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Belfast contest debacle unfolds

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Architects have been left in the dark over delays to a high-profile international competition being held in Belfast

The RIBA-run Andersonstown Expo Centre contest, which was to be judged by Daniel Libeskind, has been postponed following a complaint about the judging of first-round entries to the competition. Although the practice declined to comment, the complaint is understood to have been made by Belfast-based Todd Architects, which failed to reach the shortlist.

The contest was scheduled to reach design ideas stage this month, with £6,000 honorariums paid in full. But it is on hold pending investigation of the complaint and practices on the shortlist have been asked to wait.

The shortlist comprises teams including Grafton Architects, Hackett Hall McKnight, North Seven, Carmody Groarke and Norway’s Neils Torp. A source at one of the finalists said they were disappointed at the ‘minimal’ explanation offered for the ongoing delay in the £12 million project to redevelop a former police station.

Contest organisers RIBA Competitions and Northern Ireland’s Department for Social Development (DSD) have so far refused to disclose judging details.

The AJ understands that the alleged challenge from Todd Architects relates to how the issue of sustainability was dealt with by the judges who, according to one insider, had found it ‘almost impossible’ to evaluate the entrants’ sustainability credentials in the first round.

The brief gave a 15 per cent weighting to sustainability and asked entrants to give evidence of a track record in reducing carbon emissions, minimising energy consumption, using sustainably sourced materials and sustaining local supply chains.

A DSD spokesperson said: ‘We can confirm the design competition for the regeneration of the site of the Andersonstown Police Station is currently on hold and that all applicants have been advised accordingly. We are not in a position to comment any further at this stage.’

A spokesperson for Daniel Libeskind said: ‘We obviously hope this gets resolved and things can move forward.’

Todd Architects refused to comment.

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