Architecture Competitions, Cultural Identity and Urban Quality: An International Comparison to Go Beyond Conventional Wisdom

In conjunction with the publication of the collective book, Architecture Competitions and the Production of Culture, Quality and Knowledge, which includes an extensive international inquiry on the impacts of competitions on creativity and urban quality, led by researchers from the Université de Montréal (Jean-Pierre Chupin and Bechara Helal) and Concordia University (Carmela Cucuzzella), a public discussion will take place at 6:00pm on Thursday, April 16, 2015 at the Maison de l’Architecture du Québec (181 Saint-Antoine Street West, Montreal), with key figures from the Canadian media and institutional scene.

The discussion will be opened by Dominique Bérubé, Associate Vice-President for research, creation and innovation (Université de Montréal), where she will report on Université de Montréal’s leadership in the documentation and research on Canadian architectural, design, urban planning and landscape architecture competitions, with the aim of better understanding this format, being as old as it is complex, which aims to combine ethics with aesthetics.

Elsa Lam, editor of Canadian Architect magazine, and Ian Chodikoff, executive director of Architecture Canada | Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, will exchange views with the authors while highlighting Quebec’s cultural dynamic in the organization of competitions across Canada. They will report on advances in international research that enable to challenge today’s preconceived ideas on competitions in comparison with the various other forms of public procurement.

A book-signing session follows at 7:15pm; the book will be available for sale at $40.

Architecture Competitions and the Production of Culture, Quality and Knowledge (ISBN 978-0-9921317-0-8) is edited by Jean-Pierre Chupin, Carmela Cucuzzella and Bechara Helal, and is published Potential Architecture Books, Montreal, 2015. Ringing in at 404 pages, the book gathers 22 case studies carried out by internationally renowned experts on the expanding field of research on competitions (Germany, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Greece, Sweden, Switzerland, USA). In 2015, this publication represents the most comprehensive study of underlying issues concerning the definitions, organization, judgement, archival and publishing issues of architecture, urban planning and landscape architecture competitions in the world. These scientific contributions, richly documented and illustrated, revolve around questions that can be summarized as follows: How can competitions, historic devices that are both dreaded and praised by designers and sponsors, be considered laboratories for the production of quality urban projects? How do competitions contribute to the production of culture and knowledge renewal?