Smithfield Market, Birmingham

On behalf of Lendlease, working in collaboration with Birmingham City Council, we are delighted to announce a competition to find a design-led team for the new Market that is at the heart of the ambitious Birmingham Smithfield development: one of the largest and most exciting city centre regeneration opportunities in Europe.

The vision for Birmingham Smithfield is to create a new destination in the heart of the city centre, including new cultural and leisure attractions, lively retail markets and spaces for new and existing small businesses, as well as a residential neighbourhood with a high-quality public realm and integrated public transport links to the wider city centre.

Announcing the winner

We are delighted to announce that the team led by David Kohn Architects has won this competition.

For further information please see the Press Release in the side-bar of this website.

  • David Kohn Architects
  • Moreau Kusunoki
  • 5th Studio
  • ACME and b720 Fermín Vázquez arquitectos
  • Publica Associates Ltd

Competition updates

The winners of this competition will be announced in the New Year.. Watch this space!

We received an impressive array of 75 entries for this competition, from across the world: UK, Australia, France, Netherlands, Scandinavia, Singapore, Spain and the USA.

We are delighted to announce that five teams have been selected to take part in Stage 2:

  • 5th Studio with John O'Mara Architects; Counterculture; New Economic Foundation; The Planning Lab; Donald Hyslop; EMF Landscape and Arup
  • ACME and b720 Fermín Vázquez arquitectos with James Corner Field Operations; onedotzero; AKTII; ECF Farmsystems; Gleeds and dn&co
  • David Kohn Architects with Céline Condorelli; Eastside Projects; Mark El-khatib; Ania Bas; Charcoalblue; Todd Longstaffe-Gowan; Price & Myers; Max Fordham
  • Moreau Kusunoki with McGregor Coxall and Arup
  • Publica Associates Ltd with Alejandro Echeverri; Shigeru Ban Architects; Waugh Thistleton Architects; AKT II; Doshi Levien and Nigel Dunnett

Congratulations to these teams and huge thanks to everyone who participated: there is no doubt that with so many amazing and intriguing responses to the challenge, and only five places in the shortlist, many excellent teams did not make the cut.

We apologise for the technical issues that affected some competitors when submitting their proposals this morning. The problem has now been resolved.
We have sent confirmation receipt emails to all competitors from whom we have received a submission.
+44 (0)20 8771 6445

Additional information regarding project budget added - see Q&A pdf in the side-bar of this webpage.
The interview date for Stage 2 has now been confirmed: 27 September 2019.

Answers to competitors' queries have been added as a pdf in the side-bar of this webpage.

Please note that the submission date for Stage 2 of the competition has been moved from 20 August 2019 to 06 September 2019.

The Competition

A pdf copy of this brief can be downloaded from the side-bar on this webpage.

Above all else, the winners of this competition will be fantastic designers: able to create a Market that combines extraordinary and joyful architecture with a lively and unpredictable market atmosphere that is created by the people who use it.

The challenge will be to deliver both: the finished project must stand up to scrutiny as an exceptional piece of architecture that responds with dignity to its complex inner-city location, but it must also become a backdrop, within which the theatre of a buzzy market can unfold, and in which memories can be created.

Unsurprisingly, given the nature of the project, this is not a competition to identify a design for the Market. This is because design ideas will be created through a collaborative design process with a myriad of stakeholders, once the team has been appointed.

So, this is a competition to find an interdisciplinary team of exceptional designers with brilliant leadership skills, with whom this amazing project can be created.

The competition is split into two distinct parts:


An open call, asking for expression of interest from inspiring teams that believe they have the ability to rise to this creative challenge.


No more than five teams will be shortlisted to take part in Stage 2, which will include a mid-tender charrette with local stakeholders and culminate in an interview with the Jury Panel.

It is Lendlease’s intention to appoint the winning team to design, and play a lead role in delivering, the project through to completion.

