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Europan Prize for Cities

Laura Puttkamer

The Europan Prize for Cities is a competition for young architects under 40. Read more about the competition and the winners of the 2021 prizes.

The project "Ettlingen Querbeet" is one of the winners of the 2021 Europan Prize. (Photo:




The Europan think tank

Europan is a European think tank as well as an association of architects. The organisation hosts the biennial EUROPAN competition for young architects under 40 years to design innovative housing schemes across Europe. This thematic idea competition is then followed by implementation processes.

At the same time, Europan acts as a tool for European cities and urban actors to “find and develop innovative strategies for their sites in transformation”, according to their website. The result is a large platform of many innovative ideas that can inspire architects everywhere. National teams organise the competition which then takes place at European level with a common theme and common objectives.

The EUROPAN competition

The EUROPAN competition is at the heart of Europan’s work. It is open to young professionals in the field of architecture, urban design, engineering, and landscape architecture with a European degree or working in Europe accordingly. Each team must have at least one graduated architect.

Competitors receive a list or urban sites in European towns as well as a programme brief. Sites have three scales, from micro to macro. Participants submit projects for one or several of these sites. If, however, they choose more than two sites, they must be located in different countries.

Rules and judging methods are identical in all participating countries. Each project must include a strategic reflection in addition to an urban-architectural project on a defined area of the site. Submission includes 3 panels, 3 images, a communication text, and finally a project description of 4 pages.

National juries in each country preselect the most innovative projects for each site and pass them on to the Europan Scientific Council, which analyses the projects at a European level. During a second meeting of national juries, a final decision of winning teams is made. Winners and runners-up receive a prize, and the winners consequently get help in obtaining a commission for project implementation.

The project "Archive of European Culture" also convinced the jury. (Photo:

EUROPAN 16 in 2021

In 2021, the EUROPAN 16 competition took place. It had the motto “Living Cities. Metabolic Vitalities – Inclusive Vitalities” and asked participants for designs that can face climate change and inequalities by imagining other possibilities to inhabit the planning. The jury also looked for new kinds of synergies between the environmental, biological, social, economic, cultural, and political.

Sites had the following themes:


  • Reinforcing Biodiversity
  • Transforming from the Infrastructures
  • Making Territories Performative


  • Dynamising Landscapes
  • Intensifying Districts
  • Stimulating Interfaces


  • Valorising Natural Elements and Landscapes
  • Dealing with New Uses
  • Reinventing Rurality and Productive Heritage

1,021 people registered to participate in the competition, which resulted in 677 entries. Overall, 127 prizes were given to 40 winners and 41 runners-up plus 46 special mentions. The projects had a scope of 40 different sites throughout Europe. Of these, 3 were in Austria, 3 in Belgium, 11 in France, 5 in Germany, 2 in Italy, 4 in Norway, 7 in Spain, 3 in Sweden, and 2 in Switzerland.

The winning projects

Winning teams of the EUROPAN 16 competition were announced on December 13th, 2021, with the full list of winning teams available here.

17 different countries are represented among the winners, with most teams winning in their residence country. Spanish, Italian, and German teams eventually had the highest numbers of prizes for projects on foreign sites.

Both winning and runner-up teams receive a prize of 12,000 € and 6,000 € respectively. For EUROPAN 16, 726,000 € were distributed. The winners showed an overwhelming interest in creating synergies between different dimensions of cities. They addressed contemporary issues and questions such as:

  • How does taking climate change into account force us to think of a new ecosystem between nature and culture?
  • How can we think of the city in terms of metabolic dynamics in relation to cyclical processes that spare the environment and move from a linear economy to a circular economy?
  • How can nature invest urban territories?
  • How to take care of living environments and transform segregated spaces by linking the social with the ecological?
  • How to overcome the city-nature opposition by minimising the environmental footprint and the consumption of non-renewable energy?
  • How can the project put resources, common goods, recycling, hybridisation, sharing and temporalities into space, while preserving them?


You can read about some of the previous winners of the Europan Prize here.

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