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With the no nonsense promise of direct commission and talent development, the Unfair Architect Award sets out to find the most inspiring design, bringing Unfair to another level.

We are thrilled to announce that from a staggering amount of submissions to our Open Call, our expert jury chose Studio Verter as the winner of the Unfair Architect Award 2023!

The winner

Studio Verter
‘fair upon fair upon fair’

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To mark the 10th anniversary of Unfair, Studio Verter looks back at previous exhibition designs as inspiration for their sketch proposal for UNFAIR23, ‘fair upon fair upon fair’. They drew upon the concept of ruins as a foundation for building the future of their design. By incorporating elements from past exhibition designs into a floor plan based on an organizing grid, Studio Verter pays homage to previous Architect Award winners. The result is a well-organized yet exhilarating presentation space that celebrates the legacy of Unfair.


The jury report

“The jury sees a strong narrative in Studio Verter’s proposal. The pronounced design strategy offers the proposal many points of reference and flexibility for further development, and appeals to the imagination. The resulting design is monumental in spatial terms and well contextualized. The principles that guide Studio Verter lead to high-quality presentation spaces for artists and an exciting walk-through. All things considered, the jury is particularly impressed with the quality of the design and research. It is therefore with great pleasure that the jury awards the Unfair Architect Award 2023 to Studio Verter.”

In Conversation with: Studio Verter

Read our interview with Studio Verter to learn about the inspirations, ideas, and narrative that form the backbone of their award-winning proposal.

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An award is not complete without fierce competition. Meet the runners-up and their fantastic proposals.

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Studio Acte
‘Circular Performance(s)’

Studio Acte’s design proposal ‘Circular Performance(s)’ takes inspiration from the Dutch second-hand market, known for its abundant supply of farming infrastructure. The proposal features modular farming structures that are often dismantled and replaced due to advancements in technology.

Studio Acte chooses to reuse old parts of greenhouses and farmhouses in order to create exhibition walls. As a direct answer to intensive material consumption and waste generated by most of the  exhibitions, biennales and fairs, ‘Circular Performance(s)’ aims to formalize scenarios where materials are reused and designed to be deconstructed and repurposed. The ensemble of repurposed materials evokes the imagery of a greenhouse, a symbol of the Dutch productive landscape.

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Studio Pallesh

For the UNFAIR23 design proposal, Studio Pallesh conducted research on historic city centers, examining how they grew and functioned. Ancient cities tended to have organic shapes influenced by geographic factors, social context, and infrastructure. In these cities, there was a natural balance between private indoor spaces and public outdoor spaces like squares and streets. Studio Pallesh incorporated the modular approach to designing houses and neighborhoods, with the iconic square in the center, as is typical in a traditional city plan. This design draws visitors into the Arabic ‘Medina’  and immerses them in the vibrant culture of the city.

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Jonas Stappers & Justin Errami
‘Reconsidering the white cube’ 

In the design “Reconsidering the white cube,” Jonas Stappers and Justin Errami contrast the white cube with the anti-white cube. In the white cube, art is presented in a context that isolates it from the surrounding world, emphasizing its autonomy. In contrast, the anti-white cube is a space where art and the environment can interrelate. According to Stappers and Errami, the white cube is defined, static, and autonomous, while the anti-white cube is undefined, chaotic, and contextual. To manifest this contrast, they use the backstage spaces equally to the front stage in their design. This approach emphasizes the unique characteristics of both presentation forms.

The shortlist

Meet our shortlisted architects;

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Jonas Stappers and Justin Errami

Jonas Stappers and Justin Errami, current and former students of the MSc. Architecture at TU Delft, are interdisciplinary designers/artists with evolving interests in architecture/music/graphic design/fashion. In particular, they are interested in the complexities happening within the ‘/’. Their design frameworks are intended to spark dialogues that challenge normative design, and by introducing a sense of friction into their work, they aim to question the designer’s often-imposing role. They believe that their approach creates space for a diverse range of outcomes arising from designer-user collaboration.

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Studio ACTE

Studio ACTE is a Dutch-French architecture practice founded in Rotterdam by Estelle Barriol. The studio specializes in exploring resilient forms of architecture inspired by vernacular systems, with an emphasis on low-tech and geo-sourced designs based on reuse. Through their design and build method, the studio seeks to create regenerative architectures that promote collective self-building processes and prioritize craftsmanship and aesthetics as an equation towards sustainability. They place a strong emphasis on hands-on research to create unique built forms focusing on details and assemblies instead of standard elements.

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Studio Pallesh

Studio Pallesh, an Amsterdam-based architecture firm, is run by Richard Proudley and Milad Pallesh. Richard graduated from the Academy of Architecture in 2019 with a plan for “An (extra)ordinary row of houses” and has worked for various reputable firms. Milad graduated in 2015 with a plan for “Pairi Dæza,” which won the public prize and first prize in Archiprix in 2016. After working with various collaborators, he founded Studio Pallesh in 2020. The firm’s work focuses on themes such as layering, hospitality, and materiality, with a belief in the craft of architecture and a commitment to creating homes for everyone.

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Studio Verter

Studio Verter is an architecture practice based in Rotterdam, established in 2018 by Claudio Saccucci and Roxane van Hoof. Their expertise lies in the fields of architecture, design, research, and education. The practice’s primary objective is to create a clear architecture that emphasizes evident spaces while paying close attention to detail and materiality. Their projects reflect an ongoing exploration of material, composition, and experiential qualities.

