How to create a winning Awards submission

There are numerous local, country and international landscape architecture Awards that are currently open for submissions including the annual WLA Awards (closing March 6 registrations extended to March 13). This is a guide on how to create the best submission that may win you a landscape architecture award.

Know the eligibility criteria
All awards have a set of eligibility criteria, it may be years built or designed, size, budget, designer qualifications, membership. You need to know what the criteria are for the awards and the various categories to ensure that you are eligible to enter.

Understand the categories
Most Awards have several categories and these can be built, conceptual, research, communication, or other typologies. You need to know the criteria for each category.

Put the Dates in your calendar
What are the various dates for registration and entering? Do you have enough time to curate the entry? Make sure your team each have the dates in their calendars to make sure you don’t miss the deadline.

Understand the Submission Requirements
Each awards program have submissions requirements including format (template), number of images, number of words, credits, entry numbers, notation of credits(anonymous or noted).

What is the Registration Fee (and extras)?
There are numerous awards programs and some charge and all inclusive fee for the awards. Whereas others can charge an entry fee, award certificate/trophy fee, attendance fee and more. Make sure you understand the full cost of entering.

The WLA Awards have an inclusive entry fee that includes the registration fee and if your project wins you will receive a trophy or certificate.

Write an engaging Narrative / Story
The text provides project insights to the jury members and allows them to gain a great understanding of the project. The introduction should engage the juror to encourage them to continue reading and provide a strong narrative (story) about the project. Avoid writing a description of the design, it should be emotive and engaging. The text should include three key points that make your project unique and award-worthy.

You need to tailor the text to the category. Such as if you are writing for the research category, it is best to have an introduction, methodology and conclusion. However, if the word limit is short then provide a short introduction and a brief conclusion.

Images win Landscape Architecture Awards
Landscape architecture is best represented by good imagery (photography) and is key to ensuring that your entry gets shortlisted. You should have one or two “HERO” images that best represent the project and impress your audience.

The photos should be a diverse range of view compositions and scales. Each photo should tell the juror about the project. This can include a Hero image, wide shots, midrange shots and detail photos to tell the story of the project. There are various ways you can arrange the photos, either as walkthrough, area by area or just focus on the main features. The key is to select the best photos and try not to have similar views of the same focal point.

The images (photos, diagrams, plans) should showcase the project and match the text and vice-versa. There is nothing more frustrating as an editor or juror to read the text and then look through the images to realise that they do not match and the key points in the text is not illustrated in the images.

If you are allowed to have captions make sure to give an indication of where or what the juror is seeing. Try to avoid describing the photo (e.g. path through lawn area), be more evocative (e.g. A meandering path that draws the visitor through the West Woodland.).

WLA Awards allows four pages of images with either single or multiple images per page.

Test various layouts
Make sure to create several layouts with single images or multiple images on a page to test the hero (key) image, image composition, colour tones, contrast, day and night, midrange and detail.

Follow the Submission Format/Requirements to the letter
The award organisers may use an online platform or template that you email or file transfer service (dropbox, wetransfer). The key is to make sure that you follow the requirements for submissions including format, file size, file name, etc. This will make it easier for the organisers and also reduce the chance of your submission not being accepted.

Have fun
Most of all have fun with the process and if you are in an office with few people you can make it a group task with cut out images to create varying mockups of the layouts and this will also allow the team to be proud of their work.

The 2020 WLA Awards are currently open for registration until March 6 registrations extended to March 13.

Find out more at the awards page.

Article Written by Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of WLA.
Damian organises the WLA Awards and was a juror on the 2019 ASLA Student Awards.

DISCLAIMER: This article is for educational purposes only. The content is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest. It’s not intended to be comprehensive, nor to constitute advice. You should always obtain professional or legal advice, appropriate to your own circumstances, before acting or relying on any of the above content.

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