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Chipperfield: ‘The UK doesn’t know how to run competitions’

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David Chipperfield has hit out at UK-run architecture competitions and urged the RIBA to do more to police them

Chipperfield was speaking about museum design with Kate Goodwin, the head of architecture at the Royal Academy of the Arts during an event in Valcucine’s showroom for London Design Festival on Saturday (19 September).

‘We don’t know how to run competitions over here. RIBA has been weak and pathetic in loosening protection’, said Chipperfield. ‘Competitions should be monitored by the RIBA but they don’t.’

He also hit out at the UK’s market-led culture and its effect on architecture.

‘In England there isn’t a healthy culture of architectural patronage. We are a market-led culture.’

‘Museums are the last refuge of the architect’, he said. ‘Museums are the place where architecture grows better than others.’

‘Architects have been pushed into these protected territories.’

Chipperfield, who won the Stirling Prize in 2007 for the Museum of Modern Literature in Marbach, Germany, described the elements which make a good museum building as ‘space, light and circulation’.

But he questioned the English approach to museums.

‘In England in order to justify culture in the UK we need a measureable result – it is all about visitor numbers – or a regeneration justification. This justification of culture has become a confusion to the architecture itself’, Chipperfield said.

Chipperfield who has worked in Japan, Germany, Switzerland and Austria, compared working abroad to the UK.

‘Doing a museum in Switzerland is a double heaven. The whole process is so much better there. The delivery process is fantastic when you build in a state-run system.’

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