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Structuring architectural competitions as a competitive procurement process

Samuel Laryea (School of Construction Economics and Management, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa)
Ron Watermeyer (School of Construction Economics and Management, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 21 July 2020

Issue publication date: 28 April 2021

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Abstract

Purpose

Architectural competitions have been in existence for over 2,500 years. Past studies on this have focussed on the architectural aspects, competition formats, design evaluation by jury members and its evolution. However, no comprehensive research has examined the way that architectural competitions can be structured as a competitive procurement process for contractual outcomes. This paper addresses that gap by examining the way in which a two-stage proposal procedure (as defined by ISO 10845) was used to convert the architectural ideas competition for two new universities in South Africa (SPU and UMP) into a public procurement process with contractual outcomes.

Design/methodology/approach

A case study was designed to examine (1) the procurement and contractual aspects of the two-stage proposal procedure within a public procurement context; (2) the challenges encountered in implementing the procurement procedure adopted; and (3) the outcomes of the procurement process. In total, 16 documents relating to the architectural competition were examined, using document analysis, to obtain insights into the procurement approach and processes. This was followed by in-depth interviews with the competition administrators to identify the key challenges encountered in implementing the procurement procedure. A content analysis method was used to analyse the qualitative data.

Findings

Only 40% of architects who expressed interest made submissions in the first stage. Those admitted to the second stage associated themselves with architectural practices and submitted tender offers which were evaluated on the basis of their financial offer, preference and quality. Most participants experienced difficulty with the procurement procedure due to unfamiliarity with the process and tight timescales. However, necessary clarifications provided by the client's team enabled them to respond appropriately and the procurement procedure proved effective for procuring innovative design ideas from nine talented architects. They were all based in small to medium-sized firms rather than large firms.

Originality/value

This paper fills an important gap in current understanding of how architectural competitions may be alternatively structured into a competitive procurement process, using empirical evidence from two architectural competitions. Architectural competitions have traditionally been used and characterized in the research literature primarily as an ideas competition rather than a competitive procurement process. This paper, therefore, extends current knowledge on the traditional way architectural competitions are generally used in practice and demonstrates through examination of two case studies how architectural competitions may be further extended and utilized as a competitive procurement process rather than just a process for obtaining ideas.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Thank you to the interview respondents and the New Universities Project Management Team for providing the data for this research. This work is based on the research supported in part by the National Research Foundation of South Africa. The Grantholder acknowledges that opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in any publication generated by the NRF supported research are that of the author(s), and that the NRF accepts no liability whatsoever in this regard.

Citation

Laryea, S. and Watermeyer, R. (2021), "Structuring architectural competitions as a competitive procurement process", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 28 No. 4, pp. 886-907. https://doi.org/10.1108/ECAM-06-2019-0282

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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