The Welsh Assembly win by Richard Rogers is by all appearances a wonderful design. It does however bring the urge to demand that the Labour Government now nationalise that practice On Behalf of the People. Or they could simply form OffRog, a regulatory body made of the usual suspects.
The problem with limited competitions is that they are limited to the people who enter limited competitions. Moreover, the effect the habitual use of these competitions has is similar to a diet restricted to Marks & Spencers prepared meals. Whatever is chosen is of reasonable quality, but it gradually becomes completely impossible to recall that a) there are many, many other meals in this world that you have access to, and that b) every meal is made up of ingredients that could be combined in an infinity of other ways by another, unknown cook. In and of themselves the repeated use of limited competitions numbs the ability to imagine an alternative.
But what kind of alternative are open competitions? It is an open secret to all but a bemused public that all the average architect does the moment they get on the judging panel of an open competition is to close that competition, fast. They contact their mates and 'ask them if they had thought of applying'. It would be extremely interesting to hear from anyone in the architectural world who could give categorical proof that this is not the case.
There are two ways for the general public to get beyond the predictable 're-heat at gas mark 4 for 30 minutes' results that we are now getting.
1. Make all buildings of a certain size subject to open competition so that there are simply too many opportunities to be sewn up.
2. Make architects advisors only, and kick them off judging panels.