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ICC 2016 The Competition Mesh: Experimenting with and within Architecture Competitions

The Sixth International Conference on Competitions focuses on scrutinising and mapping the concept of experimentation within architecture competitions.

The purpose of ICC 2016 is to offer a window into current interdisciplinary research on the topic of architecture competitions. The conference is part of a series that looks at competitions as a specific field of knowledge in order to understand the competitions’ discourse and questioning historical and current aspects, presuppositions, concepts and practices.

In recent years we have and continue to witness, a surge of competitions (or rather calls) which do not seek to produce a building or an architecture structure, but aim instead to raise awareness and pinpoint current social, political, technological issues intertwined with the urban condition; these are usually initiated by independent entities and aim to entice experimentation by reformulating and resetting the very terms and conditions within which a problem is posed or arises. 

The aim of the conference is to cover all aspects of experimentation within architectural and design competitions. By opening up this call to for papers to independent actors and various entities, as well as to professionals and scholars the organisers aim to merge both a practice-oriented and theoretical approach to the subject of competitions. During the conference all voices can be heard and debate.

The conference also includes a professional organisations’ panel discussion, where in this session, RIBA and UIA speakers will consider the concept of experimentation as manifested within the RIBA UK client-driven and ‘pragmatist’ competitions approach and within the UIA ‘social’ and conceptual framework applied to the UIA worldwide competitions. The event is supported by RIBA Competitions and the UIA.

For any queries contact the conference organising committee at

Conference Fees:

  • Full conference early booking (until 30 June 2016) - £160.
  • Full conference - £220.
  • Students/ PhD candidates full conference early booking (until 30 June 2016) - £90.
  • Students/ PhD candidates full conference - £150.

The conference fee covers the two days attendance including the film screening on Thursday 27 October and dinner on Friday 28 October at Leeds Beckett University. Travel and accommodation in Leeds and to London are not included; arrangements must be made individually by the participants.

Call for abstracts

The Sixth International Conference on Competitions (ICC2016_UK) focuses on scrutinising and mapping the concept of experimentation within architecture competitions; It asks for papers that address (and probably extend the list of) the following categories and aspects of experimentation:

Referring to competition types (public, private, open, by invitation, etc.). What are the similarities and differences between public and privately-driven and independent organisations/entities competition procedures in terms of organisational frameworks, briefs, aims, publicity, target groups of participants and the public, records of undertaken procedures, and most importantly, how may they promote experimentation? What are the emerging frameworks that may be detected?
Referring to the impact of competition procedures in terms of the resulting buildings and structures. What kind of design problems are competitions concerned with and how do they specify and alter social aspects and context? In other words, how do competition-generated buildings/structures take up and/or experiment by altering the features of an existing context? Do they reinforce, re-shape or create new material-human-technical-technological assemblages? Are human attachments and relations in the form of communities, interested groups and other complex conglomerations, taken into account in competition briefs and resulting buildings and structures? Is there any intention to redesign matters of concern? Also, how do competitions promote and/or modify the status of the architectural profession and the role of the architect within current and past organisational structures of society?
Referring to the representational ‘idioms’ used by architects and designers in contemporary design. How have these changed in relation to previous periods (as manifested in the framework of competitions), for what reasons and in what way are they currently being altered? How do competitions enhance, promote or follow changing trends in design representation and/or challenge the architectural representation of concepts or even produce representation-related concepts?

Referring to political structures (politics) and policies intertwined with competitions and competition-involved actors; how these have shaped decision-making structures corresponding to local and international architectural and urban design precedents? How historical, financial, ethical and political aspects have produced diverse competition traditions in the past and how have they changed during the course of the last decades. If the ‘political’ is understood on the other hand, in the context of current political theory as the ‘moment’ of change, how competitions have approached, questioned or enticed changing conditions in the past and are there any current trends in putting forward briefs, organisational structures, diversified actors, etc., that promote experimentation in order to re-orient the present?      

Key Dates

December 2015: Call for Papers.

3 May 2016: Deadline for the submission of paper abstracts.

13 June 2016: Notification of acceptance.
4 September 2016: Deadline for the submission of full papers for circulation and comments.
27 - 28 October 2016: Conference at Leeds Beckett University.

29 October 2016: Visit to London.

After final submission the papers will be regrouped in sessions and sent for review to two other participants of each session. During the conference, session participants will act as discussants of the papers they reviewed, following the author’s presentation.

Organising Committee 

Antigoni Katsakou, Leeds School of Architecture at Leeds Beckett University

Scientific Committee

The conference Scientific Committee includes the following members of the international network of researchers on competitions:

Jonas Andersson, Swedish Agency for Participation 
Jean-Pierre Chupin, Université de Montréal 

Magnus Rönn, KTH Stockholm
Torsten Schmiedeknecht, University of Liverpool
Maria Theodorou, Leeds School of Architecture at Leeds Beckett University 
David Vanderburgh, Université Catholique de Louvain
Leentje Volker, Delft University of Technology

Keynote Speakers 

Eva Franch i Gilabert, Storefront for Art and Architecture, United States of America
Kristian Kreiner, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
Aymone Nicolas, Ecoterre, France
Jeremy Till, University of the Arts London, United Kingdom  

Preliminary Programme

Thursday 27 October 2016




Sessions at Leeds Beckett University

Film Screening: The Competition

Friday 28 October 2016




Sessions at Leeds Beckett University

Conference Dinner

Saturday 29 October 2016



London Walk: An Ever Changing Metropolis

Submission of abstracts (deadline has passed)

Please address all enquiries to the organising committee via email at Conference Updates will be uploaded on this webpage in due course.


All conference abstracts will be published online and will be made available at the conference. Further publication options for all conference papers, such as hard copy conference proceedings, special issues in journals will be considered.

A number of conference papers (three - four) will be published in a RIBA publication/collection of essays under the same title as the conference. This is subject to a proposal which has been submitted to RIBA. The publication is scheduled to be launched in 2017.

Register now

Event Details

27 October 2016 -
29 October 2016
Leeds, London
Register now