Architectural Competitions - Empirical Observations and Strategic Implications for Architectural Firms

Kristian Kreiner


This paper explores architectural competitions as processes of participation and choice. The participation of architectural teams involves a choice of reading the competition brief for instructions, indications or inspirations. The participation of the competition jury involves a choice of reading design proposals positively or negatively. Both sets of choice rely more on judgment than on calculation. An integral part of making these choices is the definition and selection of criteria on which choice can be made.
For architectural teams winning a competition is a chance event, because the judgments they must make in preparing the entry may all equally well become the cause of success and the cause of failure. The subsequent choice of the jury will determine the soundness of the judgments. If winning is a chance event there is little room for strategic thinking. On the other hand, such awareness creates the freedom for architectural teams to choose between reading competition briefs for instructions, indications or inspirations for other reasons than winning competitions. By analyzing the results of a simulation of repeated competitions between different strategies it is found that the value of wins that
are won by chance may systematically be related to competition strategies.

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