HomeArchitectural Design Competitions in Europe from the 15th to 21st centuries – an Overview

HomeArchitectural Design Competitions in Europe from the 15th to 21st centuries – an Overview

Architectural Design Competitions in Europe from the 15th to 21st centuries – an Overview

Les concours d’architecture en Europe (XVe-XXIe siècle) : un état des lieux

I concorsi di architettura in Europa (secoli XV-XXI) : un bilancio della situazione

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Published on Wednesday, March 30, 2022 by Céline Guilleux

Summary

While not entirely ignored, the question of architectural design competitions seems to have been largely underestimated by contemporary historiography, although these competitions have marked the history of western architecture since, basically, the famous competition of 1418 in view of the construction of the cupola of the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral in Florence – this is only to mention the modern era.

Announcement

International Symposium - 17th, 18th and 19th November 2022 - Paris, Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine

Argument

While not entirely ignored, the question of architectural design competitions seems to have been largely underestimated by contemporary historiography, although these competitions have marked the history of western architecture since, basically, the famous competition of 1418 in view of the construction of the cupola of the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral in Florence6 – this is only to mention the modern era. Over these last few decades, the history of architectural design competitions has been the subject of several studies, be it the work published in 1988 by Hilde de Haan and Ids Haagsma (Architects in Competition: International Architectural Competitions of the Last 200 Years)7 or Cees de Jong and Erik Mattie’s publication (Concours d’architecture 1792 à nos jours)8 which appeared in 1994. However, we must acknowledge that such ‘chosen’ genealogies of modern contemporary history remain extremely deficient and make the deliberate choice to overlook the questions of prescribed guidelines and tender, the rules of procedure and the organization of the competition while not to mention ignoring questions of communication and publicity, a study of which remains to be undertaken. Therein resides one of the profound and original questions of this symposium project. If the principal milestones of the history of 20th century international competitions are firmly established today, historiography struggles to produce syntheses concerning national competitions with a few rare exceptions, most notably the 19th century which has remained largely unexplored to this day9. The aim of this meeting is to not only take a long-term view of the history of prestigious national and international architectural design competitions from the 15th to the 21st centuries, but also to study the ways these consultations were organized and carried out in order to appreciate what they mean in the contemporary activity of architects by looking specifically at national characteristics, whether they be the national characteristics of the contractors and the design team or regulatory aspects.

In many respects, the competition procedure could be likened to an obstacle course whose difficulties and ambiguities are underlined in the professional press on a regular basis. What requirements should be laid down during the qualifying phase regarding the agencies’ references and revenues? How to define the selection criteria? How to set the financial compensation? How to insure that the jury is independent and impartial? These are questions which continue to arise over time. This symposium will be an opportunity to study in particular competitions rules and conditions as well as the publicizing of these competitions – against the backdrop of political and cultural issues – but even more, it will allow us to weigh this question on the scales of modern and contemporary architecture history. We will consider how these competitions draw another history of public commissions whose specificities are worth recognizing. On this subject, careful attention should be paid to the question of competition sources and archives, considering that, more often than not, only the winning projects are kept

by the public works department. Yet, for historians, the question of the documentation of competitions remains and raises numerous other questions concerning methodology and investigation that must be looked at more closely: the latter remark applies to both earlier times and the contemporary period. This historic phenomenon of an extremely extensive temporality - the oldest sources date back to the 14th century – and commonly adopted in Europe, took an international dimension as early as modern times and imposed itself from the outset through its multidisciplinary character as its study can bring together specialists from fields of study as diverse as: art history and the history of architecture, the history of technology, administrative history and political history, but also the sociology of culture and art-based practices. Such a subject proves to be particularly stimulating for the exploration of links between these disciplines in view of the elaboration of an international-scale research project mobilizing numerous institutional and private actors (universities, architecture schools, orders of architects, architecture museums, ..).

An earlier seminar held from May to June 2021 (Le Concours d’architecture en Europe: histoire et actualité. De la Renaissance jusqu’à nos jours) under the joint initiative of Sabine Frommel (EPHE), Marie-Hélène Contal (Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine), Benjamin Chavardès and Philippe Dufieux (ENSAL) had the ambition of taking stock of our knowledge of architectural design competitions by notably raising questions concerning their history and current events surrounding them. It looked at the scale of competitions and the recurrence of this type of consultation more particularly as they concern commissions by religious entities during the 19th and 20th centuries10. This cycle of meetings opened up an entirely new field of research in France by underlining the determining importance of studying an entire system of actors no matter the period concerned. Yet this last question has been systematically avoided in contemporary studies in favor of an interpretation coming more often than not from the sole viewpoint of architecture critics. One of the ambitions of this year’s colloquium is precisely to take an interest in the organization, consultation and carrying out of these competitions by looking at them as a complex game between public and private actors, administrative personnel and building professionals.

