If architecture is a culture of ideas then the way to leverage innovation is to enable cultural exchange, states architecture critic Edwin Heathcote in a special issue of L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui (AA).
Because architecture has a tendency to look inwards into its own culture, the kind of networking architects often indulge in so often appears to be curiously within its own boundaries. I was always a little puzzled by this craving for peer recognition, but it does make a kind of sense.
By Edwin Heathcote
Yet this both a global and a local form of culture: from schools to international offices, the profession benefits from being at the same time truly global, yet rooted to a particular place and set of conditions. The solutions found to one problem on one site will never be exactly replicated – even by a neighbouring site, yet inspiration and encouragement come from contact with those who are working in similar conditions and achieving often wonderful outcomes.
Although it seems an obvious thing to remark upon, architects don’t usually commission other architects. Yet the advantages to networking are clearly there. Architects appear on juries and awards committees, they sit on editorial panels, write and edit books and they are able to invite foreign architects to teach at their institutions. They work, and collaborate, internationally.
And the kind of prestige and recognition a competition can confer within the future of architecture also, critically, gives credibility outside the profession. Importantly, they are also able to admire plans and small projects which might bypass clients or people outside the profession. They are more able to recognize potential in humble beginnings. Once a practice is recognized within its own world, it is far more likely to attract attention from the media, from potential clients or sponsors and from like-minded souls elsewhere.
It might seem counterintuitive but architects’ serving to gain recognition within the culture of architecture – far more vigorously often than they attempt to beyond it – can be critical to their success. Of course, the competition brings attention from beyond that narrow world as well. The opportunity to travel (often for young, cash-strapped practices) to meet jury members and sponsors is in itself a huge boost to confidence and an exponential expansion of networks.
Read more about the benefits of global design competitions in the special issue of AA which brings together almost 50 experts affiliated with the LafargeHolcim Awards.
Final Call in the International LafargeHolcim Awards for Sustainable Construction
The LafargeHolcim Awards seek leading projects of professionals as well as bold ideas from the Next Generation that combine sustainable construction solutions with architectural excellence. It is the world's most significant competition for sustainable design. Participation is free, and prize money totals USD 2 million.
The Main category is open to architects, engineers, planners, project owners, builders and construction firms for projects at an advanced stage of design with high probability of execution. The Next Generation category is open to young professionals and students up to 30 years of age. This category seeks visionary design concepts and bold ideas at a preliminary stage of design, including design studio and research work. Projects may be submitted until February 25, 2020 (14:00 UTC).