The competition is being managed on behalf of Lendlease by Colander Associates. This means that Colander is the point of contact for competitors and all communications must be channelled through us via the email address:

About the project

The £1.5bn development of Birmingham Smithfield is part of Birmingham’s Big City Plan launched in 2010, which sets out a 25-year vision to support Birmingham’s continuing transformation into a world class city. As one of the key areas of transformation, Birmingham Smithfield is located directly adjacent to the Bullring and New Street Station; it will be a short walk from the new High Speed 2 City Centre Terminus Station, and will include retail; the Market; family leisure; a significant new cultural building; a residential neighbourhood; public squares and an integrated transport network.

Smithfield is the birthplace of Birmingham, a city that is known for its markets: indeed, there has been a market in the area for over 850 years. While the wholesale market moved out of the city centre in 2018, the indoor and outdoor markets, including the thriving food market and the world-famous Rag Market, remain in the area, with around 500 traders, many of whom are expected to move into the new building.

The vision for the new Market builds on Birmingham’s illustrious history as the 'City of a Thousand Trades' and aims to create a place of connection, transaction and glorious experiences. It will be the focus for trade as well as social and cultural events: a place to explore, discover, share ideas, news and knowledge. It will also be a catalyst for social and economic prosperity, encouraging entrepreneurship and local enterprise.

As the gateway to the wider Smithfield development, the Market complex will be one of the first elements of the masterplan to be built, it represents a significant investment and commitment to the city. Given its direct link to the Bullring, it will remain a beacon for the area in years to come. Most importantly, it will be the standard bearer for the quality and character of the overall project, setting the tone, as the centrepiece of both Smithfield and the rejuvenated city.

A mix of uses with a range of offerings is envisaged within the Market, including a new fresh food and produce market; an associated dining area with street food, cafes and restaurants, as well as the revitalised Rag Market, with outlets for creative entrepreneurs in new studios and workshops. The roofscape is conceived as a publicly accessible, productive landscape or urban farm. Above the indoor market, a new work-place building is envisaged to cater to the growing demand for modern, robust, co-working and studio spaces.

Birmingham’s markets have always had a strong history of inclusion and this new iteration will continue to be a place for everyone, serving the local community, welcoming visitors and being a net contributor to the wealth and diversity of the city. To achieve this ambition, the new Market will need to be multi-faceted in its appeal: highly functional, serving local, daily food and commodity needs but also a place of intrigue and excitement, attracting visitors from near and far who want to buy the distinctive goods on offer and to witness, and play a part in local culture, in beautiful surroundings. Local residents should feel real affinity with the Market and they should be proud to call it part of their home town but equally, tourists visiting the UK should plan to come to Birmingham because they have heard about its amazing markets, which have become a noted asset to Brand UK.

Unsurprisingly, much like Birmingham itself, the area around the Market is already brimming with creativity and opportunity and it is this spirit that will need to be captured in the new Market. With its own curated performance spaces and links to the adjacent leisure facilities, the Market will become a lively and ever-changing contributor to the local arts and culture scene, throughout the day, seven days a week and in all seasons. In addition, it is expected to play a vital part in the place making and public realm of the wider development, bringing life and activity to the new Market Square and offering a welcoming backdrop to the new Festival Square, while also linking through streets and alleys into the city as a whole. Its success will transform the city, delivering a sense of pride and enjoyment that enriches and adds value far beyond the redline boundaries of the site itself.

Characteristics of the winning team

Good design is at the heart of this selection process.

We are looking for people who can act as design leaders for the project; who really understand Lendlease’s desire for excellence; who have exceptional creativity; who can ignite a passion for design in others; who can communicate the value of good design and who can act as the catalyst for design ingenuity: essentially, people to take the creative lead on this special but complex project.

Design leadership, creativity and a passion for creating places for people are the first criteria for selection; management and design-delivery expertise will follow.

