The highlights (and a few low points) of 2016’s design competitions

(This article originally appeared on Dec. 16, 2017 on the Architects’ Journal website, HERE.)

Those with their noses pressed firmly to the grindstone of the public sector will know that 2016 presented an increasingly exasperating array of pungent procedures and cack-handed contracts.

Despite evidence of good practice emerging in isolated pockets across the UK, many of us continued to wrestle with excessively complex, unnecessarily verbose prequalification questionnaires and archaic and bewildering web portals seemingly coded on a Commodore 64.

It was a big year for high-profile cultural projects. The Museum of London began and concluded the selection of a design team for its new Smithfield home, with the award going to a talented team headed by Stanton Williams. Meanwhile, in Essex, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council commenced, abandoned, and began again its search for an architect to take forward the Thames Estuary Museum it had previously awarded back in 2009, but which had ground to a halt in the seven years since AEW’s original scheme won planning. Quite who’s up for taking on this apparently Sisyphean task might become apparent early in the new year.

Continue reading “The highlights (and a few low points) of 2016’s design competitions”

The Portsmouth Elephant Cage

Designs will be presented to the public & stakeholders from this unique Anglo-Dutch architectural, landscape & engineering competition on Friday 25 Nov. from 5.00 – 7.30 at The Portsmouth School of Architecture, Eldon Building, Winston Churchill Avenue, Portsmouth.

These designs provide a range of best practice Dutch and UK options and proposals for the Portsmouth and Southsea frontage that respond to climate change induced rises in sea level.  The work is also intended to inform and advance sea defence design strategies faced by other low lying coastal cities. Details of the competition brief can be found here.

You are welcome to attend.

This competition is being organised by Project Compass with our Dutch partners Architectuur Lokaal & the Portsmouth University School of Architecture. If you wish to organise an Elephant Cage contact Project Compass.

Brexit Briefing for Architects Aug. 31, 2017

Project Compass has published a Brexit Briefing for Architects outlining the likely impact of the European referendum on public procurement in the UK. We will endeavour to update you when clarification becomes available as to how international trade in professional services will be impacted by any new trade agreements.

Read the briefing here.

Update: As of December 17, 2017 no trade agreements have yet been entered into but there has now been confirmation of a transition period which would appear to ensure continuity of the existing procurement framework and its ongoing alignment with the EU for a further two year period.

Construction Industry Summit, 20-21 Sept 2016

Project Compass Director Walter Menteth & Patron Angela Brady PPRIBA will be at ‘Buying Smart-Better Procurement’ in this years Construction Industry Summit 20-21/9.Walter will addressing how the G Cloud framework & European Single Procurement Document (ESPD) models provide the construction industry significant opportunities.

Further details here.

Cambridge University drops turnover bar for firms competing for masterplan

Read here the AJ report on one recent success that follows an initial representation to Project Compass by one of our supporters.

The Cambridge University agreed to cut the minimum turnover requirements in its biomedical campus contest and extend the deadline. This follows pressure from Project Compass and the RIBA and representations made to Mystery Shopper and the University.

Following this intervention Project Compass/RIBA intervention, the turnover threshold (previously min.£5m) was reduced to £3.5m. & the deadline for responding was also extended to 19 Aug. 2016, to allow practices previously excluded from the process time to prepare a submission.

Project Compass will help advise and support those seeking to challenge poor procurement practice.

The crescendo of Thames Garden Bridge opposition call for an independent inquiry

Following Project Compass’s detailed submission of critical evidence into the procurement of design services for the Thames Garden Bridge to the GLA Oversight Committee 17/9/15, and the subsequent Project Compass Thames Garden Bridge Procurement Report 02/16 examining both procurements of design and project management/engineering services, a significant number of other further fundamental concerns have been brought to light.

Calls have been growing for the project to be subject to an independent inquiry, with the RIBA now joining the chorus. Five inquiries: by The Charity Commission, The National Audit Office, the GLA Oversight Committee, the Mayors Office, and TfL’s external auditors have or are now interrogating separate issues. Continue reading “The crescendo of Thames Garden Bridge opposition call for an independent inquiry”

#Remain in Europe

A purpose in aligning EU procurement regulations has been to ensure our closest markets are freely accessible for design services.  The EU has constructively contributed to ensure the ongoing reform of procurement is made better, fairer, more accessible and can stimulate growth. Project Compass research evidence highlights many of the worst procurement practices uniquely emanate from the UK. The Leave campaign have presented no policy on how improvement might be achievable or delivered, with no evidence that leaving the EU would benefit UK construction procurement. In this absence what have we to go on? Continue reading “#Remain in Europe”