Many architecture students (including myself) find it a little disappointing when they go into architecture school just to find out that at least most of first year is about copying rather than creating; you have to copy what you see and copy what other great architects have done before you. I use to hate this, but over the years I’ve come to understand how important that process was and how you need to learn how to copy well before you can do something of your own (unless you are a genius, in which case you can probably do whatever you like).
Apparently some people paid less attention than other during that first year, either that or they are completely unable to apply what they learned to other fields other than architecture. Such is the case of Per Linde, a Swedish architect living in London who founded the website combocompetitions.com.
I don’t know for how long this website has been running, but I just came across it today for the first time only to find that their current competition “poor but beautiful” is basically a mash-up of competitions we have already run at ARCHmedium.com. Take our “Rome Motorino Check Point” brief (http://en.archmedium.com/Concursos/RMCP/Summary.php), apply it to our “New York Theater City” site (http://en.archmedium.com/Concursos/End_NYTC/Results.php) and there you go! A bran new “original” architecture competition!
Come on… really? I’m all for competition (yes, we do organize competitions, the irony is not lost on me), but at least try to be original, otherwise it’s going to be hard to actually push architectural limits and challenge the architectural community to find new answers and solution to existing problems (which we all claim to be trying to do).
I was contacted by Per and after exchanging a few e-mails I have agreed to update this post with his view on this situation. For anyone who is interested, find his explanation below:
Thank you for the opportunity to address your comments.
It is understandable that you want to protect what you have created with ARCHmedium. While I appreciate the work you and your team have produced, I do want to emphasize that I haven’t used any of ARCHmedium’s competitions as a base for Combo Competitions’ briefs. This is evidently difficult to prove, but I sincerely believe that copying someone else’s success is not the way to further the architectural discourse.
One of the reasons for launching the Poor But Beautiful competition was to offer a competition that turned focus towards the typology of the parking garage building: its necessity in dense urban areas, paired with monetary neglect and the unwillingness to use its size and often prominent location as an advantage.
This is to be contrasted with ArchMedium’s Rome Motorino Check Point, which deals with traffic-related issues caused by illegally parked scooters. While both competitions concern parking, they do so in decidedly different ways.
When it comes to location it is important to clarify that the site of Poor But Beautiful is not the same as ARCHmedium’s Urban Theater Campus’. While both sites are indeed located in the Hudson Yards area of Manhattan, it would be a staggering task to sift through every existing competition to make sure a certain site and its surrounding areas have not been used before. Besides, it’s a well-known fact that the Hudson Yards area is currently being redeveloped, which by default makes it an architecturally interesting location universally.
I chose the site not only because of the current focus on and potential of the area (including attractions like the High Line and Madison Square Garden), but also because of it being a vacant plot of land on Manhattan, along with the general infatuation with cars in the US, and the inherent issues with the size of a parking garage structure located in a very dense urban area.
I hope this clarifies any misunderstandings.