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Venetian blindness

The Australia Council has just released its request for expressions of interest for the design of the new Australian pavilion in Venice’s Giardini. After much effort by Openhaus, 750 people petitioned the Council to ditch their original limited competition in favour of an open anonymous competition. The Council appeared to relent and adopted a two stage open competition model. This caused further fuss as the first stage, an EOI, was ‘open’ only if you happened to have had experience designing similar buildings overseas. Glenn Murcutt protested that even he would be ineligible.

Reading the final document ( PDF ), the Council appears to have softened its stance slightly, as there is no mandatory requirement that the competition entrant has designed an art space and worked overseas. Still, without these the entrant is unlikely to score the points required to make the cull. So they’ll get what they want – an established firm with a broad enough track record to tick all the boxes. For the rest of us, it will be a waste of time entering.

The evaluation criteria:
a) capability to undertake the project
b) any previous experience with similar projects, i.e. cultural buildings
c) suitability
d) resources, including demonstrated experience, qualifications and skill of key personnel
e) financial capacity
f) evidence of quality assurance
g) compliance with the EOI

Further on in the conditions, they add that the entrant, “must have relevant prior experience in provision of the type of services described in this EOI.”

As with other two stage competitions, design is excluded from Stage 1. It’s less about design and more about finding an office capable of performing its duties.

As already stated by the likes of Don Bates, Glenn Murcutt, and Elizabeth Farrelly, this is a relatively tiny art space that any competent architect ought to be able to handle. An open competition will weed out the excellent proposals from the merely competent. If the winning architect is working out of her bedroom, she can form an association with another firm, the way we used to be able to do.

For most buildings, this type of REOI would result in a collectively-depressed shrug of the shoulders. But for the building representing Australia at the Architecture Biennale, Australia deserves the best from its architects. We need a brilliant result dredged from hundreds of entries.

This should be an open and anonymous competition. If that means ditching the private with-strings funding, so be it. If that means there can be no new building, so be it.

Not that it makes any difference, but I am boycotting it. I won’t enter, and it will not get a listing on this website. Huff.

Posted by Peter on 01.09.11 in 

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Had you pegged more as Work-to-Rule type.

by info on 3 September 11 ·#

Textile help first then

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