adjacent
to National Galleries of Scotland,
June 2016
Bergen pavilion
Dundee Pavilion architect
Kengo Kuma
Ian Gilzean
Scotland’s Housing
Expo 2010
Supported by Scottish
Government and Highland
Council, Scotland’s Housing
Expo at Milton of Leys on the
edge of Inverness showcased
innovative sustainable housing.
Place-making, low energy design
and new construction techniques
were applied in the 50 house site
to engage the public about the
future of housing and provide a
well-designed alternative to the
standard housing developments
around the growing city of
Inverness. A mixture of housing for
sale and social rent were selected
after a design competition in
2007 and were opened up to the
public in August 2010 attracting
over 30,000 visitors. 8 years on
the housing is fully occupied,
the landscape has matured and
the Expo continues to act as a
reference point for innovation in
housing design
Masterplan by:
Ian Gilzean
International engagement
‘The Happenstance’ Scotland’s
contribution to the 2018 Venice
Biennale at the Palazzo Zenobio
created a new garden and
resource for the local community
to reflect the overall curatorial
theme of ‘Freespace’. As well
as creating a well-loved and
critically acclaimed event space,
the curators of The Happenstance
Wave Particle/Architecture and
Design Scotland showcased
creative collaborations between
artists, architects and young
people and the innovative
approach to co-creation of
under used spaces which has
been emerged in recent years in
Ian Gilzean
Flanders is the Dutch-speaking northern part of the
Kingdom of Belgium13, which is established as a fed-
eral constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary
system of governance. Belgium is divided into three
highly autonomous regions – the Flemish Region, the
Brussels Capital Region and the Walloon Region – and
three communities: the Dutch-speaking region of Flan-
ders in the north, the French-speaking Wallonia region
in the south, and the German-speaking cantons in the
east14. Despite this division, the Federal Government
continues to have several political powers, such as,
foreign affairs, national defence, justice, finance, social
security, etc.15 The Regional and Community govern-
ments have a wide range of specific competencies: the
Regional government is responsible for material sub-
jects (housing, environment, space planning, econ-
omy, employment, mobility, infrastructure, etc.) and the
Community government is responsible for personal
issues (education, culture, sport, health, etc.).
In the case of Flanders, the Flemish government is
the executive branch for both Flemish Community and
Flemish Region of Belgium as their institutions were
merged resulting in one Parliament and one Govern-
ment16. Therefore, for the present study, the term ‘Flan-
ders’ will be used to refer to the Flemish state in the
wider sense, including all the administrative structures
independently of divisions of competences that may
occur at the state level.
5.3.1 The architectural policy of Flanders
Although Flanders does not have an architectural policy
formalized into a document approved by the Parliament
or the Council of Ministers, considering a wider notion
of public policy, the Flemish architectural policy has
been formalized through the adoption of several spe-
cific policy documents and by the establishment of two
architectural institutions, namely, the Flemish Govern-
ment Architect in 1998 and the Flanders Architecture
Institute (VAI) in 2001.
Some years before, the Government started to develop
efforts to promote architecture and urban design with
the publication of “Flanders Architectural Yearbooks” in
1993. Since then, every two years, the Department of
13 Belgium has three official languages: Dutch, French and German.
14 Adding to this, Flanders and Wallonia regions are subdivided in ten
provinces, which in turn are subdivided into communes and cities
15 (accessed in 8 August 2018)
16 Ibidem.
Culture supports this publication, which gives an over-
view of recent architectural designs and public spaces
together with essays on important issues and develop-
ments in the field of architecture and urbanism in Flan-
ders. For this, a group of experts is appointed inside
and outside the country to make a meaningful selection
of buildings and public spaces for inclusion in the Year-
book (Schreurs, 2000, p. 63).
Nevertheless, it was noticed that in seven years there
were only six government buildings in the yearbooks.
Despite the government’s good intentions to pro-
mote better built environments, there was little evi-
dence of higher standards in public building policy
(Ibidem). This means that the Flemish government had
the practical challenge of leading by example, demon-
strating its commitment to design quality through its
own buildings. In practical terms, there was a need to
place design quality as a corporate aim across Flem-
ish complex public administration, which did not “show
the slightest interest in architecture as an expression
of contemporary culture or as an instrument for a sus-
tainable use of space. Government commissions were
regarded as infrastructural work and implemented with
a logic of an engineer.” (Vervloesem&Sterken, 2006; in
Ibelings, 2009).
According to Schreurs (2000), it was a continuous crit-
icism of the quality of public buildings in Flanders that
led the then Minister of Finance, Budget and Health
Policy, Wivina de Meester, to take the first step towards
the development of a Flemish architectural policy. To
tackle this state of affairs, partially influenced by the
example of The Netherlands, that had a Chief Govern-
ment Architect, the Flemish Government decided to
create a similar position to promote a culture of best
practices inside public administration and beyond: “It
was clearly part of an articulated political willingness
to change something in the region and to shake of the
stigma of belonging to one of the ugliest country in the
world. (Ibelings, 2009)
The main role of the Flemish Government Architect was
to provide long-term support to regional government in
preparing and implementing an architectural policy that
would promote high quality environments in Flanders
(Schreurs, 2000, p. 63). The Government Architect
was required to ‘stimulate and inspire Flemish archi-
tectural awareness, as a way of increasing a cultural
responsibility on the part of authorities, the relevant
industry and the public’ (Ibidem).
Appointed in 1999, the first Government Architect, Bob
Van Reeth, one of the most prominent Flemish archi-
tects, who fulfilled this function from 1999 to 2005,
would benefit from his high moral authority and powers
of persuasion to be accepted throughout public admin-
istration (Ibid.). Since the beginning of his mandate that
Bob Van Reeth started to receive numerous requests
to provide design advice on projects and participate in
competition juries. In this framework, he set up a ‘qual-
ity chamber’ to give continues advice on projects and
comprehensive consideration to architectural policy
on government buildings. This led to the development
of the Open Call, a method of selection architects for
design assignment requested by public bodies17.
Beside the position of the Flemish Government Archi-
tect, there was a political recognition that to create
better places it was also necessary to foster a culture
of placemaking and raise public awareness on the value
of design quality. Within the Flemish Cultural Policy, the
government decided to establish the Flanders Archi-
tectural Institute (VAI), which would be responsible by
the publication of the architectural yearbook, organiz-
ing exhibitions and other activities aimed at making a
general public aware of architecture and urban design.
As the former Minister of Culture, Bert Anciaux, suc-
cinctly formulated in 2002:
“my architectural policy is (…) in the first place a
consciousness-raising policy: inviting people to
take a good look at that physical, designed envi-
ronment, getting them to think about the influ-
ence that this has on everyday activities, bringing
them into contact with good examples, and
convincing them that the choice of good architec-
ture is good not only for themselves but for the
whole community.” (Bert Ancieux, Forward, in:
Flanders Architectural Yearbook 00/01, Brussels
2002 (pp. 8-9)
Fig. 10 – Joint policy of the Flemish Government Architect
and Flanders Architectural Institute (2009).
17 The Open Call was inspired by the model existing in The Netherlands,
managed by the Dutch Government Architect, where once a year
architects used to be invited to apply for consideration for public
Hans Ibelings (2009) believes that the current archi-
tectural policy implemented in the Flanders region has
been successful and is starting to show evidence. The
author states that one of the visible results that demon-
strate this positive influence is the high quality build-
ings that received commission support by the Flemish
Government Architect. Adding to this, in his view, even
if the Flemish policy could be relaunched or receive an
extra impulse, the “current policy is certainly not wrong”
and the instruments put in place (the Flanders Architec-
ture Institute, the Flemish Government Architect, and
creating subsidies for local architectural initiatives) are
weapons against architectural illiteracy, which will have
a positive impact at the long term. As such, the policy
implementation in Flanders has led to a new architec-
ture (including urban design, landscape architecture
and infrastructure) and building culture (Ibidem).
