A rara avis on the current architecture research.

A rara avis on the current architecture research.
October 28, 2019

We start this book selection based on architecture competitions research and pedagogical practices with a magnificient example: The Competition Grid.

The architectural competition is one of the phenomena that generates the greatest visibility for architectural production both for a specific audience and for the general public. There are numerous and diverse examples that may reside in the mind of any architecture professionals have been carried out through this competitive process. It is also remarkable the number of projects produced under the context of a contest that, winning or not, were never built but that generated a high influence for the rest of the profession and that are taught year after year in architecture schools around the world. Perhaps it would be interesting to study, of the total number of projects that an architecture student 'consumes' each year in digital or print media, what percentage of them are produced under the context of an architectural competition.


Despite the notoriety of the architectural competition in the general architectural culture, despite of the time (and money) invested in them by small and large offices, despite of the importance that it can have at the beginning of a professional career or even of time and passion that students devote to the 'amateur' variants of them to measure strength with other future architects of varied contexts, the competition as a phenomenon is rarely studied or taught in the classroom. Few are the academic studies carried out in the field compared to other fields of knowledge inherent in architecture and these have been carried out for a relatively short period of time. Most of the publications we find today are nothing more than collections of projects; so many of those made on a particular contest, whether international or national, on those contests conducted with a certain program, such as compilations of competitions of a specific authorship. There are very few existing publications of greater technical character that analyze this phenomenon according to its various elements or differential factors.


The book 'The Competition Grid' (2018), edited by Maria Theodorou and Antigoni Katsakou, becomes a mandatory read for those interested in this new field of research. The book is a very elaborate and diverse selection of texts, authors and interviewees that dissect various elements of a historical, experimental, normative and even political / philosophical nature, such as a feminist approach or a fierce criticism of the model on which the contest is based as a whole. There are several professional profiles that have a voice in this book (critics, architects, organizers, politicians, educators, etc.) and that tell us experiences of high value from architectural practice as from scientific research.


In short, a rare avis of great quality and whose usefulness is expected to last for a long time and backed by RIBA Publishing. In the words of D. Vanderburgh, associate professor at the University of Leuven (Belgium), "an important lesson to be learned from this book is that the so-called creative disciplines are not so distant from what we call science."


Nico Rueda