Architectural Competitions have a long history, and have produced many extremely successful buildings. They attract great public interest, and have led to the discovery of new talent and new ideas by throwing an architectural project wide open to Competition. To many Clients, the choice of an Architect presents no difficulty, but to many others the choice is not easy. The Client’s desire to see the sketch designs of several Architects before he commissions one is understandable, but to ask an Architect to submit a sketch design is to ask him to do the essential creative work for which he should be properly paid. If more than one or two Architects are commissioned, payment to each would be expensive. This is where an Architectural Competition can benefit both the Client and the Architects who participate. The Architectural Profession, unlike many other professions, allows Architects to compete against each other without charging a fee in an open Architectural Competition held under Council of Architecture Guidelines.
The Architectural Competition is a balance of advantages for both the Client and the Architects.
The Council of Architecture lays down Competition Guidelines, to protect and safeguard the interests of both the Client and the Competitors. These guidelines provide a new up-to-date code that brings the system into line with present-day conditions
The purpose of these Guidelines is to explain the Architectural Competition system. They indicate the principles upon which competitions will be conducted and the rules which must be observed by a promoter for conducting competitions. They also help the Client who is thinking of promoting a Competition, to make up his mind on whether a Competition is the right answer to his architectural problem, and, if so, which kind of Competition would be suitable.
These guidelines have been drawn up in the interest of both the Client and the competitor and to ensure that each competitor competes on similar conditions and that, selection of the design will be on merit alone. Both the Client and the competitor are assured by these guidelines that the entries will be judged only by those who are qualified to interpret the Competitors’ presentations and to judge if the design selected meets with the Client’s requirements.
The conditions of Competitions shall be finalised within the framework of the guidelines prescribed by the Council of Architecture before any announcement is made by the promoter of the Competition. The conditions of the Competitions shall clearly give:
No competition shall be conducted without adequate premium/honoraria and the Competition conditions and the media announcements must state the amounts and number of prizes for the Competition. The promoter undertakes to accept the decisions and the awards of the Board of Assessors and within 3 months of the date thereof to pay the prizes.
Each competitor shall retain Copyright in his own competition design. A Competitor wishing to submit more than one scheme may do so with payment for each additional entry. Each scheme should be submitted separately. Each competitor shall retain the right of reproduction of his own competition design.
Anonymity will be strictly observed at all stages of the competition by the Competitors, by
the Board of Assessors, by the Promoter and by all those concerned with the competition.
The entries in a Competition will be judged by Assessors –only those who are qualified to interpret the Competitors’ presentations and to judge if the design selected meets with the Client’s requirements.
The Board of Assessors shall at all times include Architects who are registered with the Council of Architecture and shall be in a majority of at least one.- Once the Client decides to go in for a Competition, the appointment of the Assessors is the first step. The President of the Council of Architecture, if so requested by the Client, may suggest a panel of names experienced in this type of proposed project, for appointment as Assessors.
For practical reasons, the responsibilities of the Assessors are often taken by the Senior Assessor who is then available to advise the Client on all matters connected with the Competition.The (Senior) Assessors responsibilities are briefly summarized below:
The project brief is the most important document. The success of the Competition will depend upon the clarity and the completeness of the brief. This can be achieved by a very close cooperation between the Client and the Assessors (or the Senior Assessor) in the preparation and finalisation of the brief. As qualified Architects they would be capable of visualizing the development with reference to the Client’s requirements, site conditions etc. and in interpreting the Competition entries in these terms. Once the Client’s requirements, the site conditions, the requirements of the local authorities etc. have been formulated into the competition brief, the Assessors (or the Senior Assessor) can advise the promoter on the type of competition that should be promoted.
This post was about the COA Guidelines for Architectural competitions. To read about the Procedure for promoting an Architectural Competition, go to:
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For more information about the Council of Architecture (CoA) guidelines, go to: