A Case Study: The Jury Process in an Ideas Competition for a Small Urban Centre

Leif Östman


This paper is a single case study report about the jury process in an ideas
competition, including a brief overview of the relevant literature. The
goal of the competition was to find new ideas for the redevelopment
of the county centre of Korsholm on the west coast of Finland. The jury
process ended with a decision to select two winners, despite the clear
interest of the architects association and the Finnish competition rules
expecting only one definitive winner to be selected and thus providing
a planning commission. The aim of the present study has been to ar-
ticulate the jury process, its constitution, interaction processes, turning
points and decision making. Jury processes are always secret, and hence
currently we have hardly any descriptions of them, but they are central
in the process of selecting high-rank solutions for architecture and ur-
ban development, as well as for the promotion of careers and commis-
sions. It is thus important to study and analyze their role within both
the professional and public sphere. The paper confirms Hélène Lipstadts
ideas concerning a need for a rupture from the researchers professional
insider perspective. It provides a sociological perspective on competi-
tions and jury work, implying that architecture research must avoid the
danger of confirming assumptions stemming from a professional ideol-
ogy. The assumption which is confirmed is that jurors are not disinter-
ested and equal participants in a selection process, but stakeholders in a
struggle, defending professional values and the right of their profession
to decide about qualities related to planning

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