Fig. 11 – Recent policy of the Flemish
Government Architect (2016).
5.3.2 The Flemish Government Architect
As referred above, the position of Flemish Government
Architect – Vlaams Bouwmeester – was established
by the Government in 1999, with the appointment of
Bob Van Reeth, a notable Flemish architect. The Flem-
ish Government Architect occupies a leading position
in the Flemish architectural policy, both as an institution
and as a person, which can be regarded as the corner-
stone of the government policy (Ibelings, 2009, p. 8).
According to its most recent policy program, the mis-
sion of the Flemish Government Architect entails:
Table 3 – Flemish Government Architect strategic goals for the 2017-2020 period
Theme General aim Specific objectives (summarized)
Open Space To promote a view of open space as
public good, to be preserved for the
future but also made accessible to
people today. To protect and create open
space networks, with a social agenda, by
reducing spatial claims
acquire insight on the interplay of open space & urbanisation
collaborate for more continuous open
space across boundaries
actively support an open space policy
promote projects related to densification
and core strengthening
generate support, raise awareness and
ensure communication with all levels of
government and with the general public
Housing To address the housing problem (spa-
tial congestion, car-dependent mobility,
large energy consumption per house)
by improving housing quality through a
project-based approach and by initiating
promote an increase in scale in residential design
as an alternative to individual commissions
support housing associations and the private sector
in building sustainable and affordable housing
support a professional rental sector
with more collective housing
promote a location-driven housing choice, with
living and working more attuned to each other
Heritage To promote a more active, responsi-
ble attitude towards cultural heritage,
focused less on what has been inherited
and more on what should be passed on
to the next generation
advocate a workable balance between heritage
value, residential quality, energetic performance and
economic feasibility for renovations of social housing
promote change-oriented building
particularly for public buildings
to inform public officials and other interested parties about
good examples, through the Open Call and in other ways
Public Principal-
ship To have public organizations and local
authorities that are familiar with the entre-
preneurial logic of construction and the
real estate market, and can efficiently
negotiate with private parties
assist public principals in creating various
forms of ‘negotiated urbanism’
promote a project structure that involves
additional private parties, within the framework
of public-private partnership projects
continue and enhance existing research
on public-private collaborations
Regulations To have a set of regulations that func-
tions as a proactive quality tool, one that
leaves scope for creativity within the
design process and is flexible and future-
to specify more explicitly the intentions and results
that the regulations aim to achieve, so that solutions
fully or partly outside the scope can be admitted if
they fulfil the intentions and are deemed desirable
by involved authorities & stakeholders
to delve into the underlying mechanisms of legal and
financial factors in land uses, and highlight them, in
order to tackle our use of space in an integral manner
collaborations To promote a broader vision for the
whole area of the Maas-Schelde-Rijn
Delta (Eurodelta), along with a collabo-
rative, cross-border approach to its chal-
to work closely and consult with other Chief
Government Architects of the region
to place a focus particularly on the Brussels
metropolitan area and its infrastructure
to enhance structural collaboration in particular between
Belgian and Dutch authorities and research initiatives
to architecture
To initiate and facilitate various
exchanges, so that architectural and
spatial policy in Flanders remain in touch
with developments at home and abroad
in the broader field of architecture
promote knowledge sharing, debate & broad communication
collaborate with the International
Architecture Biennale Rotterdam
raise awareness among policymakers on the importance
of fair fees and a healthy business climate in architecture
create synergies with design education & research programs
have a structural collaboration with the Department
of Culture on the theme of commissioned art
(Source: Flanders, 2017)
“The aim of the post of
Vlaams Bouwmeester
is to promote the architectural quality of the
built environment, understood as a synthesis
of qualities in terms of urban environment, use
and perception, image quality, building tech-
nology, energy, cost management and so on. This
commitment is demonstrated in the support of
principals in public and semi-public projects for
the design and construction of buildings, public
space, landscape and infrastructure, and always
related to the changing social challenges and
from a cross-sectional perspective of collabora-
tion with players and sectors involved.” (Flanders,
2017, p. 2)
Therefore, as an independent expert and advisor to the
entire Flemish government, the Flemish Government
Architect is a bridge-builder who approaches proj-
ects from a cross-sectoral perspective, across policy
areas. The aim is always to consider various interests
in relation to spatial and social quality. According to the
referred policy paper, its core tasks are:
1. Providing support and guidance to public principals
on projects within the framework of concrete devel-
2. Contributing actively to the development of vision
and reflection, resulting in policy advice and initia-
tives related to social challenges and their impli-
cations and possibilities in terms of high-quality
design and construction.
Adding to the above, three additional tasks are has
communicating and raising awareness about topi-
cal issues and creating an everyday environment of
high-quality architecture;
advising about sticking points and gaps in the reg-
ulations, in relation to architectural quality in the
wide sense;
providing opportunities for young designers.
To achieve the strategic goals summarized above, the
Flemish Government Architect has several design tools
at his disposal (see Table 4 on the next page). Within
these, the Open Call is the most important instrument
to raise the quality of public buildings in the Flemish
part of Belgium. The Open Call commissions that have
been implemented cover not only urban development
plans but also a broad range of buildings in various
fields and at different levels, ranging from subsidized
housing and public buildings to infrastructural work
such as bridges and roads (Ibelings, 2009, p. 8)18. In
this sense, the Open Call is the most visible activity
of the Flemish Government Architect and the one that
gives legitimacy to its existence (Ibidem).
In practical terms, the Open Call is a procedure that
enables public principals to select designers for com-
missions in the fields of architecture, urban design and
landscape architecture. Considered as an alternative
selection process that place less burden for designers
(Schreurs, 2000, p. 63), the Open Call method com-
prises the following steps:
1. The principal formulates an assignment by means
of a project definition, which contains a descrip-
tion of the desires and ambitions and is more than
just a summing up of square meters and functional
programs. In drawing up the project definition, the
principal is assisted by the Flemish Government
Architect and his team;
2. The next stage is the publication of the call for ten-
ders, where architects and designers can apply as
candidates with a portfolio;
3. The Flemish Government Architect and its team
makes a preliminary selection of ten designers
from among these candidates, and after consulta-
tions with the principal, five of them are invited to
present their vision of the assignment;
4. The five designs are put to a jury, consisting of rep-
resentatives of the principals and users, the Gov-
ernment Architect and an external member of the
5. This jury decides to whom the commission will be
given (Ibelings, 2009, p. 8).
As soon as the principal and architect have been
brought into contact with one another, the involvement
18 In the first ten years of its existence, until 2009, the Open Call
method has resulted in the initiation of some two-hundred projects, of
some fifty have already been completed (Ibelings, 2009).
of the Flemish Government Architect comes to an end
and it is up to them to collaborate on the further elab-
oration and implementation of the project (Ibidem).
According to the Flemish Government Architect (inter-
view: 2018), the Open Call procedure is free of charge
for public clients and half of the commissions originate
from small local authorities. Although the Open Call
procedure represents the bulk of his activity, the Flem-
ish Government Architect and his team also develop
several other initiatives, listed in Table 4.
Flemish Government Architect Office
The office of Flemish Government Architect is orga-
nized in three parts: the Government Architect itself,
the Government Architect Team and a group of experts.
