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Old March 6th, 2012, 05:02 PM   #1
FordFalcon
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architectural competition -

Hi guys and ladies this is a copied and pasted message posted on Projects in Lithuania thread which is very quiet so I wanted to get intelligent and better informed opinions from you. The competition winners will be chosen later this week!!!

salut

Francis :-)

----

Bonjour everyone Francis here

There is one of the most controversial architectural competition of the decade which is held at Nida, Curonian Spit.

HERE

Nida is a heart of Lithuanian identity, people are very touchy about this place when it comes to building a new symbol to replace the old Soviet structure. This is a very high-profile competition and there are whopping 28 participants submitted their work.

On the page above and a couple of other arch websites where people discussing about the submitted works. Why this competition is so controversial? It wasn't, as far as most people could tell, until the works were submitted.

The impressive rendering and concept ideas to blow people's mind. The judges will face difficult moment selecting the winners. But based on what? Many of the works did NOT meet the requirements outlined on the competition brief.

the points are roughly as below:

- the design must be unique and original and specific to natural Nida setting.

- the new design must not be hard in form and volume.

- the building cannot extend outside the given site boundary.

- the submission is blindfolded so that the judges won't know whose works they are until the winners have been chosen.

- the building must include ALL the functions listed in the brief and the functions must be the minimum dimensions outlined.

- it is a renovation project therefore the original structure need to be retained to certain extent rather than demolishing the existing structure completely.


As you can download and view the proposals that many offices utterly failed to meet the requirements.

Some offices utterly failed to meet the most fundamental point of being unique and original but shamelessly copied recently published designs by other big names in other parts of the world. That is discussed on the official site mentioned above and also HERE

So, those offices who copied or heavily borrowed other projects will be failed. Whether it was on the rule book or not plagiarism should not be tolerated especially it will be an icon of a nationally and internationally recognised symbolic location of Lithuania. Shame on you thieves!!

I can spot one or two proposals are outside the boundary whether they call the extended part an element of landscaping and if that excuse is acceptable. Probably they are failed.

A few offices happily removed the existing structure completely and put a new building on the site. Based on the rules outlined on the brief they will also be failed.

Also from the now very hot discussion someone pointed out that some offices "forgot" to remove the file data that contains their office names or easily identifiable nicknames, or a staff members' name. According to the rules they will be failed.

If, for whatever reasons, those violators of the strict competition rules will be selected as a winner other participants have three days to submit an official statement pointing out the items I mentioned above to counter the decisions made by the judges.

So what are your opinions??

Salut Francis
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Old March 7th, 2012, 12:47 PM   #2
FordFalcon
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FYI the pages linked above are in Lithuanian language and Google Translator won't do the best job but you will get the essence of the 28 works submitted (they are downloadable PDF presentation boards).

Sorry I failed to mention earlier that the main purpose of the building function is a cultural centre which contains a theatre space and a gallery space plus many small facilities including tourist information office and a cafe. It's a public building and not a commercial theatre. Any questions I try to ask but the translated text I can get are as good as what you would get :-(

I hope to see not just "oh I like number xxxxxx design" but something more intelligent and deep analysis about the designs and their influences! :-)

Francis
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Old March 7th, 2012, 02:00 PM   #3
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Hello

There is another discussion page although in Lithuanian language there are many photos of the models all the participants were asked to build at 1/200 scale. Take a look!!

http://www.************/forumas/showthread.php?t=12925

enjoy!

Francis
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Old March 8th, 2012, 11:26 PM   #4
Concrete Stereo
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Plagiarism hardly exists in architecture. Its formal language tends to come in waves, and has so for the last 5000 years.

Even for the most recognisable reference - the 'forest of columns' - i could name several buildings that could argue to be the 'original' of the diagram.

As always, most of the entries are horribly sub-standard. Very few of the others manage to get to a quality where I'm conviced the decent presentation would actually produce a decent building, let alone a good one.

This one however might actually turn out to be a good building. It has a bit of the competition-formalism, but all in all it is well proportioned and has a certain elegance.





Last edited by Concrete Stereo; March 8th, 2012 at 11:31 PM.
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Old March 9th, 2012, 12:30 PM   #5
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Hi Concrete Stereo

Do you think this design you picked would suit the site? I think the form must come from the setting both natural, cultural and historical. It's easy to say that you like this design because it looks nice but that will not necessarily the best proposal for the competition for the specific surroundings...



Another point you mentioned that many of the presentations did not meet your high standards however a good design doesn't have to accompany a pretty graphic presentation or precisely crafted scale model. Also a nicely rendered visualisation won't yield a good building in reality, in fact good renders fool people that pretty buildings with no structure can be built in reality. Such proposals are almost impossible to implement without heavy modifications..... that's what I think. Francis
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Old March 10th, 2012, 12:14 AM   #6
Concrete Stereo
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I don't know the specific site or the specific history, but a site in the end is also just a site. There's rarely enough context to carry a building, which means, architecture shouldn't be too scared to be self-sustainable at times.

