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DO DESIGN COMPETITIONS COMPLY WITH THE LAW?1

International Construction Law Review

DO DESIGN COMPETITIONS COMPLY WITH THE LAW?1 Nicola Ibbotson * Architect, HKA/Probyn Miers ABSTRACT Design competitions highlight a contradiction in public procurement; the legal requirement for transparency and objectivity but the practical requirement for subjectivity. Do these opposing requirements mean design competitions do not comply with public procurement law? To come to a conclusion, a selection of current design competitions will be analysed. I will investigate how bidders interpret tender documents to understand the brief and develop a design. I will then examine the role of tendering authorities; writing a brief and deciding on the evaluation methodology. 1. INTRODUCTION Judging architectural design competitions involves evaluating qualities that are non-quantifiable. Subjectivity is therefore necessary to fully appraise the quality and value of different designs. However, public procurement law requires the principle of transparency to be adhered to via an objective approach to the evaluation. Because of this contradiction it is often considered that design competitions are in conflict with public procurement law. I will question this view, testing current design competitions. How do these competitions approach this conflict? Do they comply with the law? Architectural design competitions are used to procure the services of consultants. Tendering authorities looking for the best consultant for a project and require consultants to submit information about their organisation. Whereas design competitions look for the best design of a project and require consultants to submit information on the design. Selecting the best design does not require the consideration of past experience, so some consider that a true design competition should be * Email: [email protected] 1 Article based on a dissertation submitted as part of the Master’s in Construction Law and Dispute Resolution at Kings College London. Carried out under the supervision of Virginie Colaiuta, Visiting Fellow and Partner at LMS Legal LLP. With the assistance of Professor David Mosey, Director of the Centre of Construction Law and Dispute Resolution. Awarded first prize in the European Society of Construction Law thesis competition. Pt 2] Do Design Competitions Comply with the Law? 173

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