Well managed design contests when compared to eg one of the most common forms of public procurement which is the 2 stage restricted procedure followed by mini-competitions for framework call offs, are cheaper, for both architects and clients. What is not acceptable and I would agree - is Design Contests such as the recent Guggenheim with 1,715 entrants. Architects need to support adoption of the sortition system to address this which reduces needless work and is entirely equitable. More design contests provide more opportunities. Lets embrace the north european model delivering higher quality construction. One reasons design contests have become so tarnished in the UK is that they now comprise less than 1% of the public procurement market, and each one then attracts such enormous numbers. This is a catch 22 which needs to be broken. Everyone otherwise remains subscribing to competitions where selection is preceded by PQQs and is done on the basis of your bank balance, previous experience, ISO compliance, H&S docs., etc. I know what I think is better value and provides greater oppooirtunity. Read the RIBAs publication Building Ladders of Opportunity. Great news from Labour - for build quality, economics in construction and society, a very welcome announcement.
What I find interesting in this debate is the impact this vote might have on the rump UK and on Scotland if the vote (as is likely) is close. Will for example London emerge as a ‘Vienna’ after the collapse of the Austro Hungarian Empire - an eventual flight of capital from a city state overwhelming a declining economic hinterland. With a loss of c.10% of the UK population, 10% of GDP and almost half the land mass, its interesting to reflect on the implication for both England and Europe. My view is this is a debate about the state of the nation – and as much about England as Scotland - as we clearly should be doing more to understand why so many in Scotland feel ostracised from what they regard as an English political system. The nation politically, economically, culturally and socially might consider re-engaging with the notion of re distributive regional economies as clearly this is an issue highlighted by the Scottish vote that has been ignored for too long. Not just Scotland, but the northeast, Wales etc. Would Scotland become an exemplar for eg The Basques & Catalans or Wales and N. Ireland, and the notion of a free market espoused by the EU might in English eyes become reinforced by the need to engage with Scotland and a wider market. Alternatively if we continue as an inward looking London centred nation – maybe a rise in UKIP and a perverted English nationalism. If it’s a Yes vote we can expect that the rump UK won’t be invited to the same tier of intergovernmental conferences and international influence will wane along with our military. Whatever the outcome it is likely the vote will be closer than ever before – which sadly may leave Scotland divided for some time. But this debate, both in Scotland and as its perceived in the context of other regions of the UK will only have become more urgent. As a scot living in the south I don’t have a vote, although I fully recognise the honest held sentiments in Scotland on both sides. Nations do change and opportunity exists within every context, but if we want to remain united it is an issue for us all.
Comment on: Revealed: Peabody names new major projects panel
Peabody should be highly congratulated on such a diverse, interesting and well balanced panel comprising as it does both excellent younger and smaller practices with those who are more established. A welcome turnaround for enlightened patronage/procurement. I am sure the full merit of this panel will be reflected by higher quality outputs. Let us hope this exemplary approach can be extended to other housing suppliers. Walter Menteth