Do they continue having the contests of architecture felt? | Stepienybarno

Slate Class, architecture competetions |

We return to encourage to touch one of the most troubled topics: the contests of architecture. But we will not do it from an analytical point of view of the same ones, since already we did it in his day during four articles. Today it has not to enter bases, sworn, possible fixes or period, on it already they have written, excellently, other digital publications as n+1 or CCAD .

So, if it seems to you likely, better we will centre on the consequences of the participation in the same ones and how it affects this fact to the group of architects of a determinant way. If you encourage you can accompany us in this exciting trip.

For every contest of architecture that is summoned they are presenting not less than hundred offers, of which a great part they belong to studies on a large scale average or small. We are going to suppose that by every offer there has been destined an average of one month, with a minimum of three persons, during half a day, being employed at the contest. Let’s remember that the half day of the studies of architecture is not in the habit of being 4 hours, but when less (and there is sure that we remain short) of 5 hours for person. So, 5 x 5 (we are afraid that every Saturday we must count them, but we are going to be generous) they are 25 hours for person and week. So, if we do the account of the month, they go out for us 100 hours for person, therefore, we have a total of 300 hours invested by every office.

If we multiply these hours for each of 100 presented offers, they give us the gewgaw of 30.000 hours dedicated by approximately 300 professionals. At the moment, we forget the indirect expenses (Collegiation, Asemas, Hermandad, rent, light …) that stem from the fact of being an architect. For the topic of reversed material (impressions, planes, panels, sending and other trifles) also we will do the fat sight since it is not a question of loading the inks with smallness. Therefore, we had stayed that were 30.000 hours the reversed ones, which multiplied by a reasonable price, we say of 20 Euros the hour (already you see that we are not throwing the house for the window), we obtain 600.000 Euros invested in every contest of architecture. ¡600.000 Euros! That gives the group of architects to company in order that they could have the best ideas and professionals to carry out the dreamed project whenever someone organizes a contest.

One of the immediate consequences is that, for much that pledges, every study will not be able to do any more than 15/20 contests a year and independently of his quality (to be a good study for anything guarantees that it could gain the contest), 80 % of them will not have gained any contest when they finish twelve months. If to this we add that, with the times that run, it is probable that they do not have another type of income, lamentably they will remain doomed to the imminent closing. That is to say, only twenty of every hundred studies of architecture that devote themselves to compete have possibilities of surviving.

To gain a contest of architecture has never been an easy task and less it it is going to be now. There exist very good studies, which in addition are specialists in the execution and presentation of the same ones. Many architects already have authentic instinct to know what bases they smell to rotted and are machineries perfectly lubricated to come to extract something decent in a little time. In turn, it is necessary to assume that some are given better and to others worse this of competing, without possessing that often a good offer (even well presented) is overlooked by the own incompetence of the juror.

But clear, someone will think “what little these speak of well that they goes to those of them that yes that gain someone of these contests!”. So yes, really. It was not an evil plan, even it does a little time. There were some contests that were clean and, even, they were possessing a good juror, where to the winning offer (of ten or fifteen offers that they were presenting, not more) him a few worthy fees were respected. But a today, the reality has changed radically. As it was commenting it does few Iñaki Alday, in an interview1:

The contests of architecture there suppose setting to work professionals, whose works can go to the bucket of the garbage if one does not turn out to be winning. It is as if you were setting to work five better cooks of Spain in order that they prepare a hake and once presented, you were taking one and were throwing the rest. It should value first other four hakes and take advantage of them because though they are not the best, they are excellent. The ideas are not free. In the advanced countries, the ideas are the most expensive, most valuable thing.


There exists a species of liquidation of the fees of the professional works. I understand that this is the most serious mistake, because one would not ask for price of balance the surgeon who him is going to operate or to the attorney who is going to defend him. Nevertheless, the current conjuncture generates to demand the minimal thing from an architect who implies many responsibility and which work places inside an economic operation of great importance, of which our fees are a very small part.

So, if someone has the immense fortune of winning before these more than 100 offers, he will be with that to do it, beside having a good project that convinces the juror, almost sure that it has had to do a disproportionate descent of them, already of for yes, low fees that the administration offers. To it, we have to add that the period in which the project will be executed, also will have had to be minors of the desirable thing.

Therefore, with similar panorama, what can it make the winner? So at the moment, to be thinking of seeing how with little money it is capable of subcontracting part of the work and to contrive them to deliver in time. In fact, what will touch, almost surely, will be to eat tortilla of potato as the only plate and to pray in order that everything is OK and not to have the bad luck of which you touch construction one that of acceding to the construction of the building has done a descent of 40 % of the budget. If it is like that, with the prayers it will not be sufficient.

This one is the sad reality that we see. To think that someone can survive gaining contests, except honourable exceptions, we see it complicated. Even this way, we remain expectant for knowing if you are felt to continuing competing as the court is.

Stepienybarno_Agnieszka Stepien and Lorenzo Barnó, architects

Estella, july 2011


1 Interviews Iñaki Alday in CincoDías


Stepienybarno está formado por Agnieszka Stepien y Lorenzo Barnó, ambos arquitectos y formados en temas de Identidad Digital y Comunicación online. Desde el 2004 tenemos nuestro propio estudio de arquitectura, ubicado en un pequeño pueblo de Navarra, Estella, y ambos estamos embarcados en nuestras tesis doctorales. A su vez, colaboramos con otros profesionales tanto del ámbito de la arquitectura, sostenibilidad y comunicación online. Vivir en Estella nos da la tranquilidad necesaria para poder encarar el día a día con energía y la red nos posibilita contactar con un mundo maravilloso que de otra forma hubiera sido imposible.

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