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Concept House was a missed opportunity

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The Concept House '99 competition (News in Pictures, aj 29.10.98) was organised at exactly the right time. It should have demonstrated that architects were motivated, innovative and able to lead the building industry at least in the development of a new form of terraced house, which as a competitor I thought was the purpose of the competition.

It is a tragedy that a vacuous joke should persuade the assessors to award the prize to Pierre d'Avoine Architects, London. It is difficult for another competitor to criticise the assessors for being so gullible and for ignoring the competition conditions.

A competitor has to decide whether to comply with the conditions and probably not win the competition, or not comply and possibly win the competition. The ultimate result is that seldom anything gets built.

I have a number of speculations:

Perhaps planners would be persuaded that a painting on the screen of the terraced street that they were expecting would be sufficient.

House builders. Some would just laugh and some despair because they are actually looking for new ideas to try and solve the urban dilemma.

Health & Safety Executive. An opportunity to get children and people off the street and on their bikes to cycle across the buildings to work. Is it safe for children? Is it accessible to dogs?

The home owner. If children are going to play up there, is there likely to be a noise problem or a privacy problem? If they are not going to play up there, how are they to be stopped and where are they going to play?

What will cyclists do when they get fed up with taking off their front wheel, bolting it to the back and bolting their cycle to the stand?

The engineer. Certainly the wind loads on the screen provide an interesting structural challenge.

The artistic community. Certainly there is potential for the biggest canvas in the city of London.

What about green architecture, if we rule out the soil-less fashionable grass on the roof? Where do you put your solar panels or photovoltaic cells?

The quantity surveyor. Sorry, cut the screen and the grass roof.

What would the highway engineer think? Mind boggles.

To end on a much happier note, I congratulate the second and joint third winners, who have produced interesting and exciting ideas relevant to the problem.



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