It is likely that the skills required will be architect-led but this is not a requirement: first and foremost, we are looking for design leadership and the interdisciplinary skills that will enable design ideas to flourish: be they architectural, interior design, theatre design, engineering, environmental, story-telling, graphic design, place-making, landscape, artistic, curatorial…. Lendlease is looking for a team that is able to generate new, yet achievable ideas that will set pioneering standards for this type of development for the years to come but who are also able to tap into the spirit of Birmingham and design a market that respects the history of the site and reflects the cultural and commercial aspirations of the city and its people.

As well as being exceptional designers, the team must be able to demonstrate an ability to present design ideas effectively, to listen and respond to feedback and to enjoy working in a collaborative, interdisciplinary environment. The team will be expected to work in collaboration with Lendlease’s masterplan design team led by Prior + Partners and with market specialists Greig & Stephenson, who will provide the technical specification for the Market. Please note that competitors are asked not to make contact with these organisations; any queries about the competition must be emailed to

Most importantly, the team must relish the opportunity of working with Lendlease to harness the interests and enthusiasms of the existing market traders, the adjacent retailers and residents, the people of Birmingham and local educational establishments, as well as other stakeholder groups, and ensure that the project resonates with the right people from day one.

This all means that the composition of the winning team will need to be carefully crafted, not least because the challenge is not ‘pure architecture’ but one that will require the skills and imagination of a diverse group of people, with exceptional creative talents, an extraordinary ability to communicate concisely and effectively with both lay people and professionals, and an instinct for collaborative working.

Competition Stage 1: Open Call

If you would like to be considered for this project, you will need to submit an expression of interest no later than noon on 08 July 2019.


Any queries about this open call should be sent to no later than 19 June 2019. Responses to the queries that we receive will be posted on this competition website by 24 June 2019.

Competitors are requested to keep an eye on this website, as any updates to the competition process will be posted here.


Safety – in design, construction and operations – is an absolute priority for Lendlease and the appointed design team will be expected not only to adhere to Lendlease’s safety guides for the design and construction of the project itself, but also to operate best practice within their own organisations.

Equally Lendlease has set itself a high standard when it comes to diversity and fairness and, as an employer, it expects these standards to be upheld by those that it engages to work on its projects.

Your expression of interest should comprise:

  1. An illustrated think-piece of no more than 750 words over no more than six sides of A4, setting out what your team believes will be the three most important design considerations on this project. Your illustrations might include sketches and diagrams, images of your own past work as well as other sources of inspiration. Please identify illustrations that show projects that have been undertaken by team members. The purpose of this think-piece is to demonstrate your ability to think outside the box, to be creative and to communicate design ideas clearly.
  2. No more than five sides of A4, including an organogram showing how the team will be structured and led. Introduce the people or organisations that have been included in the team, with a short statement as to why each has been chosen for this project. Also, in no more than 300 words summarise why this team is right for this project. The purpose of this document is to demonstrate the design leadership, skills, expertise and collaborative thinking within the team.
  3. A single cover sheet that includes:
    • Contact person: name, phone and email address
    • Lead organisation: name, address, phone, website
    • The names and web addresses of the organisations included in the team, and their role on this project
    • Confirmation that all members of the team are paying a living wage to everyone working in their organisations.
    • Acknowledgement that all team members have read and understood the sustainability and safety requirements set out in Lendlease’s Global Minimum Requirement (GMR) documents (a pdf version can be found in the side-bar on this webpage).

Your submission must be emailed in pdf format to

Please note that attachments to your email will not be acceptable if files are larger than 10MB, so we recommend using WeTransfer or equivalent if this is the case. Hard copy submissions will not be accepted. Competitors will receive an email acknowledgement that their submission has been received.


At this stage, competitors will be judged on their creative thinking and how this could be brought to bear on this project, through design leadership. Also, on their ability to communicate the value of design with clarity and passion.

The panel will be looking to create a diverse shortlist, therefore weightings will not be applied to the judging criteria:

Please note that it will not be possible to give detailed feedback to teams that are not shortlisted. All teams shortlisted to Stage 2 of the competition will be given feedback, if requested.