According to the Flemish Government Architect (inter-
view: 2018), the team is composed by 22 people,
employed as public officials. Most of the team has
been part of the office since its creation, allowing the
preservation of knowledge across different Govern-
ment Architects mandates. Besides, the Flemish Gov-
ernment Architect has an annual budget of 400.000€
to promote studies, initiatives, pilot projects, etc. and
he is allowed to make specific partnerships with other
The Flemish Government Architect can ask for specific
advice by a group of experts, for example in the review
of building regulations or other spatial design legisla-
tion. As noted above, one of the Flemish Government
Architect’s tasks is to provide advice about sticking
points and gaps in the regulations, in relation to spatial
quality. In this sense, they regularly supervise the whole
set of regulations that have an impact in the built envi-
ronment, so that it may function as a proactive quality
tool that leaves enough scope for creativity within the
design process.
Currently, the government Architect is on the depen-
dence of the Minister of the Presidency of the Flemish
Government, who replies directly to the Prime-minister
of Flanders.
Selection procedure
The Flemish Government Architect has a mandate of
five years. According to the Flemish Government Archi-
tect (interview: 2018), the appointment is the result of a
demanding procedure, where candidates are required
to describe their vision for their tenure as early as their
first application for the post. The first shortlist is deter-
mined by an independent jury of 5-10 people repre-
senting various parts of the built environment disci-
plines, both practitioners and academics. Shortlisted
Table 4 - Methods & procedures of the
Flemish Government Architect
Open Call Enabling public principals to select
designers for commissions in the fields
of architecture, urban design and land-
scape architecture. The FGA brings
public authorities into contact with
a wide range of international design
offices, assists them in defining the
scope of a project, and supervises the
whole procedure.
Advice On public and semi-public projects of
a certain size, the FGA holds an advi-
sory role specified in a decree. For pro-
jects of strategic importance, the FGA
will often take the initiative and actively
seek out public principals to assist
them with their commissions.
Pilot projects Pilot projects link thematic research
by design carried out in the policy
preparation phase to the realization of
pioneering projects. Specific alliances
are entered into for each pilot project.
Besides completing the project, this
involves a broad communication plan
about the learning process through
symposiums and publications, and the
partners undertake a follow-up to har-
monize regulations and tools and opti-
mize them at all levels of government.
“Labo Ruimte” Thematically organised collaborations
between the FGA and other govern-
mental agencies, as well as external
experts, organizations & parties, with
long-term focus and the general aim of
a more sustainable society. Processes
organised under Labo Ruimte encour-
age collaborations across bounda-
ries and the combination of design,
research & social debate.
Master Class Encourages public principals to offer
young designers & artists a first public
commission, with the possibility of
realization under the supervision of a
project director appointed by the Bou-
Biennial prize awarded by the Flem-
ish government for outstanding prin-
cipal-ship – an exemplary process
organised by a principal to facilitate the
realization of a high-quality project
Label Support for selected research-by-de-
sign projects proposed by researchers/
designers, in the form of funding for
the development and public presenta-
tion of the project and promotion of the
research intentions within the political
(Source: Flanders, 2017)
candidates move on to the next stage, where they are
presented with a fictional problem akin to what a Bou-
wmeester might face, and are asked to present their
solution, in a few different formats including presen-
tations and writing, within a short amount of time. A
final stage then includes interviews with Ministers. The
whole process is anonymised – in that, at no stage
does a candidate know who their competitors are.
5.3.3 Other actors and stakeholders
Flanders Architecture Institute (VAI)
Similar to the other case studies, besides the Flemish
Government Architect, the Flemish Government also
financially supports an architectural cultural institution
dedicated to championing design across the Flem-
ish stakeholders and society in general. Established
in 2001, VAI is responsible for the publication of the
Flemish Architecture Yearbooks, intended to highlight
architecture and to inform a broader public about it.
Besides the yearbook, VAI also organizes exhibitions
and other activities that are aimed at making a general
public aware of architecture and urban design.
More recently, the Flemish government entrusted VAI
with the responsibility for the Flanders Architecture
Archives, which was taken care of by regional and pro-
vincial authorities. The Flanders Architecture Archives
is the national and international reference point for the
architectural cultural heritage in Flanders and Brussels.
In this sense, VAI manages a prestigious and constantly
growing collection of architectural archives from these
two regions. It actively seeks out interesting architec-
tural archives, which it subsequently conserved, inter-
preted and make accessible to anyone interested.
The VAI is a private yet government-subsidised body –
like others in similar positions, it has to navigate the bal-
ance of retaining its independence as well as maintain-
ing a functional link with the administration. The current
Flemish Government Architect sits on their executive
board; but the VAI’s financing comes from a different
department – the Ministry of Culture. At the same time,
the VAI takes on a lot of the outreach work related to
the Bouwmeester’s vision, bringing it to the public via
exhibitions, events and so on.
Bridge over the Albart Canal
Ney & Partners, 2011
© Stijn Bollaert
St Ursula Primary School
Architects Tom Thys and Adinda
Van Geystelen, 2009 © Jan
Theater square Antwerpen Studio Associato
Secchi-Viganò, 2009
© Stijn Bollaert
Harbour Centre Antwerpen Zaha Hadid Architects, 2016
© Tim Van De Velde
Kazerne Dossin (Memorial,
Museum and Documentation
Centre on Holocaust and
Human Rights)
awg architecten, 2012
© Stijn Bollaert
‘De Zande’ Flemish
Community Institution
for Special Child Welfare
Architectuurbureau, 2014
© Michiel De Cleene
Water-tower Beersel Bureau d’études Weinand, Jeroen
Beerten, Tom Louwette, 2015
© Niels Donckers
‘De Boerekreek’ sports and
recreation centre Sint-Laurijns
Coussée & Goris with
Studiebureau Guy Mouton, 2008
© Jan Kempenaers
Waalse Krook Gent Coussee & Goris architecten,
RCR Aranda Pigem Vilalta
arquitectes, 2017
© Tim Van De Velde
Residential care centre Sint-
Van Belle & Medina
architects, 2016
© Tim Van De Velde
Beguinage Hasselt Bovenbouw Architecten, David
Kohn Architects
Elite sports school Wilrijk Compagnie O., 2016
© Tim Van De Velde
Maritime Museum Antwerpen Atelier Kempe Thill architects and
planners, Origin Architecture &
Academy Dilbeek Carlos Arroyo, 2012
© Stijn Bollaert
In Flanders Fields museum
noArchitecten, 2012
© Tim Van De Velde
Austria’s administrative structure follows the federalist
model and is organised in three levels: the federal state,
the nine federal provinces (Bundesländer) and a number
of app. 2100 municipalities, which are the smallest units
in the state organisation. The states or provinces have
their own legislative and executive powers, while munici-
palities do not, including building and architecture policy,
particularly in the field of housing. However, the latter are
entitled to issue general regulations and in practice carry
out many of the federal state’s administrative tasks.
