Victorian Design Review Panel

Victorian Design Review Panel provides independent, expert advice on significant building projects in Victoria.


The Victorian Design Review Panel (VDRP):

  • advises on architecture, landscape architecture and urban design
  • advocates for high-quality built environments

Design review is a confidential process, except for live planning applications when the advice becomes part of a public record.

VDRP review projects at different stages of development. Design review has most impact early in the design process. The type of projects reviewed include strategies, master plans, buildings, major infrastructure, streets and public spaces.

About VDRP

VDRP panellists are experienced professional specialists in the built environment. The panel includes architects, urban designers, landscape architects and planners. VDRP also includes specialists in sustainability, accessibility, cultural heritage, health, public art engineering and design competitions.

Since 2012 we have:

  • Undertaken more than 300 design review sessions with over 3,000 people attending.
  • Reviewed projects including civic buildings, urban renewal, major transport infrastructure, public housing renewal, hospitals, parks, cultural and sports buildings, commercial buildings, precinct plans and town centre master plans.

About the review process

Design review sessions with VDRP take place monthly. A typical review runs for 1.5 hours.

The steps on our design review process comprises a face-to-face meeting, submission of plans/diagrams and design review session. Advice is formalised in a report within 10 working days.

For some complex ongoing projects a design quality team (DQT) may be convened to provide continuity of panel members.

Benefits of design review

The benefits of design review include:

  • test ideas with experienced, multi-disciplinary experts
  • independent peer review
  • improved design outcomes
  • expedite decisions and broker alternative approaches
  • gives confidence to decision-makers
  • no cost to the project team

Preparation required

We estimate the project team should expect to spend no more than a day to prepare for a VDRP session. The drawings to be reviewed should come from work being produced by the design team as part of their process.


We encourage projects to come to VDRP at an early stage, then at key stages of design development. Design review adds most value when ideas are still fluid and projects return for consecutive reviews. However we can see projects at master plan, concept options, schematic design, through to planning and tender documents or at any stage in between.

Design Review Process

1. Application (4-6+ weeks prior to review)

2. Selection and confirmation (4 weeks prior to review)

  • OVGA prioritises the most urgent projects for each session. If we are unable to offer a formal review within the project timelines OVGA may offer a desktop or other form of review. Prioritisation is based on criteria including project significance, demand and location.
  • Date/s for review are agreed.

3. Briefing (2 weeks prior to review)

  • OVGA meets with applicant and design team/s to understand the project and explain the process of design review.
  • Timing of review agreed.
  • OVGA undertakes site visit.
  • Project team provide further background material as required.

4. Preparing for design review (1 week prior to review)

  • OVGA prepares briefing report for panel.
  • Project teams prepare printed material (max 12 x A3 drawings, single sided) to be delivered to OVGA the day prior to review.
  • An optional PowerPoint presentation can be brought on the day and physical and digital models are encouraged in review.
  • Project team, design team and decision-makers to complete pre-review survey, which identifies what expectations key stakeholders have of review.

5. Review

  • Applicant, design teams and other key decision-makers such as local authorities and statutory agencies attend the 90 minute VDRP session.

6. VDRP Report

  • OVGA provides written report to project team, based on VDRP advice within 10 working days.
  • To assist with the ongoing improvement of design review, the project team, design team and decision-makers complete a post-review survey, sharing their experiences and overall thoughts on the process.

Design Review Format (90 minutes)

  1. Welcome: Chair welcomes and makes introductions (5 minutes).
  2. Presentation: Client provides their vision for the project followed by a presentation by the design team (30 minutes).
  3. Stakeholder comment: Chair offers key decision makers opportunity to make a comment (5 minutes).
  4. Questions: Panel members are able to seek clarification on any points (10 minutes).
  5. Review: Chair invites panel members to provide individual comment on the project (30 minutes).
  6. Summary: Chair summarises comments of the panel and thanks the proponent (5 minutes).
  7. Open discussion: if time permits (5 minutes).

Presentation Tips

  • Clear site analysis and information on the surrounding context is essential to understand and provide feedback on the proposal.
  • A detailed explanation of the design approach, as well as a clear statement about what the design aims to achieve.
  • Sections that include adjacent buildings and landscape beyond the site boundary are useful to convey site conditions and how the proposed design sits within the site.
  • Design drawings in development are encouraged. It is not expected that the design team will need to produce extra work for VDRP. The presentation should consist of drawings that have been produced as part of the design process. It is understood projects come to review at a ‘snapshot in time’ and completely resolved schemes are not expected.
  • The design review panel will be briefed on the site context and background of the project prior to the review, so extensive coverage of this isn’t required within your presentation. Focus the presentation on conveying your design intent and responses.

Desktop review format

This format is particularly suited to projects which come to review at a very early stage, where limited design development has taken place, or at a very late point in the design process, where the potential influence of design review is reduced.

Other features of the desktop review are:

  • The round-table conversational format, in which the design team and panel discuss the design.
  • A shorter, less-formal structure to review, usually lasting an hour, but tailored to the needs of each project.
  • A smaller panel.
  • An informal discussion between the panel and design team.
  • The advice given is structured around key comments of the panel, rather than a detailed analysis of the design.
  • A quick turnaround on advice.

Checklist and guidance for design teams


Images and information

  • Supplied: as advised by OVGA, in the week prior to review.
  • Key project images, as agreed at pre-review meeting.
  • Format: electronic PDF
  • Send via email to OVGA contact
  • Note: Briefing materials are integral to ensuring the design review panel members are familiar with your project prior to the design review day. This allows the panel to maximise the time spent providing feedback on the day. We recognise the project may continue to change up to the last day of review.


Printed images

  • Supplied: by 3pm the day prior to the review to Level 2, Old Treasury Building, 20 Spring Street, Melbourne
  • Format: Up to 12 x A1 sheets, landscape format preferred
  • A3 printed copy of this set (not bound)
  • A3 digital copy (emailed)
  • Print on plain unmounted paper. Glossy prints can be hard to read.
  • If drawing order is important, please indicate preferred layout with your sheets. Keep key drawings off bottom row for ease of viewing during review.

(Optional) Projected images and/or models

  • Supplied: on an unlocked USB stick on the day of review
  • Format: A Powerpoint or PDF presentation
  • Please advise OVGA whether these are required, so that arrangements can be made