For the 2021 award, the jury has decided on a leap in scale – from the scale of buildings to the scale of cities – and are looking at works that offer seminal solutions to the challenges facing cities.

This is intentionally a very broadly defined call for nominations. The jury considers that a broad perspective is needed in order to propose a new urban strategy to tackle the immense risks that climate change pose for people and for the planet.

Jury’s statement

All the available scientific expertise on climate change show that there is not time for an evolutionary change anymore. The change has got to be a radical one if the world as we know it still has a chance. Architecture cannot stand back and follow its routine. It has to make up its mind and propose solutions beyond its hitherto scope and potential. It has got to develop new and seminal ideas.

Here are some obligations: Construction and buildings should be energy-neutral/-positive, should make use of alternatives to steel and concrete, should develop new types of housing in big cities.


The world’s population is still growing. The space of living has become a scarce good. The water-level of the oceans is rising. People are looking for refuge. The natural environment is more than ever a scarce good. Clean water and fresh air are scarce goods. Scarcity of environmental goods and basic ecosystem services are now the basis for all future commitments of architecture.

The planet needs mending. It needs more than mending. It needs creative mending and wholly new ideas. Not only in architecture, of course. But architecture can and must take care of the natural environment. It can and must develop alternative and sustainable uses of space; new and innovative materials; holistic design approaches and construction methods, to name a few.

It can and must develop climate-positive solutions in building on an available level. Architecture can and must offer new and daring solutions. On an urban scale.



What are the criteria for the award?

The award is given to physical works or projects inaugurated within the past five years. The award can be given to an architect or group of architects, and the award-winning projects can range from manifesto to master plan and include buildings, landscape projects, and exhibitions.

The OBEL AWARD can be won by any eligible candidate regardless of nationality, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, ideology, or age.

How can I apply?

We do not accept applications for the OBEL AWARD. Identifying a winning project takes place in a closed process.

What does the prize entail?

The winning project receives a prize sum of €100,000. The winner also becomes a member of the award winner network and will be invited to all OBEL AWARD ceremonies and events.

The award winner is expected to give a masterclass or lecture which is open to the public.

When is the award presented?

The next award ceremony takes place on 21 October 2021.