ERA21 #02/2020 Architects in the Competition II

kniha editorial

Competing in Architecture

Tomáš Zdvihal

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A Wounded Place. Jan Palach Memorial in Všetaty »

Miroslav Cikán, Pavla Melková / MCA atelier

There is a small house in the village of Všetaty, Central Bohemia, which Jan Palach left one January morning in 1969 and never came back. Last year, the house was opened to the public as part of a memorial to commemorate the legacy of Palach’s sacrifice. The memorial consists of the transformed house, penetrated from one side by a sharp steel prism which holds the entrance, a meditative back garden with a bench and a group of trees, and a separate single-story building housing a museum. The scheme is the winner of the architectural & art competition organized by the National Museum in 2015–2016.

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Years of Our Contests »

All completed projects, for every given year, realized through architectural competitions, are shown on a timeline. Even though the list doesn’t include a large portion of schemes that were never realized (for various reasons), it is still representative of the diversity of typologies and the wide-range of buildings that can be commissioned through design contests. Besides, photographs of the well-known and famous projects prove that competitions usually lead to desired quality. The small icons also illustrate, surprisingly well, the technological and aesthetic developments that architecture has gone through in the last thirty years. 

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30 Years of Competitions in the CR »

Tomáš Zdvihal

A total of 632 architectural competitions approved by the Czech Chamber of Architects were issued between 1993 and 2019. Seven years ago, ERA21 made an analysis based on available data from 1993–2012. We now present an updated and more detailed analysis based on the database kept by CBArchitektura since 2014. The data come from publicly accessible sources such as the Public Procurements Bulletin and the Contracts Register, and from communications with individual actors. Historical data come from professional periodicals and from the archive of the CCA competitions committee. A comparison of these analyses shows that the number of competitions has grown in recent years. Despite this fact, competitions are still scarce – only approximately 2 % of buildings in the CR are commissioned through competitions.

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The Public Sector and Small-Scale Commissions »

Miroslav Vodák

The architecture of public buildings and public procurement of architectural and engineering projects are important issues. Sadly, public clients remain largely ignorant about them. They rarely distinguish between tendering for the delivery of consumer material and a complex service. And yet, the architect’s selection procedure and their fee play a crucial role in the final quality of the project and, later, the building. Design contests should be the standard for large procurements where the cost reaches hundreds of millions of CZK. This recommendation is part of the Architecture and Building Culture Policy in the CR, approved by the government. Other procedures, at least resembling design contests, can be utilized for small-scale procurements outside the Public Procurements Act.

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completed project

Brick in the Wall. Prague 7 Town Hall »

Vojtěch Sosna, Jakub Straka, Jáchym Svoboda / Bod architekti

The brand new town hall of Prague 7 is the coveted prize at the end of a very long race. It started eight years ago with the ruling of the Supreme Administrative Court, which decided to hold a local referendum about the criteria for selecting new premises for the Prague 7 municipal authority. Finally, to convert it into a town hall, an unused office building was stripped all the way down to its load-bearing structure and filled with a new program. The scheme won the architectural competition in 2016.

completed project

Peas in a Pod. Sports Hall in Modřice »

Vojtěch Sosna, Jakub Straka, Jáchym Svoboda / Bod architekti

The existing Sokol building from the early 1900s became a key element when designing the new sports hall in Modřice, South Moravia. Its volume, including the typical shape of a gabled roof, was repeated first in the street front, and then multiplied three times in the back, where it articulates the form of the main gym. Thanks to this, the new building fits well with the surrounding small-scale development, even though it houses a 45×25 m sports hall, a fitness gym, dance studio, swimming pool, and other facilities. The scheme won the open architectural competition in 2015.

completed project

Neo-Roundel. New Building for Líbeznice Elementary School »

David Grulich / Grulich architekti

The new building of the Líbeznice elementary and art school only took a record-breaking 22 months from the competition results announcement to building completion. The school stands on the edge of the village development, adjacent to the municipality’s planned green belt. The building wraps the school premises in an enclosed circular form that follows the existing concept of rounded geometry, present in the older elementary school from 2015 (called Roundel), the children’s traffic playground, the wooden stage and the park maze. The setting of the new building enabled exterior links between all three school buildings. The horizontal mass is incorporated into a terrain undulation and forms a pedestal for the historical school building that remains the dominant feature of the site. Thanks to the vegetation on the green roof the landscape will continue smoothly over the building.

completed project

Red Glow. Fire Station and Municipal Services Facility in Líbeznice »

Tomáš Koumar, Lukáš Ehl / Ehl & Koumar architekti, Jaroslav Malina, Jan Lankaš

The old village center of Líbeznice is full of typical farm houses with enclosed yards, shaded from the main road. At the corner of Družstevní and Mělnická, the village hall and the public services building form the cornerstone of the entire municipal area. An intimate inner square was formed behind the public services building, surrounded by a fire station and a municipal services facility, both painted bright red. Their unified appearance and form refer to the traditional structures of village barns and farmhouses, the red facade color emphasizes their importance and community function. A tree avenue was planted in the new square together with statues of “tree guardians” by sculptor Ivana Šrámková.

completed project

Meeting in Raumplan. Leisure Center H55 in Prague-Hloubětín »

Petr Synovec

The community center H55 is situated on the site of a former school in the historical center of Hloubětín. Its immediate neighbors are the local landmark of the St. George church, a castle park, and the existing residential development. The building is on a slope and it respects the existing building line. The main entrance is from Hloubětínská street. An assembly area and a tree avenue along the street were formed in front of the entrance. A café terrace is nestled between the building and the church wall, adjoined by the garden from the west. The garden is accessible from the center from two different levels. The volume and shape of the three-story building, with the distinctive gabled roof and dormers, fits well within the village character of the surrounding development. The transparent facades of the ground floor emphasize the public function of the leisure center. The scheme won third place in the architectural competition organized by CCEA MOBA.

completed project

A New Coat. Community and Cultural Center in Kuřim »

Milan Rak, Alena Režná / ARCHTEAM

Last September saw the official opening of the new Community and Cultural Center in Kuřim. The opening comes a mere ten years after the architectural competition and two years after reconstruction began on the 1960s style culture-house. The original layout of the load-bearing structure and massing were mostly kept, except for the main section, which was raised by one floor to accentuate the square area and give it a dignified landmark. The new layout and program are also arranged based on the original; in the front, there is an entrance hall and a triple height lobby to access the public part of the program. The middle section houses the auditoriums, the back section the nursery and backstage rooms.


Competitions in Europe II »

The survey loosely follows the “Competitions in Europe” research by Michal Fišer, published in ERA21 #02/2013. Our goal was to present other European countries’ experiences with architectural competitions. We approached representatives both from countries where competitions are seen as a proven and democratic way of selecting an architect, and from countries that 30 years ago were
in the same place as the Czech Republic. In the discussion on the quality of the competition procedure we focus primarily on who issues and organizes competitions and also explore the roles of the state and professional organizations involved. Another key topic was limited competitions; the selection of participants, ensuring transparency, and a fair approach to young architects. The results are in no way a substitute for thorough scientific analysis; but they could fuel deeper discussions on the quality and efficiency of the competition process.

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Universities as Public Clients »

Filip Landa

Universities are the typical public sector client engaging with societally significant building activity. Seven years ago, we surveyed representatives of selected universities, asking about their view on architectural competitions. The answers were mostly negative, citing the financially demanding and time-consuming downsides, and alleging that the CCA competition code contradicted public procurement law. Academic institutions generally did not issue any competitions. The situation has changed partially as some universities have tried design contests in recent years, while most still remain hesitant to see competitions as a useful tool.

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