Fabulously impractical

18 August 2010
Sarah Campbell blog picThe winners of this year’s Boston Society of Architects Unbuilt Awards have been announced. (The Icelandic marching pylons are by far my favourite.) Competitions are one way that architects win work; many procurement professionals will be familiar with this. It’s a fairly standard tender process – the firm with the best design and best quote generally wins. But this sort of competition is different: it’s the opposite of practical. It isn’t the best quote but the best concept that wins. And the firms aren’t in line to be awarded a contract – only glory. They have to pay to enter and in the entry criteria it says projects will be disqualified if they are under construction. This is one way that the architecture industry encourages innovation. In the design engineering world the James Dyson Award has a similar purpose (the national winners among the 18 countries that entered have recently been announced and their projects can be seen here). Innovation awards are obviously nothing new and exist in many supplier industries. But what do buyers think of them? Are you more likely to choose a supplier that has won one?
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