Vienna is a particular case within this system because
it is a federal capital, which means that it accumulates
both administrative levels, municipality and federal prov-
ince (Bundesland). As such, the municipal and provin-
cial roles overlap: the City Council (municipal body) also
exercises the functions of the Vienna Provincial Parlia-
ment (regional body) and the Mayor also serves as the
Provincial Governor. To better frame the Austrian archi-
tectural policy, first will come a brief description on the
national (federal) policy and then the specific policy of
5.4.1 Austrian architectural policy:
the Baukultur approach
Within the European countries that have a public policy on
architecture, there are two that have a specific approach
which differentiates them from the rest: Austria and Ger-
many (See Bento, 2012, 2017). Due to their administra-
tive structure – federal system – Austrian and German
federal governments do not have full responsibility for
architectural policy because architecture is considered
to also be a responsibility of the states/provinces. How-
ever, since 2000, both countries have been very active
in promoting discussions, debates and publications on
architecture and building culture under the concept of
As discussed in Section 1.4, the German expression
Baukultur is a broad concept that can be translated into
English as Building Culture, and includes all aspects
of the built environment; including building and urban
design, infrastructure, social and economic context of
towns, cities and cultural landscapes. So, the concept
integrates not only architecture but also all other disci-
plines that intervene in the spatial environment, such as:
engineering, urban planning, heritage, landscape archi-
tecture, interior design and art for public buildings (Ger-
many, 2007).
Although Austria has a long tradition in architectural
mediation that goes back to the early 1990s, in 2002 a
movement focused on politics and administration started
as a bottom-up collaboration of all relevant actors in this
field: the architectural mediation scene, the chambers of
architects and chartered engineering consultants and
all the universities and academies where architecture
is taught. Together, they have formed the Austrian Plat-
form for building culture policy (Plattform Baukulturpoli-
tik), former: Platform for Architectural Policy and Building
Culture (Plattform für Architekturpolitik und Baukultur).
A first milestone was a parliamentary debate on the
topic of architecture policy and building culture in March
2004. Calling in experts in the field from Austria and the
EU, Austrian National Parliament launched a discussion
process with the objective of improving conditions for
a contemporary culture of planning and building and
providing a basis for comprehensive and intergovern-
mental architectural policies to secure the quality of life
in Austria. In 2006, as a follow up of the parliamentary
debate, the first Austrian Building Culture Report was
Fig. 12 – Austrian Building Culture Report (2006)
In June 2007, following the report’s recommendations,
the Austrian Parliament agreed on the establishment of
an advisory committee for Baukultur (building culture) at
the Austrian Federal Chancellery as a consulting body
for the government, in which all federal ministries as well
as representatives of the federal states/provinces and
other stakeholders join together to propose measures
to improve architecture and Baukultur in Austria. More-
over, the issuing of a Baukultur report at a quinquennial
rhythm was decided upon, where a second Baukulturre-
port was published in 2011 and a third report published
in 2017.
More recently, in 2017, the Austrian Council of Minis-
ters has adopted its first national Federal Guidelines on
Building Culture. According to the guidelines, its objec-
tives are to comprehensively “promote building culture
and create a broader societal awareness of its prin-
ciples, especially among leaders in politics, business,
and administration” (Austria, 2017). To achieve this, it is
argued that a comprehensive strategy is needed at the
federal level that will anchor building culture across all
departments and disciplines at the federal, provincial,
and local levels. The Federal guidelines are divided into
six areas of action, including, for example, the devel-
opment of towns, cities and the landscape; promot-
ing awareness and public participation; research and
transfer of knowledge and expertise; coordination and
Fig. 13 – Austrian Federal Guidelines
for Building Culture (2017)
Although within the Austrian context the term archi-
tecture is replaced by a broader notion, building cul-
ture (Baukultur), the same concerns about placemak-
ing and the importance of the spatial environment for
the quality of life are also present. Considering that the
notion of architecture in its wider sense involves the
design of the all built environment, the broader concep-
tual approach does not undermine the general aim of a
more sustainable environment which seeks a balance
between social, economic, environmental and cultural
objectives. The specific way of how to address this will
always be influence by the national political context,
administrative tradition and social atmosphere where
policies are developed.
Viennese Architectural policy
and Baukultur principles
As explained in Chapter 2, within the nine Austrian fed-
eral states (Bundesländer), it was decided to exam-
ine the state of Vienna for the present study. Although
the state and municipality of Vienna has a long tradition
of architecture and spatial design policy tools, such as
a statuary planning framework and development con-
trol mechanisms, in 2005 the City Council of Vienna
approved a policy document laying down the city vision
for architecture and urban design, entitled the “Vienna
Architecture Declaration”. The policy paper included
three main themes: quality in planning and construc-
tion; transparency in mission statements, goals and
procedures; and discourse readiness. In 2013, build-
ing on this first policy initiative, the City of Vienna, under
the auspices of the Department of Architecture and
Urban Design which will be described below, devel-
oped Baukultur policy principles in a broad-based pro-
cess, intended to further raise the quality of planning
and realization of urban projects.
The Vienna Baukultur policy guidelines are supposed
to serve as a basis for planning and building projects,
promoting high quality of urban planning and further
expansion of a comprehensive building culture. In addi-
tion, it should inform and guide the City Council in its
own construction works, where it should be seen as a
role model vis-à-vis private investors. It is argued that
the state and city construction projects should pursue
the basic principles of quality of life, usability, sustain-
ability and participation. In this context, the following
Baukultur principles should apply to the city of Vienna:
1. Provide a high-quality built environment for the
Viennese population, which offers high quality of
life, both in new buildings and in existing buildings;
2. Make building-cultural decisions in such a way that
the city becomes socially fairer.
3. To further develop the living city through climate
protection as well as through sustainable con-
struction methods and uses;
4. The planning, construction and renovation of
all buildings and open spaces in the sphere of
influence of the City of Vienna are carried out
according to quality-oriented and transparent pro-
cesses.Citizen participation is seen as a positive
element in these processes and lived;
5. Integrate cooperation partners of the City of Vienna
in quality-oriented Baukultur processes;
6. Create quality-oriented conditions and processes
for all buildings and open spaces that are being
built, renovated or used in Vienna;
7. Promote the vibrant, critical, diverse and innovative
scene of Baukulturschaffenden.
8. Increase public awareness of the importance of
building culture and awareness of one’s own
9. Promote the public discourse on building culture in
its diversity and the Baukulturvermittlung.Essen-
tial for this are information and transparency in
matters concerning the built environment, and the
visualization of the benefits of Baukultur;
10. Promote innovation in building culture through
education, through research and development,
through innovation-oriented procurement and
through a “culture of learning” (evaluation of pro-
cesses, rules and results) (Vienna, 2013).
5.4.2 Main public actor and advisory board
Within the Vienna administrative structure there exists
a municipal (and, as explained above, also a state)
Department for Architecture & Urban Design, but not
a specific office with a role similar to that of the State
Architect’s in other case studies. There is, however,
an advisory board (Fachbeirat) on urban planning and
urban design: a consulting body of experts in various
fields (including architecture, urban design, urban plan-
ning and others) that serve on an honorary basis for
three years, advising both departments in particularly
and the municipality in general. This has no formal polit-
ical powers nor is it part of the official government struc-
ture. Considering the overall aim of the present study
and background discussion on spatial design leader-
ship, this section will examine the Architecture & Urban
Design Department, as well as its advisory board.
Department of Architecture & Urban Design
Although the City Council of Vienna has a department
for urban planning as well as a department responsi-
ble for processing and issuing building permits, it has
also a specific department responsible for architecture
and urban design policy (Municipal Department 19).
According to the City Council webpage, the Archi-
tecture and Urban Design Department’s mission is to
develop the Viennese cityscape in a contemporary way,
fostering a culture of placemaking and strengthened
awareness and responsibility for the designed living
environment. To do so, it has several policy tools on
the topics of architecture, urban design and building
According to its Director (interview: 2018), the Depart-
ment of Architecture and Urban Design (DAUD) has
four divisions. The first division is focused on urban
development issues and works closely with the Depart-
ment of Urban Development on zoning and land use
plans. For example, when there is a new develop-
ment project or an area to be developed, the division
gives an expert opinion on urban design. This division
also conducts studies and surveys for different urban
design issues, for example a study for some site axes
– corridors – where it is necessary to make an analysis
to guarantee that there will be no skyscraper interfering
with it (ibidem).
