London-based offices Design Engine and Nissen Adams were jointly award first prize in a competition for a new theatre in Gdansk only to be told that their projects were extremely unlikely to be built.
Instead the jury chose to offer a special prize to Italian Renato Rizzi even though he was originally thrown off the shortlist for designing a proposal that failed to meet the competition's brief. He is now in negotiations with the client to build his scheme.
Design Engine's Tim Bradley said that the practice was very disappointed that its victorious project was unlikely to be built.
'The jury had seemingly agreed at the two winners and it seemed likely that it should be between us to negotiate with the client over which scheme should eventually be built,' he said.
'It then seems that the jury had another look at the projects and decided that they were actually uncomfortable with them both.
'It is fair to say that we were disappointed by the outcome,' Bradley added, 'and we are still thinking about what to do about this situation.'
But Ben Bolgar, a design director at the Prince's Foundation and a competition jury member, said that although the decision was irregular, there was little option.
'When we were looking at the projects, there was one that everyone was looking at. However it soon became apparent that the architects had deliberately gone over the site laid out in the competition brief so we disqualified them.
'We then awarded joint first prize to the two British practices. But we were still sure that we wanted the Rizzi scheme to be built so we got on the phone to the lawyers and discovered that we were allowed to give the special prize to his design,' Bolgar added.