A Theory for Assessing Quality in Architecture Competitions

Magnus Rönn


My paper has three aims. Firstly, I want to clarify the use of architectural
quality as a key concept among architects in the Nordic Countries. Sec-
ondly, I will try to find out and explain how quality issues in performance
are tested and investigated by experts in architectural competitions.
Thirdly, I am going to present and discuss a theory for assessment in ar-
chitecture and urban design based on models showing how critique is
used as a tool by professional jury members in competitions.
The result in this article has a Nordic perspective on the competition cul-
ture and its tradition. Eighteen professionals with firsthand experience
from competitions in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland have been
interviewed. They represent the architects organization, the organizers
and the competitors.
From the interviews, competition briefs and jury statements we get a
good picture of how assessment is understood in practice. In architectur-
al competitions the jury has to find the best proposal among the entries.
The task is to single out one winner. There is a strong relationship in this
case between how professionals use critique in a decision-making proc-
ess, how the jury organizes its work, how the entries are judged in terms
of quality and the outcomea winner that jury members decide has the
best solution to the task set forth in the competition programme. The
jury statement is a written critique made at the end of the assessment.
To improve future quality, the jury evaluates the competition, justifies its
decision and describes any unclear design solution in the winning entry.

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