“Profound architecture arises from ideals of a better world and a more responsible, sensitive, perceptive and compassionate humankind” – Zvi Hecker

Competitions for selection of Architect have been the most imperative keystone in the journey of architecture and transformed the way world looked at it. The most famous buildings of the world are the outcome of design competitions- La Grande Arche de la Défense, Parc de la Villette, Centre Georges Pompidou, Sydney Opera House and Royal Danish Library are only a few examples to prove this point.

However under the present scenario of Design competitions, the financial imperative also plays a very important role in the outcome of results. It is argued that the competition leads to a very superfluous examination of the design and the jury in influenced by other things rather than just pure design.  Jury comprises of highly erudite professionals however they still can only do a general check of the design and can’t look into functional nitty-gritty for the client.

The scenario gets more complicated in the case of public projects wherein even the final client doesn’t have a belonging to the project as she’s not the final owner.  As quoted in the beginning, insightful architecture needs responsible humankind; nonetheless a responsible client is of vital significance for the success of a project. Jury merely compares the designs present and select the best out of them.

Therefore, it is the duty and responsibility of the client in this case to judge the design as per their requirement and critically analyse the same. In order to support the case an internal team/committee could be appointed including architects, engineering experts’ etc. Merely selecting a Design consultant doesn’t absolve a client from his obligation. Since in the case of a public project, the hard earned money of tax payers’ is being used design should be checked exhaustively.

It should be understood by these clients that architects had come up with a design based on his personal understanding which can’t be forced upon the functioning of the complete project. The design to an architect is as close as his child and therefore there would always be a strong resistance for any change. However, the client has a duty to get a design to suit the requirements and functionality of the said building. This should be done by continuously vetting and getting the changes done. The building/project coming up isn’t a personal property of design consultant but a moral obligation of the client. Moreover the ownership of the design gets transferred to the client as soon as the design is selected in the competition.

This should be duly understood by the professionals. As it would result in a sensitive and useful public projects and also would result in the judicious use of public money. The design calibration will result into a design, suiting to the needs of a project and not into design tampering.

Once the clients for public projects would start taking an ownership of their duty this problem would gradually disappear itself.  



  1. Singhvi! It is a very intriguing question that you have raised. I congratulate you for that. Definitely, the role of one of the major actors (clients) in public projects cannot be overlooked. However, the extent of their involvement would highly depend on the scale of projects, as the respective challenges and complexities would vary depending on the scale.

    In case of individual building projects, it is true that architect could turn stubborn at times. But then, architect need not to be blamed for and considered to be culprit for all sorts of disasters. This reminds me of Wien University campus for economics and business in Austria. It has a collection of buildings designed by various’ starchitects’. However, there is a lack in the involvement of city in university activities. The university does not seem to be part of the city. The problem here doesn’t lie in the intelligence of building design but, according to me, it lies in the execution of master plan that lacked a strong vision of involvement of people of the city it belongs to, while dealing with physical connectivity of campus with the city. Basically, the place making of a public project addressing the public becomes a question in the case of WU campus.

    I agree with you. A team of experts ,that is discussed, is important for large scale urban projects. This system proved effective in few European public projects. For instance, in the case of Zuidas redevelopment in Amsterdam, the role of expert panel in the name of ‘Zuidas Nucleus’ was to research, document and coordinate among different actors that aided to deal with the complexities that are involved in large scale projects. The major ‘client’ here is the Dutch government which even with its minimal financial involvement, was able to achieve a strategic plan that suits not just their economic development and employment needs but also a vibrant and safe place by assuring a long term viability for the private investors.

    In this era of privatization, for the welfare and development of state, government needs to have a strong role in achieving the balance. What we need is the flexible and not the fixed. The single perspective approaches might risk large scale investment projects. One needs to believe in process and evolution of strategic plan rather than on instinctive approach. These are just my thoughts as a budding urbanist. Hope I added to the discussion.

    And finally, regarding the question-Are the clients shying away in public projects?
    Well, if they are… then they shouldn’t be.


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