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Culture and Creativity


Discover the links between EU policies, programmes and architecture.

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The European Union is developing an integrated and people-centred approach to a sustainable built environment, where architecture has a major role to play to design buildings, public space and urban landscapes that contribute to citizens’ quality of life. 

It does this through many EU policies and funding programmes such as the cultural policy and the initiatives of the Creative Europe programme listed below.

The current EU Work Plan for Culture 2023-2026 includes quality built environment in the actions for EU cooperation on culture. This looks to achieve a high-quality living environment for everyone, including those living in rural and remote areas, such as outermost regions.

Facts and figures about architects in Europe

A 2022 study by the Architect’s Council of Europe (ACE) estimated there to be 620 000 architects in Europe. These contribute €21 billion worth of work to Europe’s economy.

Sustainable architecture is growing rapidly: 46% of architects ‘frequently’ design low energy buildings.

21% of architects were educated in another country, and another 19% have seriously considered working in another country.

The study also highlights that gender balance is becoming more equal: In 2022, 46% of architects in Europe are female compared to 36% 10 years before. The pay gap still exists but is down to 17%, almost half of what it was ten years before.

EU Policy framework: a brief timeline


Five years after the adoption of the Davos Declaration, a second Conference of European Ministers of Culture under the title “Common Good – Shared Responsibility” took place. Ministers discussed with representatives of the private sector how to achieve together high-quality Baukultur for Europe. As an outcome, the Davos Baukultur Alliance united Baukultur actors from the public and private sectors and civil society.


The European Ministers of Culture and stakeholders adopted the Davos Declaration “Towards a High-quality Baukultur for Europe” in January 2018. It highlighted the central role of culture in the built environment and called for an integrated and quality-based approach to the environment shaped by man.

The concept of Baukultur includes architecture, heritage, public space, landscape and infrastructure.


The French Ministry of Culture organised an informal meeting of the European Directors of Architecture (EDAP) in 2017 to the discuss the concept of Baukultur and to exchange good practices among the EDAP. Since then, EDAP gather under each Presidency of the Council of the European Union to consider possible initiatives to achieve a high-quality living environment for everyone, including those living in rural and remote areas, such as outermost regions.


The European Forum for Architectural Policies (EFAP), an international network devoted to foster and promote architecture and architectural policies in Europe, allowed for policy exchange among EU countries and published a Survey on Architectural Policies in Europe in 2012.


The Council conclusions on architecture: culture's contribution to sustainable development in December 2008 called for the mainstreaming and awareness-raising of architecture’s contribution to a “high-quality living environment”.


The Council Resolution on architectural quality in urban and rural environments of 12 February 2001 flagged new architecture as 'the heritage of tomorrow'. It encouraged EU countries to promote architectural quality by means of exemplary public building policies, including through the Structural Funds.

Member states experts’ group on architecture

A report published by an EU expert group in 2021, stated that that criteria for quality living space and design should not be only functional, ecological or economic but also fulfil social, cultural and psychological needs as well as a general sense of belonging.

Based on a collection of case studies, the report also lists recommendations to ensure high-quality architecture and built environment.

The report was put together by an Open Method of Coordination (OMC) group of 35 experts from 22 EU countries, Switzerland and Norway. The group was formed under the  Council Work Plan for Culture 2019-2022.

The expert group has also established complementary links with other relevant EU actions such as the Green Deal initiatives related to the built environment, the Urban Agenda Partnership on Culture and Cultural Heritage and the Horizon 2020 project Urban Maestro.

Creative Europe support to architecture

The Creative Europe programme supports architecture through its different actions and prizes:

  • prizes
  • Creative Europe Networks and Creative Europe Platforms
  • European Cooperation Projects
  • sectorial support

EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture

The European Union organises the EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture - Mies van der Rohe Award (EUmies Awards) to recognizing excellence in built works of architecture in Europe (Architecture and Emerging) and final diploma works by recently graduated architects (Young Talent), supported through the Creative Europe programme:

Networks and platforms

The Creative Europe programme supports the following networks and platforms in the architecture sector:

European Cooperation projects

These are the European cooperation projects, that Creative Europe supports between 2021 and 2027, that are worth highlighting:

Sectorial support for architecture

The Creative Europe programme provides sectoral support to architecture and heritage for a quality built environment on top of the actions mentioned above, to address common difficulties the sector encounters.

This support includes capacity-building, promotion of Baukultur, peer learning and audience engagement in order to disseminate high-quality principles in contemporary architecture.

Tagged in:  Creative Europe