to improve & make more transparent public procurement for architecture

nieuwsbericht | 16 maart 2015

150316 is an international platform that aims for better & transparent public procurement for architecture via an e-procurement system, based on the ‘Steunpunt system’ as a uniform European ‘golden standard’. The platform is a joint Dutch/British initiative which was first presented November  2014 in Amsterdam. The website was launched February  2015 in London. The founding organisations are Architectuur Lokaal for The Netherlands and Project Compass CIC for the United Kingdom. Other national organisations can join the

TheFulcrum shares expertise is an intelligent access and data gathering platform furthering reform of architectural procurement. It allows best practice and innovations to be stored, shared and disseminated whilst building evaluations, networks and developing knowledge about EU architectural and design procurement practices. Objectives at national and EU levels are: to promote market transparency, to encourage more professional procurement (clients, contractors and designers), to promote simplification and flexibility in tendering practices, to offer designers better access to the international market and greater collaboration, to offer young talent more opportunities, and develop appropriate standardisation In general wants to share and develop knowledge through a cross border platform, to stimulate cross border innovation and trade, to promote building culture in relation to the economy and to consistently improve practice.

TheFulcrum is an international platform is a collaboration between national projects governed by a mutual memorandum of agreement. It is not another abstract, distant European initiative; the heart of the project rests at the national level. This grassroots approach serves to firmly root the transnational collaboration in specific local market conditions.
Each national participant offers a national portal on the basis of the Steunpunt system (so all affiliated national portals use the same system). An essential part of the national portals is a database that discloses all notices of public contracts and design contests of the country concerned in a transparent fashion. uses an automated script to read these national databases into one European portal. The other content of is a matter of collaboration and negotiation between the national partners.

TheFulcrum promulgates the Steunpunt system as golden e-procurement standard
In the Netherlands Architectuur Lokaal has been developing a highly successful system through its Steunpunt Architectuuropdrachten en Ontwerpwedstrijden [Helpdesk Architectural Commissions and Design contests] since 1997. This Steunpunt system offers a database covering all notices for public contracts and contests in the field of architecture, assists (public) clients and market operators in the architectural sector and promulgates best practices. It is a comprehensive system, offering tangible products (digital manuals, statistics, publications) and intangible services (advice and support). The use of the platform of the Steunpunt is free of charge to all users.

TheFulcrum  has no EU funding (yet)
Resources are allocated by the national organisations. National partners pay a small fee to contribute to the development costs of the system and the costs of maintaining the digital portals. Obtaining (EU) government funding to expand the system across Europe might be an option for the future.
The Fulcrum project work is mainly done at the local level by the national partners themselves. Each national partner has the obligation to offer a national portal on the basis of the Steunpunt system/database. Harvesting data (notices) for the national portal is the prime responsibility of the national partner. If need be, the experienced founding partners (Architectuur Lokaal and Project Compass) can offer assistance in setting up a national portal. National data is read automatically for The founding partners are responsible for the content management of the European portal, of course in consultation with the other national participants.

Independent national partners can join TheFulcrum
National organisations wanting to join can contact the founding partners. We aim for one representative for each country (or administrative unit in case of a federal system). Once we have agreement on the memorandum governing the project, the new party can join. We can provide templates and assistance in setting up a national portal and once this national portal is operative, we can add the country concerned to portal.

The founding partners are keen on keeping the system clear, simple, public, and transparent. They guarantee the users that the data are reliable, accurate and not influenced by any external interests or factors. This calls for independency, integrity, reliability, wide public respect and support.
Therefore the memorandum of the Fulcrum project stipulates that:

  • National partners must be independent and not for profit,
  • All affiliated portals must be publicly accessible on a not for profit basis,
  • National partners agree to work between stakeholders, they do not represent the interest of a single stakeholder,
  • National partners are committed to promote the professionalization and transparency of public procurement of architecture at the national and international stage,
  • National partners are obliged to maintain a national public procurement portal on the basis of the Steunpunt system and pool their data for,
  • Each country (or administrative unit within a country in the case of a federal system) is represented by just one national partner.

TheFulcrum  is founded by
Architectuur Lokaal is the independent, not for profit national centre of expertise, devoted to building culture in The Netherlands by improving patronage in architecture. Architectuur Lokaal is designated as a cultural organisation for the public good. Its Steunpunt Architectuuropdrachten & Ontwerpwedstrijden (since 1997) advises public and private clients about (European) procurement procedures and competitions (architect services and integrated contracts).

Project Compass CIC has been developed and funded by a dedicated group of architects (since 2013) who have formed it as a CIC (Community Interest Company), with the aim of opening, promoting and making access to a high quality built environment easier, simpler, more economical and more importantly transparent.