The second division is responsible for the design and
planning of public space and works closely with the
department for building streets and infrastructure. In
addition, it also gives design expert opinion on the
impact of small interventions in the cityscape, such as a
kiosk or an advertising board, to the competent munic-
ipal authority. It also promotes citizen participation on
the design process of public spaces and sometimes
organizes design competitions to arrive at the best
solution for specific interventions (Ibid.).
The third division is responsible for providing design
expert opinions to the building municipal department,
which is responsible for processing building permits.
Because the Viennese building code has a special
paragraph which regulates the fitting into the cityscape,
this division receives about 7 to 8 thousand requests
per year about new buildings or renewals to see if they
comply. These are most of the time private buildings,
where promoters and architects have to submit a build-
ing design to get a building permission (Ibid.).
The last and fourth division is responsible for the design
and planning of Viennese municipal buildings, such as
schools, kindergartens, office buildings and special
buildings for other departments (e.g. fire department
and the like). This is the largest division of the depart-
ment and is composed mainly of architects19 as a large
part of the work is on project development. There will
be about two hundred projects every time, in different
phases, going for small buildings interventions, which
is internally planned and designed by the division, to
major buildings, like a school or a kindergarten inside
a campus.
For the latter, the division works with external services
providers, usually through design competitions. Most
of the time, it’s an open call competition but sometimes,
when there is a special project, the division makes a
two-part competition, where architects make a prelim-
19 According with its Director (interview: 2018), the four divisions
of Architecture and Urban design Department have the following
workers: in the first division, there are about 6 people; in the second
division there are about 8 people; in the third division there about 7
people and in the fourth there are about 30 people working.
inary application and then about 6 or 8 teams will be
selected for the complete design competition.
According to its Director (interview: 2018), besides
the technical activity with building designs, the depart-
ment has a very good co-working relation with other
departments, mostly in the cases of building permis-
sions. When there is a very difficult decision on a spe-
cific project or it is a special place which will result in
a public debate, the department will not give its design
expert opinion until the Advisory Board has examined
the issue and given a recommendation. Only after
receiving this will the department issue an expert opin-
ion on the design quality of the project. The role of the
Advisory Board will be discussed below.
According to its webpage, the DAUD also promotes
some cultural activities together with the Architec-
ture Centre of Vienna, which will be described further
ahead, fostering public awareness about the design
quality of places, such as, exhibitions, etc.
Advisory Board for Urban Planning
and Urban Design
The Advisory Board for Urban Planning and Urban
Design20 – hereinafter referred to as the Advisory
Board – is an independent body that provides spatial
design advice to the City Council of Vienna. The com-
position and tasks of the Advisory Board are regulated
by the Building Regulations for Vienna, whose function
is further detailed in a specific ordinance of the Vienna
provincial government21. According to this, the Advi-
sory Council has the following remit:
1. appraisal of the drafts drawn up by the magistrate
for the establishment and modification of zoning
plans and development plans;
2. assessment of individual building projects on
request of the local authority, if they are of signifi-
cant influence on the local cityscape.
In practical terms, the Architecture and Urban Design
Department described above submits to the Advisory
Board individual building projects that have a signifi-
cant impact on the cityscape for an expert opinion
about its overall design quality, including issues as
functionality, visual appearance, mass, scale, integra-
20 Its original Austrian name: Fachbeirat für Stadtplanung und
21 Ordinance of the Vienna Provincial Government July 7, 2005, LGBI
2005/33, which promulgates rules of procedure for the Advisory
Council for Urban Planning and Urban Design.
tion with neighbouring buildings and close surround-
ings, etc. (City of Vienna’s director, interview: 2018)22.
In addition, the Urban Planning Department submits to
the Advisory Board all zoning proposals and develop-
ment plans before they are presented to the public23.
In the former, the expressed opinion is not binding
although it tends to have a strong influence on the sub-
sequent political decision. In the latter, it is mandatory
to obtain an expert opinion on zoning proposals and
zoning plans prior to a political decision.
The Advisory Board should operate without politi-
cal influence and is populated by experts from vari-
ous disciplines. Appointed by the Mayor of Vienna,
the members of the Advisory Board act on an honor-
ary basis with a term of office of three years, including
12 experts in the following fields: architecture (three
architects), civil engineering, spatial planning, historical
monuments, surveying, urban ecology, transport, social
issues, green space planning and siteissues. Although
the Advisory Board structure and remit is not compara-
ble with the political power and competences level of
a State Architect, it delivers an important advice com-
plement to the design review function of the services of
the Municipality of Vienna.
In an historical perspective, an “Advisory Council for
Urban Planning” was already in the core constitution
of the Vienna Building Code, the Law of 1929, LGBL.
11/1930. The corresponding provision was not valid
for a long time and was repealed in 1939. Neverthe-
less, the Viennese “Advisory Council for Urban Plan-
ning” was re-established in 1947. Within the scope of
a revision of the building code, the area and responsi-
bility of the advisory body was extended in 1987, and
since then, the “Advisory Board for Urban Planning and
Urban Design” maintain its present form.
5.4.3 Other actors and stakeholders
Austrian Federal Chancellery | The
Arts and Culture Division
The Austrian Federal Chancellery has many depart-
ments including policy sectoral related with architec-
ture and spatial design (e.g. heritage policy). Among
these, the Department for Visual Arts, Architecture,
Design, Fashion, Photography and Media Arts is
responsible for the financial support of programmes,
22 The Advisory Board have to examine the documents submitted within
a period of four weeks. If the advisory council does not submit an
expert opinion within the set time limit, assuming that the information
prepared by the magistrate was enough, the building permit
procedure should be continued.
23 The Advisory Board meetings are not public.
projects, grants etc. for the mediation of contempo-
rary architecture (in the frame of arts supporting). For
example, funding for houses of architecture and other
institutions with a yearly programme, exhibitions, proj-
ects, prizes for architecture, etc. It also has responsi-
bility for the organisation of international exhibitions,
like the Biennale of Venice, as well as exhibitions about
aspects of Austrian architecture which are touring
internationally. There are also scholarship programmes
for young architects to make international experiences
and to follow unusual/experimental projects and ideas.
Advisory Committee for Baukultur
In 2009, an Advisory Committee for Baukultur (Beirat
für Baukultur) was established at the Federal level as
a result of the first Austrian report about Baukultur
(“Baukulturreport”). This advisory committee develops
measures for the government to better the situation of
the Baukultur in Austria and propose adequate mea-
sures for it; a yearly report for the government has to be
done and discussed in the Parliament.
Federal Real Estate Society (BIG -
Bundesimmobiliengeselilschaft GesmbH)
The Federal Real Estate Society is in the ownership
of the Austrian Republic and is charged with the con-
struction of buildings for the state [planning, invitations
for tenders, competitions and realisations]. Concerning
the realisation of quality in architecture of state build-
ings (for administration, universities etc.) BIG is the
most important player in the field.
Architecture Centre of Vienna
Established in 1993, Architecture Centre of Vienna
(Architekturzentrum Wien – AzW) is the major architec-
tural cultural institution in Austria dedicated to show-
case, discuss and explore how architecture and urban
development shape the daily lives of Austrian citizens.
Based in Vienna under the title of Austrian Museum of
Architecture, AzW was founded by an initiative of the
state and City of Vienna, which was an important polit-
ical signal at the time that architecture deserved to be
properly promoted and considered as one of the Aus-
trian culture achievements.
