The Competition

Competitions as Tools for Research

For Non Architecture,competitions are much more than just an architectural exercise, they are a valuable tool to challenge and involve talented designers from all around the world into a collective research.The competition system, which is often considered to be a very arbitrary process, turned out to be the best tool to provide motivation for other people to join us and express their vision.

The competition system is not only a way of bringing together the forms and ideas of the project but, above all, in this plurality of interpretations, it is a way to an open source research, to say something, but letting others define the message.Architects have their very unique way to imagine architectureand because of that, one competition, results in different narratives.

If there is one feature of the architectural competition that can set it apart from other concerns within architecture, is that bring together processes that would otherwise have little to do with one another. Competitions do not just bring together movements of physical stuff, but different modalities of presence and process: diverse interests, findings and discourses.

Quoting Farshid Moussavi, “competitions are driven by the desire to go beyond what already exists − unthought-of architecture − whereas commissions are mostly demand-driven and often by those of the market. We could say that competitions are to everyday architecture what competitive sport is to everyday fitness training. Competitive sports break existing human boundaries and set records for bodily capacities. Similarly, architectural competitions are invitations to make conceptual leaps and to open new frames, speeds and scales through which we perceive space and time.”

As Chupin stated, competitions make it clear that architects are not just designing buildings (where architectural objects add reality to the building) but producing objects that have been called instances of potential architecture. The language of competitions describes architectural processes in advance, before any actual architects, clients or buildings have filled in the roles defined for them.And in this sense, competitions can be interpreted as research tools.

The human mind has been struggling against restrictions of technology and resources, directing all its efforts to overcome these, so as to achieve emotional freedom. Ifwe ask though competitions for a Non Architecture, we indirectly ask for Non Architectural means of expression.

Architectural representations of all types have continuously moved between the status of artefacts and the delineation of processes, while maintaining their role as the intermediary between thought and action in architecture. Drawings compose a powerful articulation of the formation and development of thoughts and intentions in architecture. Photographs, on the other hand, capture built space as subject and artifact, and so on.

Alberto Pérez-Gómez suggests that “creativity’s playful deployment” is only enacted when architects are willing to engage their personal imagination. Revealing the real and imagined, the introverted and exposed, the ephemeral and the permanent, the precise and the poetic, through lines, points, colours, surfaces, lenses and sentences.

For us, a competition it is not just a matter of fulfilling a specification, but of doing it in some way within a situation in which the design may not have anything to do with an actual, yet-to-be-constructed building.

Our only purpose is to encourage and support the creation of brave innovative ideas.


  • 1. Chupin JP, Bilodeau D and Adamczyk G (2004) Reflective knowledge and potential architecture. In: ARCC/EAAE Montreal Conference on Architectural Research (eds L Fontein and H Neuckermans), Montreal, May 2002, pp. 39 – 48. Leuven: EAAE.
  • 2. Cuff D (1992) Architecture: The Story of Practice. London: The MIT Press.
  • 3. Jones P (2011) The sociology of architecture: Constructing identities. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.
  • 4. Larson MS (1994) Architectural competitions as discursive events. Theory and Society 23(4): 469 – 504.
  • Pérez-Gómez A (2006) Built Upon Love Architectural Longing after Ethics and Aesthetics, Cambridge, Mass., London, The MIT Press.