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CityLab helps both public and private sector clients optimise the role of design within their project. While our primary focus is on design services procurements, we have extensive experience in all aspects of early project definition, brief development and engagement processes.

Where a client has the existing organisational infrastructure, CityLab can work alongside this. Where they don‘t, CityLab can provide a fully independent service, engaging a range of sub-consultants as needed.

Our Principles

It is a foundational principle of all competitive processes that competitors are treated equally at all times. This is achieved by ensuring consistency and fairness in the assessment of eligibility criteria and evaluation criteria. All competitors should also have equal access to all competition information, resources and support. Where appropriate CityLab endorses and supports opportunities for providing equal opportunities to foster emerging and diverse talents and promote collaboration.

In most cases a design competition will be the beginning of a long working relationship with a future winner. The mutual respect that is established within a design competition process is the bedrock from which that relationship emerges. Respect in this context includes the balanced treatment of intellectual rights as well as liabilities. It also includes fair and reasonable remuneration to design professionals, acknowledging the value of the time and work it takes to produce quality design outcomes.

CityLab relies on the expertise of independent jury members and advisors to uphold fair processes and promote design integrity. By ensuring alignment with competitive process protocols of the Australian Institute of Architects as well as local and state consent authorities, including Design Excellence policies, CityLab is committed to delivering projects that advocate for good design and the interests of design professionals.

We embrace transparency in our processes to ensure fair and equitable settings for design professionals participating in competitions. Transparency is also key to ensuring that there are clear expectations and common goals shared with clients and stakeholders.

Services Overview

CityLab has extensive experience in running a wide range of competitive processes, including multi-stage open, select and invited architectural and design competitions, as well as leaner procurement processes such as Expressions of Interest and Requests for Proposals.

We can help guide clients to determine the most appropriate format and structure of their competitive process, understanding that each project has its unique set of priorities and requirements.

Throughout these processes we work with clients to facilitate stakeholder consultation and advice from specialists, brief writing and document development, site analysis, background and context research and contract development.

Advisory services also include moderating advisory groups and panels, communications and media advice, competitor liaison, liaising with the Australian Institute of Architects and Government Architects, technical and jury report writing, and secure document management.

Early Work

CityLab can assist clients from the very inception of a project, developing a business case, assisting with a project’s feasibility and guiding the early stages of project definition.

Ensuring that necessary site constraints are considered at an early stage is imperative to the development of a project. We liaise with clients and relevant consent authorities to step out the opportunities and challenges of sites, which better inform the project brief and the designers who are responding to it.

We can assist in the development of reference designs and massing studies to test the alignment of spatial constraints and required programs. We have experience in facilitating processes to meet other statutory requirements where relevant, such as the preparation of a Design Excellence Strategy if relevant to the project and its location and planning provisions.

CityLab also has many years of experience in liaising with the Australian Institute of Architects, should the client wish to pursue a competitive process that is endorsed by the Institute.


CityLab is an experienced host and facilitator of design-based workshops, helping to bring together clients, stakeholders and design professionals in a shared interrogation of project requirements.

Facilitation services include positive guidance workshops, site options testing, stakeholder engagement, industry forums and community engagement and consultation.

CityLab is committed to designing procurement processes that respect Country.

We embrace opportunities to engage appropriately with First Nations people, acknowledging that respectful involvement of First Peoples in project development is a constantly evolving area.

With the Australian Indigenous Design Charter as a primary reference, we welcome opportunities to work positively and respectfully with Country, Traditional Custodians and all First Peoples in design.


CityLab works alongside clients to develop all relevant competition and project documentation, from the design brief and competition conditions to a range of ancillary procurement documents including response schedules, online forms, risk and compliance schedules and site information.

Depending on the complexity of the project and internal resources of the client, CityLab can assist at whatever level is appropriate and required to structure, write and edit design briefs. We can also provide graphic design services to create finished designed documentation.


At the heart of any competitive process, there is a need to carefully manage the roles and responsibilities of all parties - clients, competitors, jurors, advisors and other professional services.

CityLab's role as competition advisor is to manage and coordinate all of these roles, ensuring appropriate separations and controlled interactions between parties.

We can either work with a client's preferred or statutory tender platform, or we can provide data room and online platform options, to ensure seamless, secure and efficient management of all documents.

Design Review

At CityLab we understand that the outcome of a design competition is only the first step in a long journey to the completion of a project.

That is why, following a given procurement process (or as an independent service), CityLab can facilitate an ongoing review of a winning scheme through design verification and development.

As may be relevant and necessary, we can help assemble panels of independent design experts and technical specialists, who support and provide constructive feedback to clients, architects and designers. This ensures that design integrity is maintained throughout the delivery of a building, from concept design and design development through to construction.