Are architecture competitions a good thing?

Architecture competitions held throughout the year attract a large number of entries. Some architects are in favour of them, some against.

Such competitions have a long history, with the first recorded architecture competition was held more than 2,500 years ago. The winning entry was the Acropolis in Athens. The Dome of Florence Cathedral was also designed as a result of a fifteenth century competition.

Types of competitions

Idea competitions are held to generate new architectural ideas. The designs that win may never be built, but these competitions are a great way to explore new concepts.

Open competitions, as the name implies, are open to everyone. Limited competitions are for national or regional competitors, and student competitions are widely held but are for students only.

Most competitions consist of one stage, but more complex projects may have two.

Generally the organiser of the competition defines the rules, but takes into account the guidelines of the International Union of Architects.

Are competitions good or bad for architects?

There are two schools of thought about architecture competitions. Some architects do not like the process. They argue that entries are not paid and cost architect firms a lot of money. Often, winning buildings are not built, and faced with a lot of competing entries, the odds of winning are not high.

Architects in favour of competitions say that they are an encouragement for creativity and promote innovation. There are usually time constraints in submitting a proposal and this stress can be good for creativity. Many predominant buildings have been the result of competitions, including the Vietnam Memorial and the Pompidou Centre in Paris.

Whether you are in favour of architecture competitions or against, they are not going away. Each year there are numerous competitions in all parts of the world, and there is no shortage of entrants.

Posted by Matt Hughes
October 15, 2015

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