Architecture competitions must increase, says Brady
RIBA president wants “hundreds”
Britain should be holding hundreds of architectural competitions every year, just like other countries in Europe, the president of the RIBA has said.
Angela Brady said competitions were fairer for architects and better value for clients – but the challenge was convincing risk-averse customers to ditch the tick-box approach.
Nearly two-thirds of UK practices are simply ignoring the PQQ system because it is so expensive and the chances of success “negligible” for small firms, according to new RIBA research.
Brady told a discussion at the Ecobuild trade show this week that Britain needed to emulate other parts of Europe where almost every building is procured through competition.
Walter Menteth, who is leading the institute’s procurement taskforce, described last year’s 21 RIBA competitions as “staggeringly paltry”.
He said the cost of procurement in this country was more than twice as high as on the continent, making Britain the “sick man of Europe”.
Another problem was the trend towards aggregating contracts into huge bundles, he added.
“The EU has a very different procurement culture and we have much to learn,” he said. “We are in an aberrant position so we are seeking to ensure more diverse procedures are used [in the UK] and looking to see if that could be done through localism.
“Competitions are raising the standard and quality of construction. They are delivering sustainability. They are not delivering buildings that are falling apart after two years.”
Hilary Satchwell, director of Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design, said the PQQ system was a “huge waste of human capital on both the client and practitioner side” and called for better advice for inexperienced clients.
But David Ubaka, former assistant director at Design for London, said clients were put off because many competitions ended with nothing being built.