Competition Stage 2: Invitation to Tender

The Jury Panel will shortlist no more than five teams: teams that it believes have the creativity, ambition and communication skills to conceive and help deliver something extraordinary for the Market.

Details of the Stage 2 requirements will be given to the shortlisted teams. Each Stage 2 competitor will be offered an honorarium as a contribution to expenses, of £10,000, payable on receipt of a compliant Stage 2 submission.

Shortlisted teams will be expected to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement before taking part in Stage 2.

There will be an initial site visit and briefing meeting, including design delivery discussions with individual teams, in Birmingham on 25 July 2019; there will be a mid-term charrette held in Birmingham on 08 August 2019; the deadline for submitting Stage 2 documents is noon on 06 September 2019; interviews with the Jury Panel will take place on 27 September 2019.

Given that Stage 1 of this competition is focused on design quality, it is likely that there will be a wide range of experience and management capabilities within the shortlisted teams, which will need to be understood and discussed to enable Stage 2 to proceed fairly and openly.

Broadly speaking, having set the benchmark for creative talent in Stage 1, Stage 2 of the competition will consider three things:

  1. Approach to design
    Remember, this is not a competition to identify a design for the Market, this will be created through a collaborative design process, once the team has been appointed, therefore specific designs for the Market will not be required in Stage 2 of this competition.
    As well as attending the mid-term charrette, teams will be asked to submit three A2 boards that explore their design thinking and approach in more depth, supported by a video of no more than two minutes that explains how members of the team communicate design to others.
  2. Design delivery
    Lendlease will wish to understand how, if at all, each team will need to be bolstered or supported if it is to deliver what is a complex and substantial inner-city project.
    Meetings will be held with each team to understand what, if any, support will be required to enable that team to design the project, should it be appointed. Each team will then be expected to respond with a design-delivery report explaining how they would expect to deliver the agreed scope of work.
  3. Fees
    Fee proposals, including day rates, which will be requested in a format that allows fees to be compared across all competitors. Fee submissions will be submitted in a sealed envelope, separate from the rest of the submission, so that the qualitative assessment can be undertaken before fees are considered.


Details of the judging criteria will be issued to Stage 2 competitors. It is expected that Stage 2 submissions will be judged on a ratio of 80:20, where 80% of the scores will be allocated to the approach to design and design delivery and 20% will be allocated to fees.

Jury Panel

The jury panel for this competition will include representatives of Lendlease and Birmingham City Council.

They will be joined by Amanda Levete of AL_A as the external architectural advisor.

Key programme dates

It is Lendlease’s intention to appoint the design team in September 2019, with a view to submitting for Planning in Spring 2020, and a start on site in Spring 2022, for an opening in 2025.


The ownership of copyright of all ideas submitted will be in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patent Act 1988.


There will be publicity associated with this competition as it progresses.

In particular there will be public interest around the Stage 2 charrette and the Stage 2 submissions will be used in publicity to announce the competition winner. By entering the competition, competitors acknowledge this fact, and freely consent to their submissions being used for publicity purposes.


Any submission will be excluded from the competition if:

  • It is received after the submission deadlines
  • In the opinion of the Jury Panel, it does not fulfil the requirements of the brief
  • A competitor improperly attempts to influence the decision
  • Any of the mandatory requirements of the competition brief and conditions are disregarded.

The small print

While the information contained in this document is believed to be correct at the time of issue, neither Lendlease, Birmingham City Council nor their advisors make any warranty or representation (express or implied) with respect to such information; nor will they accept any liability for its accuracy, adequacy or completeness.

Please note that while Lendlease has every intention of appointing the winning team to design and deliver the project through to completion, it reserves the right to make changes to the team and the procurement process if required.

Colander Associates has taken all reasonable efforts to ensure that the information included on this site is accurate, however, it cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies or inconsistencies.