The National Trust has performed a U-turn and agreed to give feedback to architects who took part unsuccesfully in its controversial competition for a new visitor centre at Hadrian’s Wall.
The contest for the £4 million building at the Housesteads Roman Fort in Northumberland — which is also being developed by English Heritage — was heavily criticised by the profession after a shortlist of six was finalised in just six hours and the Trust refused to give details of its marking.
National Trust project manager Dennis Wright has now confirmed that unsuccessful bidders — which include Richard Murphy, Stanton Williams, van Heyningen & Haward, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Malcolm Fraser, Stephen Hodder and Sutherland Hussey — will receive a letter if they request feedback.
This is despite regional director David Ronn last week insisting that it was not appropriate for the Trust to do this because of its limited resources as a charity.
“If we are asked for feedback, we will give it,” Wright said. “We’ve had quite a few requests, so we have decided to do this.”
Wright refused to name the shortlist of six architects, but BD understands it includes Gareth Hoskins and Edward Cullinan Architects.
Stephen Hodder, who lobbied the Trust to give details of its judging, welcomed its turnaround.
“I look forward to receiving this,” he said. “You can only improve with feedback — and if you’re spending time and money on a submission, it’s only courteous to give it.
“If the Trust did assess more than 60 submissions in this timescale, it will be interesting to see what quality the feedback is.”
Hodder also called on the Trust to involve the RIBA’s competitions office or the Landscape Institute in its competitions as a matter of course.
“They have a robust system and do not charge a lot for their services,” he said.
Clare Wright of Wright & Wright Architects said it had entered the competition but has still not been told whether or not it was successful in being shortlisted.
“We did not hear one way or the other,” she said. “According to the Post Office our submission did arrive… we’d just like to hear from them.”