Greetings, friends and colleagues, January’s architects ወርሃዊ was an interactive and educational session. It was a subsequent of the previous discussion about design competition challenges with Zeleke Belay. This time it was focused on the AEA Competition Bylaw and what it stands for.
Addis Adugna commenced the presentation by mentioning that AEA has been hosting competitions for more than 14 years since 2006 G.C. He pointed out that competitions aid in generating new ideas and publicizing young and proficient architects. A brief overview of competition products/designs in the global scope as well as the national scale was presented. Sydney opera house in Australia and National Palace in Ethiopia were indicated as products of design competitions. In the local case, some of the challenges of design competition prior to the adoption of AEA bylaw for competition were closed jury reports and incomplete Terms of References. The appraisal method was one of the area that was neglected. The composition of the jury, the name of the jurors was never announced to the competitors/entrants.
The AEA competition bylaw was adopted from UNESCO’s standards and regulations. Each article of the UNESCO regulations is accompanied by explanations and terms of regulations to assist the promoters in the organization of international competitions. The main focus of AEA bylaw was on architecture and town planning. The 2006 bylaw includes several articles about AEA’s approval, prize money, compensation and the jury. AEA’s approval category mainly focuses on how the architect registers for the competition and legal proceedings. Article 21 as an example states that “The promoter undertakes to accept the decisions of the jury and to pay the prize money within one month of the announcement of the competition results”. Addis noted that after the endorsement of the bylaw, projects like Zemen bank headquarters, 2011 and Gulele botanic garden, 2008 were designed. Other competitions that took place between 2015 – 2017 were met with challenges of finance. Money or budget was considered as a main parameter for winning. The AEA competition bylaw was later revised on 2019 and has 11 sections and 51 articles.
Another broader point raised was that classification and type of competitions were included in the beginning of the bylaw. One important revision was “Any set of regulations should be published in English language” and “Insurance of competitors’ designs”. Submission and judgement of designs should stay anonymous. Submission of unnecessary or extra documents to the jury would ultimately result in document removal from the competition. Another crucial article mentioned was “Each participant in a competition by invitation shall receive an honorarium in addition to prizes”. All these revisions on the design competition bylaw were included in the document after a long and thorough review and reflections from members and chair persons of Association of Ethiopian Architects.
An important article of the bylaw that mentions “jury members are appointed by the promoter after AEA’s approval” was also presented. A related article about the jury process indicated that “same jury should judge all stages of design competitions” and “The jury expenses are to be paid by the promoter”. Design fee and procurement related issues are some of the enduring challenges of design competitions. Offices have also developed a practice of entering into competitions and outsourcing it to young architects with limited arrangement on recognition and involvement of the team further into the next steps of the project in case of a win. Offices should be responsible enough to become a vessel for such upcoming professionals and foster rather potential leaders of the industry.
Some discussion points raised were: How the competitors design the projects and how the fee should be fixed. It was also raised that the documents should be functional to all members. Ethical standards on abiding with the competition bylaw was pointed out by participants of the session. Another participant mentioned how flexible the competition bylaw could be, if it were to meet the demand of the architect in discussion. Addis responded by clarifying that the bylaw as a basic guideline for architects and respective firms. That is a document aimed at ensuring a harmonized process of competitions. As it was apparent from the discussion, Increasing the document’s security to ensure that the winner will do the project is a crucial factor.
The enlightening presentation by Addis Adugna was concluded by remarking creation and recognition of young architects should be given emphasis when hosting design competitions. It was also suggested that the current competition bylaw should be revised to accommodate some changes. The session was finalized by implying that future discussions are encouraged within members and chair-persons of AEA to improve and effectively enforce the design competition bylaw as a framework.