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Free Content Architectural Competitions: Creating Dialogues and Promoting Excellence?

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Architectural competitions have become a major way of commissioning buildings, especially for corporate and government structures. They belong to a practice that dates back to ancient Greece. This editorial essay ponders some of the critical issues raised by the two major types ‐ project competitions and ideas competitions ‐ through representative case studies of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture and the recent competition for master plan and buildings for the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science. The notions discussed are based on the author's personal experiences over four decades, and the roles played by the major players involved in the process ‐ the client or sponsor, the competition organizers, the designers/architects, and the architectural juries. The article ends with a consideration of why architectural competitions are valuable in the lessons they offer and the discourses they raise, and their significance for architects and architecture more broadly.
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Keywords: Aga Khan Award for Architecture; Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science; architectural competition; design brief; idea competition; project competition

Document Type: Editorial

Affiliations: 0000000095614638 Roger Williams University

Publication date: March 1, 2020

More about this publication?
  • The International Journal of Islamic Architecture (IJIA) is intended for those interested in urban design and planning, architecture, and landscape design in the historic Islamic world, encompassing the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia, but also the more recent geographies of Islam in its global dimensions. The main emphasis is on detailed analysis of the practical, historical and theoretical aspects of architecture, with a focus on both design and its reception. The journal is also specifically interested in contemporary architecture and urban design in relation to social and cultural history, geography, politics, aesthetics, technology, and conservation. Spanning across cultures and disciplines, IJIA seeks to analyze and explain issues related to the built environment throughout the regions covered. The cross-cultural and interdisciplinary nature of this journal will significantly contribute to the knowledge in this field.

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