The colloquium will focus on several research topics including the actors and organizational procedures, the different stages of the competition, the constitution of a regulatory body – in a perspective compared to the European scale – as well as the means of communication and publicity. The role of construction companies and trade unions in the development and growing professionalization of these types of consultations should also be taken into account. How are the members of the jury chosen and according to what criteria? How are the rules concerning renderings and financial compensation determined, whether they be in open or closed competitions? What role do contemporary architecture critics and architecture academies play especially in the projects being accepted? What types of constraints are imposed on winners as to the definitive project? Finally, to what measure do foreign architects adapt their projects to the practices and organizational arrangements of the organizing country?

Are certain organizational models transposed to other countries? It also necessary to look at the role that these competitions play in the globalization of typologies and architectural language taking into account digital renderings. Finally, the didactic or pedagogic dimension of competitions could also be the topic of a talk: the same applies to questions of etymology as well as the terminology used in competitions.

As a follow-up to the 2021 seminar, this first symposium, scheduled for the 17th and 18th of November 2022 at the Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine in Paris, is meant to take stock for the first time of the state of research at the French and European scales. It is therefore a matter of identifying keys to understanding that are specific to the French context and cross-border issues.

Submission guidelines

Researchers who wish to propose an original contribution are invited to send their proposals (with a title) and a resumé (approximately 200 words) along with a short biography

before the 30th April

to benjamin.chavardes@lyon.archi.fr The official language of the symposium is French, but proposals and talks will also be accepted in English and Italian.

1/ Andres Lepik, Das Architekturmodell in Italien 1335-1550, Worms, 1994, 249 p.

2/ Hilde de Haan and Ids Haagsma, Architects in Competition: International Architectural Competitions of the Last 200 Years (with essays by Dennis Sharp and Kenneth Frampton), London, New York, Thames and Hudson, 1988, 219 p.

3/ Cees de Jong and Erik Mattie, Concours d’architecture 1792 à nos jours, Cologne, Benedikt Taschen, 1994, 2 vol.

4/ A case in point: Joan Bassin, Architectural Competitions in Nineteenth Century England, UMI Research Press, s. d., 1984, 239 p. Or as concerns Denmark: Kim Dirckinck-Holmfeld, Dansk arkitektur: Konkurrencer 1907-1968, Copenhagen, Bogvaerket, 2016, 252 p. and from the same author, Dansk arkitektur : Konkurrencer 1969-2015, Copenhagen, Bogvaerket , 2020, 261 p

5/ https://www.citedelarchitecture.fr/fr/evenement/le-concours-darchitecture-histoire-actualite-et-potentialite-dune-pratique

Organising committee

  • Benjamin Chavardès (maître de conférences à l’École nationale supérieure d’architecture de Lyon / EVS-LAURe UMR 5600)
  • Marie-Hélène Contal (directrice du département du développement culturel, Cité de l’architecture et du Patrimoine)
  • Philippe Dufieux (professeur à l’École nationale supérieure d’architecture de Lyon / EVS-LAURe UMR 5600)
  • Sabine Frommel (directrice d’études à l’École pratique des hautes études / HISTARA EA 7347)

Scientific committee

  • Emmanuel Château-Dutier (Université de Montréal)
  • Claudia Conforti (Università degli studi di Roma Tor Vergata)
  • Thomas Coomans de Brachène (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven)
  • Emanuela Ferretti (Università degli Studi di Firenze)
  • Hans-Dieter Naegele (Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität Berlin)
  • Winfried Nerdinger (Bayerische Akademie der Schönen Künste à Munich)
  • David Peyceré (Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine)
  • Simon Texier (Université de Picardie Jules-Verne)
  • Simona Valeriani (Victoria and Albert Museum)

Places

  • Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine - 1 place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre
    Paris, France (75)

Event format

Full on-site event


Date(s)

  • Saturday, April 30, 2022

Attached files

Keywords

  • architecture, concours, maquette, projet, architecte

Contact(s)

  • Benjamin Chavardès
    courriel : benjamin [dot] chavardes [at] lyon [dot] archi [dot] fr

Information source

  • Benjamin Chavardès
    courriel : benjamin [dot] chavardes [at] lyon [dot] archi [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Architectural Design Competitions in Europe from the 15th to 21st centuries – an Overview », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, March 30, 2022, https://calenda.org/985579

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