After 8 years of provisional exhibition operation, AzW
was substantially expanded and reopened in 2001.
Currently, it has a floor area of 2000 m2 where it offers
a wide-ranging program of events and exhibitions,
comprising the following: international theme-related
exhibitions, a permanent exhibition with an overview of
Austrian architecture, and a total of 500 events during
the year, ranging from symposia, workshops, lectures to
guided tours, city expeditions, film series and hands-on
formats. AzW receives its funding from the state and
City council and from sponsors.
The AzW has established itself internationally, acquir-
ing a reputation as an outstanding institution where
architecture is communicated and researched. It pro-
vides a comprehensive service for researchers and all
those interested in architecture. The facilities include
a public reference library, the online building database
Architektur Austria Gegenwart” (Architecture Austria
Contemporary), the online Lexicon of Architects, as
well as a unique collection of material on Austrian
architecture of the 20th and 21st century.
The Austrian Architectural foundation
The Austrian Architectural Foundation (Architek-
turstiftung Österreich) was founded in 1996 as a joint
open platform of Austrian architecture initiatives consti-
tuted by the architecture houses of the federal states,
the Austrian Society for Architecture (ÖGFA) and the
Central Association of Architects. Adding to the legal
professional associations and the training centres, the
independent architecture initiatives form an import-
ant third pillar for securing the building culture (Feller,
2018: interview).
The network of architectural initiatives is committed to
architectural excellence and promotes understanding
of contemporary architecture in politics, administration
and the public.The goal is to get people interested in
architecture and to make them ambitious partners in the
design of the built environment.The network strength-
ens cooperation between key players in architecture:
builders and users, architects, planners and engineers.
Einfamilienhaus - 2015
Pötzleinsdorfer Höhe 33
Zoran Bodrozic
Wohnhausanlage - 2015
Wittmayergasse 7, 9, 11
Hermann & Valentiny u. Partner
Architekten ZT GmbH
Wohnhaus - 2015
Stolberggasse 18
Josef Weichenberger architects
+ Partner
Fassadensanierung und –
begrünung - 2015
Grabnergasse 4
RATAPLAN-Architektur ZT GmbH
Dachausbau - 2015
Schottenring 19
RLP Rüdiger Lainer + Partner
– 2016
Anton-von Webern-Platz 1
Reinhardt Gallister
Fassadensanierung und –
begrünung - 2015
Grabnergasse 4
RATAPLAN-Architektur ZT GmbH
Aufstockung –
Wohnhaus - 2016
Schönbrunnerstraße 111
Burtscher-Durig ZT
Brandstätter Baumanagement
Huttengasse 57,59,61,63,65;
Rankgasse 1,3; Enenkelstraße 12
Hotelzubau - 2016
Gudrunstraße 138
BWM Architekten
Umbau und Platzgestaltung –
Kirche - 2016
Esslinger Hauptstraße 74
pointner pointner Architekten
ÖAMTC Headquarter - 2016
Baumgasse 129
Pichler & Traupmann Architekten
Kindergarten - 2016
Wolkersbergenstraße 1
Veit Aschenbrenner Architekten
Siebensterngasse 52
Balkonzubau –
Wohnhaus - 2017
Weyringergasse 27a
5.5.1 The architectural policy of Denmark
The development of Danish architectural policy goes
back to early 1993, when the Conservative Party set
a proposal urging the Minister of Culture to prepare
a bill concerning a national architectural policy in line
with the Dutch policy (Visser, 1997)24. In 1994, a first
policy proposal was presented, signed by the Ministry
of Culture, the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of
Environment, entitled, The Danish Architectural Policy.
According with Visser (1997), the draft proposal stated
that ‘architecture was of great importance to the quality
of daily physical surroundings (…) and the quality of
life of each individual human being.’ 25
Fig. 14 – Danish public consultation
document on architectural policy (1994)
In order to discuss and define the architectural policy,
the ministers for Culture and Housing arranged a con-
ference with participation from the building sector and
representation from other relevant ministries.26 How-
ever, the Architectural policy would end up not being
formally approved (Ibid.). In the subsequent years, sev-
eral European states continued to develop efforts in
this area leading to the adoption of several architectural
24 Two years before, the Dutch had adopted their first policy on
architecture, which was considered a pioneering document
embracing architecture and urban design in a comprehensive manner,
bridging culture and building policy. The new Dutch policy raised
curiosity and interest of several neighbouring countries that contacted
the Dutch government to learn more about its architectural policy
(See Bento 2017).
25 The draft policy emphasized the different state’s roles in promoting
better places, as legislator, administrator, planner and builder (e.g.
client); as well as on education and research. The objective was
to ensure that standards were raised, and that consideration for
architecture was included in all public decision process. It also
highlighted the importance of energy-conservation and ecological
building and the need to increasing export services (Ibid).
26 For this conference The Federation of Danish Architects had
produced and published its own proposal on Architectural Policy
(Visser, 1997)
policies in neighbouring countries. Following this trend,
the Danish parliament would approve its first compre-
hensive architectural policy in 2007, entitled, A Nation
of Architecture Denmark. Settings for life and growth.
Fig. 15 – First Danish architectural policy (2007)
After introducing the benefits and values of architec-
tural design, the first formal Danish architectural policy
established a policy vision aimed at placing architecture
on the agenda (Denmark, 2007). Therefore, the poli-
cy’s overall goal was to ensure the development of high
quality architecture which would improve the quality of
life and economic growth in Denmark. It stated that ‘the
architectural policy will advance the development of
Denmark’s competitive advantage within architecture
and that the policy will increase awareness and stim-
ulate debate concerning the significance, conditions
and possibilities of architecture in Denmark’ (Ibidem).
It then established ten target areas, where it described
the challenges, goals and initiatives within each target
area to be implemented through a period of time.
More recently, in 2014, based on the previous policy,
the Danish Government adopted its second architec-
tural policy entitled Putting people first. The new Danish
architecture policy maintained the same goals of the
previous policy, where the government announced a
series of initiatives aimed at supporting increased pro-
ductivity and an internationalisation of the architectural
industry (Denmark, 2014).
Fig. 16 – Second Danish architectural policy (2014)
The new architectural policy focused on early involve-
ment of citizens when changes occur in their local area,
lower resource consumption, and renovation and main-
tenance of rural buildings. The main policy goal is to
create buildings, urban spaces and cities pleasant for
the Danish citizens to live in. Within this domain, the
new policy focused on the following areas:
Children, adolescents and adults are better able to
encounter architecture with a range of new teach-
ing and dissemination services tailored to new
media and platforms, which are linked to Common
Objectives and the primary school reform;
The municipalities are offered a number of facilities
and advice to develop their own local architecture
policies. Emphasis is placed on how an architec-
tural policy in the municipalities can help address
the challenges faced by municipalities in attracting
citizens and counteracting social imbalances, as
well as creating vulnerable housing areas;
Architecture and sustainability – environmentally,
socially and culturally – through the development
of a sustainable urban planning strategy and the
launch of a large number of example projects
showing how architecture can enhance sustaina-
bility across the country;
Value creation of architectural quality and the over-
all economy of construction projects;
There is also a focus on export and international
marketing of Danish architecture.
In order to ensure a broad-based follow-up of the
efforts, the Danish government set up a cross-depart-
mental government team, which will in future coordi-
nate the government’s architecture policy efforts in
dialogue with the players in the field of architecture.
The architectural policy was developed in cooperation
between eleven Ministries27.
