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Will Alsop might like to ponder this experience

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Will Alsop's article on the competition process is wise. The subtext, of course, is that practices such as Will Alsop and Zaha Hadid should get all the work, which is arguable.

We had an interesting experience upon which Alsop might wish to ponder. In 1995, we won a competition to carry out a feasibility study for a new cultural centre in Sandwell. As with many similar projects, we were asked to develop the scheme far beyond the original commission, to nurture the ideas, to prepare concepts, to design and cost real buildings, to obtain planning permission, to manage the Lottery funding programme.

With Lottery funding finally in place, we had reasonable expectations of taking the project forward, but the 'consultants' had other ideas. The project was advertised in the EU's Official Journal.

We refused to participate in a process that was clearly aimed at levering in a 'safe' name and would have cost even more money than we had invested to date.

The project was C/Plex, the architect was Will Alsop. I don't remember him complaining about the process at the time.

Charles Thomson, Rivington Street Studio

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