CoA | Architectural Competition Guidelines

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.

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WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF ARCHITECTURAL COMPETITIONS?

The Architectural Competition is a balance of advantages for both the Client and the Architects.

ADVANTAGES FOR ARCHITECTS:

  1. Explore hidden talents: One of the principal aims of the Competition is to explore hidden talents among younger Architects. To many Architects, it is often the first step to a successful career.
  2. Chance to prove their talent and ability: Architects who would not have been considered in the normal way for an important commission, perhaps for a building of national importance have an opportunity to prove their talent and ability.
  3. Opportunity for research: Many Architects regard Competitions as a valuable opportunity for research, perhaps for the study of a new building type, or for exploring the possibilities of new technical ideas and for gaining new experience.

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ADVANTAGES FOR CLIENT

  1. Possibility that an outstanding design will emerge: A competition will cost the Client a little more than if he had commissioned an Architect privately though it will take a little more time. But this must be balanced against the chance to draw upon the talents of all those who respond to the architectural challenge, and the possibility that an outstanding design will emerge.
  2. Client has a choice: Architectural Competitions give the Client a choice from the best viable projects and with a variety of approaches.
  3. Wide range of ideas:  Competition brings out a wide range of ideas and concepts and gives the Client the choice of selecting that which fits into his specific requirements.
  4. Greater public interest: Also, by promoting a Competition, the Client makes a public demonstration that he cares about Architecture, and can take legitimate pride in his determination to find the best Architect and the best design he can get. He will be rewarded with a greater public interest than is generally shown in new buildings.

WHO LAYS DOWN THE ARCHITECTURAL COMPETITION GUIDELINES?

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

WHAT ARE THE PURPOSE OF THE ARCHITECTURAL COMPETITION GUIDELINES?

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.

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WHAT ARE THE ARCHITECTURAL COMPETITION DETAILS?

An invitation for an Architectural Competition.

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:

  1. Type of Competition.
  2. Purpose of the competition and intentions of the promoter.
  3. Nature of the problem to be solved.
  4. All practical and mandatory requirements to be met by the Competitors.
  5. Number, nature, scale and dimensions of the documents, plan and/or models.
  6. Estimates if required in standard form issued with the conditions.
  7. Nature of prizes, Honoraria.
  8. Names of Assessors.
  9. Necessary information required for conducting the competition.
  10. The competition shall be conducted in English.
  11. All competition designs shall be submitted anonymously.
  12. Publicity could begin with the invitation of Architects to participate through widely read media.
  13. This could be followed by press conferences.
  14. Then, the publication of the Assessor’s report and
  15. Finally, public exhibition of all the entries.

PRIZES, HONORARIA:

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.

COPYRIGHT & RIGHT OF REPRODUCTION:

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:

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.

WHO ARE THE ASSESSORS OF AN ARCHITECTURAL 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.

WHAT ARE THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF ASSESSORS IN AN ARCHITECTURAL COMPETITION?

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:

  1. Assist in the preparation and approval of the Project Brief.
  2. Study and understand the requirements of the Local Authorities
  3. Visit and examine the project site, if necessary.
  4. Advise on the appointment of the Technical Advisors, if necessary.
  5. Finalise the competition conditions.
  6. Prepare the final report/award.

PROJECT BRIEF:

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.

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WHEN IS A TECHNICAL ADVISOR CONSULTED IN AN ARCHITECTURAL COMPETITION?

For complicated projects such as Hospitals, Airports etc. which are under constant development or projects encompassing highly technical elements, a Technical Advisor would be considered necessary in the initial stage to help the Client and the Assessors to draw up the brief and subsequently to advise the Assessors on the technical aspect of the Competition entries. The Technical Adviser may be consulted on any aspect of the competition and he may be asked to be present during the judging to give advice on entries when he is invited to do so, but he shall not take part in the judging process.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO COMPETE IN AN ARCHITECTURAL COMPETITION?

Participation in any and all competitions shall be open to:
  1. Architects i.e those who are registered with the Council of Architecture under the Architects Act, 1972 on the date of announcement of the competition and thereafter.
  2. Firms in which all the partners shall be registered with the Council of Architecture under the Architects Act, 1972 on the date of announcement of the competition and thereafter.
  3. Students of a Teaching Institution, the qualifying examination of which is recognised by the Council of Architecture provided that no member of the staff of the said institution is the sole Assessor or in a jury of three or more Assessors, only one Assessor is from the staff of the said Institution.
  4. Neither the Promoter of the competition, Assessor/s engaged for the Competition nor any of their associate, partner or employee shall compete, assist a competitor or act as an Architect or joint Architect for the competition project.
  5. Proof of qualification: Competitor may be requested to submit a proof of qualification, copy of his valid Registration certificate issued by the Council of Architecture, and in case of a student, a certificate from the head of his Institution.

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:

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