Photo by Ying Shuxi

The Jury

Our shortlist is selected by our expert jury members, with expertise in a wide range of fields, all trained in distinguishing talent when they see it.

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Kirsten Hannema

Journalist, writer

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Niraj Sewraj

Development manager,
BPD Gebiedsontwikkeling

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Tomas Dirrix

winner Architect Award 2018

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Indira van ‘t Klooster

Director Arcam

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Peter van der Es
& Adam Nillissen

Founders Unfair

Selection criteria

Unfair focusses on architects in the formative years of their practice, in the first 10 years after graduation, based in or working from the Netherlands, or practices that sprouted here because of past projects or studies. Architects, studios or collectives that fall within these categories are eligible to partake in the competition. We primarily focus on contestants that have an emerging or renowned architectural practice and want to develop their portfolio, specifically in the direction of exhibition design or large scale scenography.

In your submitted portfolio, please clearly include a resume with past studies and relevant recent projects.  Incomplete submissions will not be taken into consideration.


From all admissions, four participants will be invited to develop a sketch of their design idea for Unfair, end of February. The nominated participants will be supported and guided by Unfair in the development of their idea and can get to know their potential client at the same time. A fee per participant has been reserved for the design sketches. The shortlisters eventually pitch their concept design to the jury mid April, from which the jury will choose one winner. The winner of the Unfair Architect Award will receive a fee to further develop their design for Unfair, taking place in November 2023.

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The Award

We proudly present the fourth installment of our visionary biennial architecture award for the best up and coming architects of today. Designed to celebrate and promote the architectural stars of the future, the Unfair Architect Award yet again showcases a unique cross-over between current architecture and contemporary art. The award is the tender for the exhibition design of Unfair23, the 10-year-anniversary edition of our exhibition and art fair showcasing leading young contemporary artists in November 2023 in Amsterdam. Over 60 up and coming artists present their latest work in solo-presentations, showing a unique overview of the most recent developments in contemporary art in the Netherlands.

From our open call, our expert jury nominates four participants who will been given the opportunity to propose a design for the next Unfair. The short-listers will develop and pitch their concept design to the jury. In the final round, the jury will choose one winner who will be awarded the Unfair Architect Award ‘23 and will get the opportunity to further develop their design for the next Unfair.


The winning design

Who ever decided art fairs should all look the same? Boring! Away with the traditional square booth designs, we set out to find a new fair design for every Unfair edition with our Architect Award. Besides catering the many programs and artists we host, the winning design gets to shine on three consecutive editions of Unfair, in varying compositions. With this, we want to develop a more sustainable design, while still guaranteeing a unique experience for visitors and artists on each edition.

The Unfair Architect Award yet again showcases a unique cross-over between current architecture and contemporary art.

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Unfair is an artist focussed art fair and exhibition with a unique formula. Over 60 up and coming artists present their latest work in solo-presentations, showing a unique overview of the most recent developments in contemporary art in the Netherlands. Artists are the backbone of this event; they are invited to showcase their own works, represent themselves and pay no standrental or commercial commissions over sales. Part of our DNA is our Artist Fund, a revolving fund that enables artists to invest in their presentation at Unfair and support future generations of artists doing the same. With our event we are bridging the gap between institutions and the market, helping artists to develop their careers, present their work ánd sell it. We are as much engaged with bringing cutting edge artworks to the market, as we are with taking care artists have healthy options to develop their practice and work in a fair art market.

This year is special; Unfair23 marks our 10 year anniversary since the first edition in 2013. We want to celebrate this, hopefully leaving the recent cultural corona crisis behind us and focus on new beginnings. For Unfair23, we will be inviting a specially curated group of artists that have started their careers in times of hardship, focussing on their unique and inspiring drive to succeed.


Traditionally, Unfair will be held at the Gashouder in Amsterdam. This large industrial hall is known as the heart of the old gas factory that the Westergasfabriek once was. The former storage gas tank, with a surface area of 2500 m2 and the impressive height of 14.5 meters, was built in 1902 and designed by architect Isaac Gosschalk. While it’s a challenging location regarding the exhibition design, it also grants the opportunity to elevate Unfair to greater heights.



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Previous winners

Fabulous Future

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With their design Destination Center: Swamp, Fabulous Future moves away from the architectural conventions behind art fairs. The project adapts to the circular structure of the monumental Gashouder, utilising a flexible and lightweight modular scenography system. Elements inspired by set design, wastelands and labyrinths divide the Gashouder into three distinct zones which play with translucency, artificiality and suspense.

Unknown Architects

For “Collage City” Unknown Architects were inspired by four visionary urban plans from the past. Unfair22 was characterized by four unique areas, each with its own character: coulisses, light-air-space, square and superstructure.

Atelier Tomas Dirrix

The design of Unfair18, “Four Walls”,by Tomas Dirrix is based on the origins of the ‘fair’ as an spontaneously built extension of public life. Four folded walls, each of nearly hundred meters long form the overall scenography.

Donna van Milligen Bielke

“Unfair Spaces” by Donna van Milligen Bielke was the spacial design for Unfair16. A number of walls, varying in thickness, seemingly randomly positioned, divide the big hall into a non-hierarchical arrangement of empty spaces of various size.

Arna Mačkić and Lorien Beijaert (Studio L A)

Arna Mačkić and Lorien Beijaert designed Unfair14. Visitors could fluently move through the space while the triangular walls contiguously created open and closed spaces, it was a combination between an art installation and a functional art fair.

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