Review # 1

So the big day arrived. Students came in scrubbed and dressed in everything but black, expecting with some trepidation a jury of Sheffield worthies. The twist was that we had never invited anyone, and never intended to. Instead the students were to be the jury, role-playing in pairs each of the panel members:

A person from Creative Sheffield • A person from the Council • A Board Member of the Showroom • The CEO of the Showroom • A tenant of the Showroom • Andy Groarke of Carmody Groarke

Playing at being Andy Groarke # 1

Playing at being Andy Groarke # Version 1

Playing at being Andy Groarke # 2

Playing at being Andy Groarke # Version 2

Roles were taken on with some gusto, with questions asked after each ten minute presentation. Of course they were harder on themselves than real jury members would have been.

“What if I said it should be in brick? “, asks the member of the Council about a rather sensitive mesh and greenery facade. “I have to play really loud rap music when working, what are you going to do about that?” asks a computer-gaming tenant of an ambitiously open-plan workspace.

At the end of each presentation, marks were compiled against those kind of dumb categories that competitions are judged against: Concept • Meeting brief • Sustainability • Innovation • Contextual Approach • Image. Marks were added up, but not revealed. No clear winner emerged, but three definite groupings. The slightly barmy, but brave, work was in the middle category – the role players had squeezed this out.

Overall we were at the same pleased and depressed. Pleased that so much of the work met the expectations of the competition, many in a mature and sophisticated way. Pleased that we have so much stuff to work on, deconstruct, debate. Depressed how a normative brief and a normative competition system makes everyone play the architect game quite so expediently. What is sacrificed on the altar of hard sell? Or should we just be pleased that architecture students can so quickly get out stuff that looks like architecture, and forget about research, mapping, process, politics, sustained ideas?

Entries to the competition will be posted next week.


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