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Over a third of RIBA competition-winning schemes are unbuilt

A study carried out by the AJ into RIBA competitions in 2005, 2006 and 2007 has revealed that winning an RIBA contest does not necessarily mean the practice will get to build the work.

Of the 2005 winners, eight projects were completed or are still being built, but three schemes were scrapped and another three are facing an uncertain future.

The AJ’s study uncovered that the main reason for many of the schemes stalling or being dropped is due to lack of funding.

Cottrell + Vermeulen Architecture won the high-profile competition to design a new library in Birmingham, but after planning was refused it lost its funding and was scrapped.

Director Richard Cottrell says: ‘We don’t often win competitions, so to win one and then get so far with the scheme, up to a planning application, and for it to not happen was disappointing.’

Andrew Gilbert, a director at Latitude Architects, which won the chance to design new residential accommodation at Atlantic College in south Wales, which was later dropped, says: ‘The client didn’t have full funding and then there was a change in the set up of the college.’

But RIBA judge Stephen Hodder believes the competitions office has distilled its process into a successful one.

He says: ‘There are always occasions when something doesn’t work out. But there are systems in place to weed out those clients that are less serious than others.’

He adds: ‘The office gets upset when a contest goes wrong. An RIBA competition is always audited and you always get feedback.’

The AJ saw a marked improvement between 2006 and 2007. Seven of the 12 winners in 2006 were put on hold or scrapped, making it proportionally a bad year. However, only eight out of 22 schemes in 2007 are facing difficulties.

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