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Intended, but Not Realized

Architectural Competitions Do Not Always Lead to the Best Result

Idea competitions for architecture are a nice thing. That’s because in the end you always get the best result, you might think. But what can be the problem in an architecture competition?

Renowned architecture firms are usually invited to a competition to submit their ideas. But it happens again and again that the design that most appealed to the client right from the start wins. On closer inspection, what looks like a coincidence to outsiders has a system.

The jury of experts is regularly influenced or even nominated by the builder so that many of the people involved support him. The jury often consists of people with whom the client has worked for many years – the same “experts” are always presented. The members of the jury can also be influenced by the client before or during the competition. Even if a design is submitted anonymously, the experts usually recognize each office by its respective “handwriting”: Usually an architectural firm follows a specific design line, choice of materials and design language.

The client often has other options. In this way, a certain jury member, but also a participating architectural firm, can actually be given confidential information that others have not received. Such information can also be indications of what exactly the client expects from the design, which designs are unpleasant or which features from the client’s point of view are better not to be implemented.

Openness to Results Must Be Encouraged

Acting politicians and civil servants have been used repeatedly involved in juries over the past decades, and have been instrumentalized in this way by the client.

In order for such competitions to be carried out more honestly and with more open results in the future, an independent process would be required, which can be influenced less by the client than before. Above all, there should be open and multi-level competitions so that the best architecture prevails, and not just a handful of predetermined architects can submit ideas. Because with open-ended results, the quality of the architecture can ultimately be increased.

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