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Rock attacks local council for 'pathetic' competition brief

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riba president David Rock has slammed a local authority competition as 'one of the poorest documents I've ever seen', blaming it on the lack of professional expertise within local government. 'They should scrap the whole thing and start again,' he said of the competition for the creation of a £1.2 million arts and media college on the site of an existing school in Islington, North London. Despite the relatively small value of the project, the documents asked for the practices' prior experience in enormous detail, plus a scheme design, drawing and project- management plan.

Six practices will then be shortlisted and asked to work up their designs in detail, with no honorarium for the losing five. The brief does not make it clear whether the scheme should be new design or refurbishment. 'You can't start from the information provided or even hazard a design,' said Rock. 'It's just pathetic, quite frankly.'

He said the brief 'looks very much like a one-person job. Most local authorities have done away with their professional people, so it is left to people who are untrained, like an educationalist or a facilities manager, to try to draw up a brief.' He said that Islington should appoint an architect to write a brief and then draw up a shortlist of a few firms to be interviewed.

Rock has criticised another local authority competition, organised by Tewkesbury Borough Council with Gloucestershire Housing Association. In the rules for their 'Millennium Houses Competition' they state that the design copyright will belong exclusively to them. In theory this would ions to build housing to the same designs all over the country, with no further payment to the architect. Rock commented, 'It's not good practice to ask for copyright. You would expect the issue of copyright to be negotiated with the architect after the scheme has been chosen. The promoters will lose out in terms of the number and quality of people interested in applying.' All entries are due by 26 September.

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