In addition, pursuing a decentralization strategy, 37
Danish municipalities have adopted an architectural
policy and two municipalities are developing their first
policy. As the designed environment cuts across dif-
ferent departments, the municipal architectural policy
works as a policy tool for establishing connections
27 Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of
Environment, Energy and Building, the Ministry of Trade and Industry,
Ministry of Urban Affairs, Housing and Rural Affairs, Ministry of
Transport, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Research, Innovation
and Higher Education, Ministry of Education, Social Affairs, Children
and the Ministry of Integration and the Ministry of Health.
between a large number of the municipality’s tasks,
helping to create growth, coherence and identity,
whether it is about building quality, building urban
spaces, climate adaptation, heritage conservation or
road design (Brogaard, 2017).
Fig. 17 – The architecture policy for
the city of Copenhagen (2017)
In this context, local architecture policies are seen as
important policy instruments because they bring actors
together: “It is hugely beneficial to plan processes
when all involved actors get together on future proj-
ects. And it’s not just about buildings. New roads and
parking areas, for example, have a big influence on how
we experience our cities. Therefore, it is important for
the city and our landscape that both the road engineer,
the landscape architect and the city planner to assem-
ble and find the right solutions that suit all needs. Here
an architecture policy can be a useful overall instrument
for that cooperation” (Ibidem).
5.5.2 Main public actors and advisory council
Similar to the Austrian case, there is no State Architect
position within the Danish central public administra-
tion. Nevertheless, the Danish Agency for Culture and
Palaces is the public body responsible for the national
Architecture Policy described above. Integrated in the
Ministry of Culture, the Agency is responsible for the
architectural policy coordination as well as for its imple-
mentation supervision. According with first Danish
architecture policy (2007), the main state developers
are already paying attention to architectural quality, and
in various ways they have formulated architecture pol-
icies for their own work. One of those is the Danish
Building and Property Agency, which is the state’s
property developer, and probably the most important
public player in the building industry, which will also be
referenced below.
Besides public bodies within government, there is also
an independent state’s advisory body in the field of arts
and architecture – The Academy Council – which will
be describe below. This section will end up with a brief
reference to the position of City Architect, which plays
an important role of design champion within a local
authority (see Chapter 3).
Agency for Culture and Palaces
The Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces operates
under the aegis of the Danish Ministry of Culture. The
agency carries out the cultural policies of the Danish
government within the visual and performing arts, archi-
tecture, music, literature, museums, historical and cul-
tural heritage, broadcasting, libraries and all types of
printed and electronic media28. Within this, the agency
provides advice to the Danish minister of culture and
is involved in setting and achieving the government’s
cultural policy goals. Another task involves allocating
funds for both individuals and organisations and institu-
tions as well as collecting, processing and disseminat-
ing information and findings to promote cultural devel-
opment. The agency is also responsible for managing
and maintaining state-owned palaces and castles, gar-
dens and cultural properties29.
Within this broad remit, the Culture Agency is respon-
sible for the Danish architectural policy, coordinating
the policy development and assuring the implementa-
tion supervision of the different policy initiatives across
all Danish administration. To facilitate this, the Govern-
ment has set up an architectural policy inter-ministerial
working group.
Danish Building and Property Agency
The Danish Building and Property Agency is the state’s
property enterprise and developer, operating under
the Ministry of Transport, Building and Housing. The
agency manages current and future needs of most of
Danish public facilities30. It has the responsibility of
creating modern, functional and cost-effective frame-
works for some of the country’s most important public
institutions, such as, universities, police, courts and
28 The Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces was founded in 2016 by
a fusion of the former Danish Agency for Culture and the Agency for
Palaces and Cultural Properties. The Danish Agency for Culture was
founded in 2002 when the Danish Heritage Agency, the Danish Arts
Agency and the Danish Agency for Libraries and Media merged.
29 (accessed in
September 2018)
30 The Danish Building and Property Agency has a property portfolio of
about 4 million m2- of this about 1,2 million private leases and PPP-
projects - and more than 1,800 leases and 300 current and planned
construction projects.
most of government departments.
Although it does not have a State Architect position,
the agency develops a huge amount of design assign-
ments for public buildings. Within this, it often orga-
nizes design competitions, where for some interna-
tional competitions, it will be include an open design
competition, with a subsequent traditional restricted
design competition31.
The Academy Council (Advisory
body on architecture)
The Academy Council of the Royal Academy of Fine
Arts works for the promotion of art and as the state’s
adviser in artistic issues in the fields of architecture
and visual arts and adjoining art.In this framework, the
Academy Council is available to provide expert advice
to municipal and state authorities when requested on
architecture and spatial development projects. Never-
theless, the Academy Council may, on its own initiative,
obtain information from specific design interventions or
art projects and make statements to state authorities
and public institutions, as well as, make those state-
ments public.
The Academy’s activities are conducted through the
different departments of the Academy Council, which
include a Landscape Committee, Church Art Com-
mittee, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Jury and the
artistic community. Part of the Academy’s work and
advising role takes place through the many persons
appointed to the boards of directors and committees of
the Council, which originate from many sources, such
as, representatives from public and private institutions,
representatives of committees, etc. The formal basis of
the Academy Council was laid down by the Ministry of
Culture’s Order No. 306 of 18 May 1999 for the Royal
Academy of Fine Arts32. In addition to this, the Council
has drawn up a set of articles of association that set the
framework for the Academy’s work.
City Architects
Besides the municipal architectural policies, several
Danish City Councils have appointed a City Architect to
31 The restricted design competition, it will consist of the three winners
from the open design competition and three prequalified teams. In
order to create transparency, the Agency announces the teams who
were prequalify for the restricted design competition prior to the open
design competition.
32 The ‘Royal Academy of Fine Arts’ and the ‘Royal Danish Academy of
Fine Arts: The School of Architecture, the Visual Arts Schools’ and the
‘Conservatory School’ form together the Royal Danish Academy of
Fine Arts, which was established on March 31, 1754. Therefore, the
institution celebrated its 250th anniversary on March 31, 2004.
champion the design of the built environment. Although
the specific tasks of the city architects change from
city to city, one of the main tasks of the City Archi-
tect, among other things, is to help define architectural
guidelines and visions in developing the city based on
the City Architectural Policy. Besides pushing for the
municipal architecture policy implementation, just like
the State Architect, they are supposed to led, facili-
tate and provide design advice to the politicians, City
Administration and municipal services.
In some cases, City Architects also promote architec-
ture or urban design competitions for interesting new
angles on sustainable urban development, where major
investments are under way in, for example, new infra-
structure, major facilities (e.g. a hospital) or renovations
of larger residential areas. Therefore, the city architect
assumes a multitasking role of spatial design leader-
ship, providing expert design advice and inspiration for
better places. For example, the city council of Copen-
hagen has appointed a city architect, responsible for
implementing the municipal architectural policy. Assum-
ing its role as public building client and as a planning
authority, the city architect takes the lead on architec-
tural matters and helps develop the city’s visions and
goals for the built environment (Copenhagen, 2017).
5.5.3 Other actors and stakeholders
Danish Architecture Centre (DAC)
The Danish Architecture Centre (DAC) is Denmark’s
national centre for the development and dissemination
of knowledge about architecture, building and urban
development. DAC’s objective and legitimacy con-
sist in promoting co-operation across the professional
boundaries of the construction sector and architecture
so that the players, working together, are able to con-
tribute to the forward-looking development of architec-
ture and construction specifically and Danish society
in general.
