Manser Medal-winner Cezary Bednarski has panned RIBA’s Salford Bridge competition as an ‘example of how not’ to run a contest
The high-profile designer – who has entered 20 bridge contests, won 10 but only seen three winners built – warned the project was ‘unlikely to attract serious bridge designers’ because it failed to live up to new international standards.
His criticism was based on the new Guidelines for Design Competitions for Bridges, agreed last month by the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineers.
Commenting with reference to the guidelines, he said: ‘The just-announced Salford bridge competition is yet another example of how not to do it.
‘There is no respected bridge engineer on the jury [and there] There is no commitment to build anything, nor to employ the winner. The “prize” is derisory and paid only to the shortlisted teams and nothing to the winner.’
Bednarski also hit out at the £50 entry fee and said the brief requirement for two A1 boards was ‘overkill’, noting Transport for London only required a single A2 sheet for its Thames Crossing ideas.
He said: ‘It all looks like a waste of effort and money and is unlikely to attract serious bridge designers – a loss to the client.’
The two-stage open design competition was announced just days after the RIBA launched a review of its in-house competition’s service in a bid to stamp out exploitation of architects across the industry.
The client, Salford City Council, has committed to pay honoraria worth £4,000 + VAT to the shortlisted teams.
But, according to terms set out in the brief, the winner’s prize would be an ‘advance on their professional fee post competition’ and the competition-backer ‘reserves the right not to proceed beyond the competition stage in the event that the requirements and aspirations set for this competition are not met.’
Submissions must include a maximum of two A1 sheets and a 500-word written design statement. The judging panel includes Salford City Mayor Ian Stewart, McDowell+Benedetti partner Renato Benedetti and representatives from Salford City Council, the University of Salford, English Cities Fund, Countryside Properties and Urban Vision.
The closing date for submissions to the Salford Bridge contest is 5 September.