My remark about entries being sub-standard wasn't about the presentation quality, the inverse i'd say. Like in every competition most entries - as an architect - make my eyes hurt and my hearth break. Even worse when good renders succeed in making a sub-standard design look 'not that bad'.
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Old March 10th, 2012, 01:58 PM   #7
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The site is located here

If you see the sat image the boxy black box named Agila is the building which needs to be revamped. As you zoom out it is NOT a city or urban setting which could accommodate most of the proposals which are like bigger the better. This town is situated at the Lithuanian end of the Curonian Spit which is basically a very long peninsula, facing the large brackish lagoon.

To Concrete Stereo, if you see the given site encircled by dotted line then that's a very Dutch or Japanese approach - you are free withing your own territory. This particular competition has a rather detailed brief which specifically ask the architects to come up with a renovation proposal which has a very strong relationship with the surrounding environment both built form and natural as I outlined in my first post.

Some offices decided to take up the roof forms from the surrounding buildings and some patterned after the natural landscape. Some took the visual symbols or logos of Nida literally.

The quality of design may not be very high nor thoroughly investigated partly due to the short design period given - I think less than two months between the public announcement of the competition and the submission deadline. So some offices decided to borrow heavily from other designs had already been published elsewhere and some offices came up with forms that cannot be built in reality. The particular project you picked is very urban and also resembles some recent projects by British, Norwegian and Danish designers or if you look back some Dutch, Japanese and even Eduardo Souto de Moura. And yes there is a design patents and copyright laws applicable to building forms and designs. You can refer to the internet search results.

The competition organiser wanted something good fast and the result is what you see. I am only watching this competition from a distance and I do not speak Lithuanian language so all the information I have is quite fragmented (Google translator is hopeless, Bing is worse) so if there are Lithuanian speakers who can confirm what I understand is correct or otherwise.
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Old March 13th, 2012, 04:05 PM   #8
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Hello people

There are official "favourites" published on the website of the architectural authorityy of Lithuania. The translated page is here

To everyone's surprise the panels did not drop those people who did not stick to the rules of the competition however removed four proposals for not complying with a rule which is rather strange. Those removed happened to have forgotten their digital id or incorrectly labelled their names on the PDF files thus revealing their ID for this blindfolded competition. Other people who were NOT removed from this competitions failed to meet a variety of rules set by the brief so the big discussions continue.

Apart from completely demolishing the existing structures and placing a new building or two on the site (this was clearly a competition for a renovation proposal) the most favourite (their score system is bizarre, the smaller the number the more favoured) is guaranteed to stir the emotions of the German tourists who colonise the town of Nida every summer. One comment I saw on this site had links to a building in Berlin, more specifically Tränenpalast at Friedrichstrasse S-Bahn station. The proposal resembles very much of the Tränenpalast building, whether the designer knew or thought about it. Whether this design will stay as the most favourite of all proposals it will be very upsetting to the vast majority of the German tourists who flock to this part of the world which used to belong to them.

The rest of the preferred proposals are ordered by how Soviet they look the better. The Soviet brutalism, cubism and expo designs from the 1960s were still the panels' preferred forms and volumes and they commented very "unique and original". Other more contemporary designs were heavily borrowed from building designs of 2008 Zaragoza expo.

I now can see most people are unhappy with the competition organisation of the competition itself rather than particular proposals. It's now assumed that the whole things is corrupt. What do you think??

Francis : )
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Old March 27th, 2012, 08:33 AM   #9
Kiboko
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I agree with Concrete Stereo on his choice of the best design. Most of these designs have too many different elements so they become chaotic. Especially those designs with some "houses" on top of it are a no-go. It is better too focus on one typical and good detailed and good materialized facade and shape. Less is More.

A good second choice would be this. When using the right details it could turn out very nice.
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Old April 5th, 2012, 09:37 PM   #10
FordFalcon
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Kiboko

I think you can take a look carefully at how the original building looks like:
http://www.visitneringa.com/en/main/agilaen

As you can see this office did not design anything just pushed the top box to the back and tilted at 45 degrees. The competition brief seemed to have been written with a genuine intention of welcoming some changes to the current situation which peiple are tired of seeing this 1960s Soviet approach and while many offices just added some cosmetic changes to the existing building (the competition was titled as a renovation and not a brand new new building) and some pushed the design further. However from what I found out using Google translation that the competition was utterly corrupt and many design were stolen from other projects. Many offices did not even keep the original building structures but removed everything currently there.

The one you picked was fevourably mentioned by the board at the preliminary selection earlier but to me this design looks like a funeral hall and there is no "design" elements put into it in other words there is no notable improvements from the existing building but simply made worse than what already is. The notion of less-is-more is something the contemporary architectural trend is already tired of in the second decade of the 21st century and white washed minimal boxes aren't acceptable as a future proposal.

From what I understand from the comments by people on the Lithuanian Architects Union website that the board voted in favour of their friends works basically voted for each other and did not select the best design. The union official page has failed to publish the final result either so people are uncertain whether there were any changes to the ranking or any submitted works got removed due to violation of the competition rules. It looks like the competition was so corrupt that the organisers decided not to publish the final results officially but kept to themselves.

So this competition, which I became interested in because I spent a few summers there in the past, is an open-ended one without official results. The board split the money among themselves and that's the end of it.

Francis
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