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Prestigious international architecture conference comes to Leeds


The sixth International Conference on Competitions (ICC), examining experimentation within architecture competitions, is set to take place at Leeds Beckett University in October.

The Rose Bowl

Architecture competitions are open calls to compete for the best design or idea in response to a brief presented by a client. This can be managed through an established organisation, such as the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). An example of buildings that have originated through the competitions process include the Royal Armouries, Wembley Stadium, and the Millennium Bridge in the UK; and, internationally, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Sydney Opera House.

Dr Maria Theodorou, Senior Lecturer in Architecture at Leeds Beckett University and co-organiser of the event, explained: “The purpose of ICC 2016 is to offer a window into current interdisciplinary research on the topic of architecture competitions. In recent years we have, alongside the standard process of architecture competitions used for the procurement of buildings, seen, and continue to see, a surge of competitions 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 in our cities. These aim to entice experimentation by reformulating and resetting the very terms and conditions within which a problem is posed or arises. Moreover, concerns over competitions exploiting the unpaid work of the contestants have also been voiced.”

The ICC 2016 conference will take place from 27-29 October at Leeds Beckett University’s city centre Rose Bowl building, followed by a visit to London. It includes a professional organisations’ roundtable discussion supported by RIBA Competitions: including Jerzy Grochulski, Co-Director of the UNESCO- International Union of Architects (UIA) Regulations for International Competitions; and RIBA representatives, Cindy Walters, Director of Walters and Cohen Architects, Roger Hawkins, Partner at Hawkins\Brown, and Bill Taylor, Partner at Robin Snell and Partners.

Dr Lisa Stansbie, Dean of the Leeds School of Art Architecture and Design, said: “This is the first time that the ICC has been held in the UK. We are delighted to welcome the international network of researchers who will discuss the complexity of architecture and design competitions in which designers, architects and students regularly take part.”

Co-organiser Dr Antigoni Katsakou, Part-time Lecturer in Architecture, added: “The specific focus of this year’s conference is to frame the various aspects of competitions within the concept of experimentation. The history of competitions, their organisational, legal, political, social and conceptual framework, the role of clients and professional organisations, as well as voiced concerns about competitions, are all aspects which will be put under scrutiny by researchers and practitioners.”

‘The Competition’ film, which offers a glimpse of the competitions backstage, will be screened at the conference followed by a question and answer session with the film’s director, Angel Borrego Cubero. Keynote speakers at the event will be: Anymone Nicolas, Partner at Ecoterre, France; Kristian Kreiner, Professor Emeritus at Copenhagen Business School; Eva Franch, Director of the Storefront Gallery in New York; and Jeremy Till, Head of Central Saint Martins, London, and Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of the Arts.

For more information and to register on this event, please click here. The cost of the conference is £220 or £150 for students and PhD candidates, which includes the film screening and dinner on Friday 28 October.

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