Global design competitions: shaping a sustainable future /construire un avenir durable

Networks for the future If architecture is a culture of ideas then the way for those ideas to becomeviral is through infection by contact. Because architecture has a tendency to look inwards into its own culture, the kind of networking architects often indulge in so often appears to be curiously within its own boundaries. I was always a little puzzled by this craving for peer recognition but it does make a kind of sense. If architecture is a culture of ideas then the way for those ideas to become viral is through infection by contact. That might not be the most appealing metaphor but from schools to international offices, the profession benefits from being both truly global yet rooted to a particular place and set of conditions. The solutions found to one problem on one site will never be exactly replicated - even by a neighbouring site, yet inspiration and encouragement come from contact with those who are working in similar conditions and achieving often wonderful things. Although it seems an obvious thing to remark upon, architects don’t usually commission other architects. Yet the advantages to networking are clearly there. Architects appear on juries and awards committees, they sit on editorial panels, write and edit books and they are able to invite foreign architects to teach at their institutions. They work, and collaborate internationally. And the kind of prestige and recognition a competition can confer within the future of architecture also, critically, gives credibility outside the profession. Importantly, they are also able to admire plans and small projects which might bypass clients or people outside the profession. They are more able to recognise potential in humble beginnings. Once a practice is recognised within its own world, it is far more likely to attract attention from the media, from potential clients or sponsors and from like-minded souls elsewhere. It might seem counterintuitive but architects’ serving to gain recognition within the culture of architecture – far more vigorously often than they attempt to beyond it – can be critical to their success. Of course the competition brings attention from beyond that narrow world as well. The opportunity to travel (often for young, cash- strapped practices), to meet jury members and sponsors is in itself a huge boost to confidence and an exponential expansion of networks. From peer to peer By Edwin Heathcote 40