Get the bunting out there’s something to celebrate. The “architectural/ design competition “once restricted to the design of large public schemes in high profile locations by high profile international architects has come to small town UK. I’m not talking about grandiose schemes involving the flooding of Bradford town centre or turning Barnsley into a series of Tuscanesque hill villages but rather the regeneration of 1960’s social housing schemes and the new build developments on land that was once industrial. These are the kind of projects whose destiny used to rest with developers and housebuilders who generally got their own way. Thanks to the likes of CABE, the ODPM and some planning authorities that are feeling newly empowered, we are, hopefully about to see some vastly improved master plans and housing schemes reach fruition.
The judging panels for these competitions usually consist of a cocktail of senior planners, representatives of CABE and the likes of English Partnerships and Regional Development bodies and often a “wild card” As one of these “wild cards” who is sitting on a couple of judging panels and also taking part in these competitions (and winning of course !!!) Don’t worry the teams HemingwayDesign are part of are not entering the ones I am judging. I am pretty close to this revolution and as you would expect from yours truly I have a number of things I would like to say to the judges .
1. Don’t get carried away by “names” on a bid submission unless of course that name is HemingwayDesign, if the name is conspicuous by absence at the interview then ask why, and ask exactly what is the contribution of the “name”.
2 Look for innovation and vision but don’t get carried away by wonderful concepts that haven’t a hope in hells chance of being delivered…investigate how far has the bid gone in really testing its ideas and deliverability there is a real danger that schemes become the butt of jokes if they become undeliverable as in the public competitions like the Liverpool Fourth Grace.
3 Remember that this is not Pop Idol or Big Brother but rather the winning entry is going to impact positively on peoples lives rather than shrink their brain as may happen to reality TV viewers. With this in mind don’t withhold the decision makers from listening to and commenting on the interim ideas and concerns of the teams. I have sat through eight hour judging sessions and been driven to distraction by hour long submissions that are way off the mark, from teams that had had interim meetings turned down, what a waste of resource for all concerned, not least the end user, the public.