DAC was founded in 1985 through a collaboration
between the Danish Ministry of Culture, the Ministry
of Economic and Business Affairs and the Realdania
foundation. DAC’s core funding was reassured by a
public-private partnership between Realdania and the
Danish government established in 2004. DAC used
to be installed in at an old harbour building called the
Gammel Dok, in Copenhagen. Currently it is installed in
a major new building design by OMA architects, which
comprises several cultural institutions.
Danish Architecture Centre (DAC) promotes archi-
tecture as a broad concept that embraces everything
from the creative process, planning and urban devel-
opment to the finished space or construction involved.
The main goal of DAC is to create broad interest in
architecture, to clear the way for new ideas traversing
traditional boundaries and to show how architecture
creates cultural and economic assets for people, the
industry and society. To do so, it offers a wide range
of professional and cultural activities, including exhibi-
tions, seminars, city guided tours, etc.
Through Danish and international exhibitions DAC pres-
ents relevant themes and trends in architecture, con-
struction and urban development. The exhibitions are
often a result of long-term development and co-opera-
tion projects. DAC is also a platform for developing the
entire construction industry, namely for a Building Lab
DK, which is a unit of DAC, which carry out projects
in close co-operation with leading Danish and interna-
tional participants in the construction industry. Within
this, it advises companies about innovative processes
and support projects from the early idea through to the
finished solution.
Although there are other bodies that have an important
role in spatial design in Denmark, for the present study
it was not possible to review them.
The Royal Danish Playhouse
The Royal Danish Playhouse is
a theatre building for the Royal
Danish Theatre
Copenhagen, Denmark
Lundgaard & Tranberg
Wadden Sea Center Photographer:
Adam Moerk
Dorte Mandrup Architects
Ribe, Denmark
Year: 2017
Kannikegården Photographer:
Anders Sune Berg
Lundgaard & Tranberg
Ribe, Denmark
Year: 2016
Christiansborg Slotsplads –
Urban Security
Type: development of a site-
specific security concept in
historic, urban settings
The Agency for Culture and
The Danish Parliament and The
Agency for Culture and Palaces
GHB Landskabsarkitekter
In cooperation with:
Sweco, ÅF Consult and Professor
Steen Høyer
C.G. Jensen
Slotsholmen, Copenhagen,
Carlsberg Foundation’s
Researcher Apartments
This new apartment building
comprises 22 apartments for
academic researchers who work
for the Carlsberg Foundation in
Copenhagen. The building has
been designed to vary in height
between three and five storeys,
just like the adjacent buildings,
so that it blends in perfectly with
its surroundings. On the ground
floor, the entrance and educational
facilities can be used by all
residents. The six apartments on
each floor are organized around
two staircases. Every apartment is
unique and differs from the others
in size and layout, but they all have
a loggia overlooking the garden.
On the façade, the architects
decided to use special bricks, the
angled corners of which have been
cut away to create a 45 degree
corner. The bricks are laid in
opposite directions on alternating
layers to create a striking façade
and create a play of light and
shadow over the ceramic surface.
Thanks to these effects, the
building incorporates the historic
elements of ornamentation and
decoration, giving them a fresh
Anders Sune Bang
Praksis Architects, Denmark
Copenhagen, Denmark
Year: 2017
Frederiksbjerg School Photographer:
Hufton + Crow
Henning Larsen Architects
Frederiksbjerg, Aarhus, Denmark
Year: 2016 Wave Photographer:
Jacob Due
Henning Larsen Architects
Vejle, Denmark
Year: 2018
Blox - Home of the Danish
Architecture Center (DAC)
Rasmus Hjortshøj
Copenhagen, Denmark
Year: 2018
The previous Chapter provided a snapshot of the cur-
rent system of design governance and the main actors
in the five case studies. As was seen, all case stud-
ies have been in pursuit of a formal policy on architec-
ture for more than a decade, some for almost 20 years.
To push for its implementation, the first three (Ireland,
Flanders and Scotland) have established a State Archi-
tect team within their administrative structure, to pro-
vide spatial design leadership in general and improve
the design of public buildings in particular, through a
diversified set of design policy tools and actions. In the
remaining two (Denmark and Vienna) the system oper-
ates in a different way, taking advantage of a robust
cluster of actors and design advisory bodies, and with
a stronger emphasis on spatial design leadership at the
local level.
Against this background, the present Chapter intends
to develop a cross-cutting analysis of the first three
case studies with the objective of extracting some
conclusions on the role, instruments and impact of
State Architects teams, and hopefully underpin a more
refined answer to the background research questions
on the impact of design leadership on processes of
design governance. To do so, this chapter is organized
in three parts. The first will discuss the role of State
Architect’s teams in a comparative perspective across
the first three case studies. More specifically, it will dis-
cuss the advantages of having a State Architect office
in terms of processes of design governance. A second
part will review the different design policy tools used
by the State Architects and a third part will discuss the
State Architects red lines and main limitations.
The next Chapter will cross-analyse the five case stud-
ies together to compare the role and impact of the State
Architects in the three states analysed throughout this
Chapter (Ireland, Flanders and Scotland) against the
design governance system in Denmark and Vienna.
“I believe it is important because a State Archi-
tect gets to represent Ireland at a very senior
level. But also it shows an acknowledgement by
government that they value the contribution of
design for placemaking. We don’t have a state
engineer, wed don’t have a state surveyor, we
don’t have a state builder, but we do have a state
architect – and I think that has been an acknowl-
edgement by government, that the quality of what
we are building, the quality of places and how
we protect our architectural heritage requires an
architect at senior level.” (CEO, RIAI: Interview:
The above quote of the CEO of the Royal Institute of
the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) reflects her opinion on
whether the position of the State Architect was import-
ant to foster a placemaking culture in Ireland. The CEO’s
reply is quite explicit in terms of the added value of
having a State Architect. She continued saying that the
appointment of a State Architect by the government in
2009 was one of the architecture policy outputs but
also the political recognition of the importance of
design for high quality places. Since then, in her view,
the State Architect has been enormously helpful for the
government in leading and encouraging central and
local governments to aim for better places, to make
connections with other departments and stakeholders,
as well as to improve methods of working with local
authorities (Ibidem).
To varying degrees, the same positive view on the role
of a State Architect has been expressed by differ-
ent interviewees of all three countries under analysis.
In fact, they all agree that having a State Architect is
crucial in improving the role of the state, which should
lead by example and set an agenda for future action. To
better understand its role, this section will break down
the role of State Architects in five dimensions.
I. Providing spatial design leadership
The appointment of a State Architect is a direct
way for the government to take a leadership role in
design governance, by fostering and promoting a
place-making culture. In accordance with the the-
oretical discussion held in Chapter 3, from a gov-
ernance perspective the state should ‘steer and not
row’. This means that by setting a State Architect
team aimed at promoting design quality based on a
medium and long-term view, the government shows
the direction that society in general and develop-
ment actors in particular should take - through
the use of informal mechanisms of negotiation and
persuasion instead of more traditional “command
and control” instruments.
Acknowledging that the state is one of the major
clients of the construction industry and one of the
largest property owners, the methods and criteria
used by public bodies are usually then adopted as
a model by the private sector. Whether by central
government and its agencies or by local authori-
ties, the state should set an example by promoting
good practices as owner, developer and user of
public buildings (Ireland, 2009). Therefore, it must
present itself as an exemplary client committed to
quality in every aspect of building procurement
and property development (Ibidem). In this context,
the State Architects assume an important role of
design leadership, promoting design quality as a
cooperative aim across different sectors and levels
of public administration, even if in practical terms
this does not impose a new statutory framework. In
the case of Ireland, this is also done in a direct way