Why we need architectural competitions in construction procurement

22-07-2020

The tendering procedure will allow project owners to evaluate not only the financial situation but also the architectural proposal at the selection stage

By signing the Association Agreement with the EU, Ukraine committed to harmonizing Ukrainian laws with EU directives in several stages. These requirements applied to many areas of the economy. They also covered public procurement in construction.

As the state spends a significant portion of the budget on construction orders, the rules under which such services are procured should ensure equal access for all participants and reduce corruption risks during public tenders.

One of the necessary solutions is the introduction of a legislative possibility to hold architectural competitions during procurement. Currently, the majority of architectural design contracts in the ProZorro system are purchased through the open tender procedure, where the only criterion is the price of the lot. I.e., roughly speaking, during the auction, an architect is first selected, and then does he/she propose a project of a certain building or complex. Thus, the contracting state often buys a “pig in a poke” without being able to evaluate a future development project at the tender stage.

Instead, being a common practice for Europeans, architectural competitions allow assessing the creative component at the initial stage of project selection and, in addition to a reasonable price, to choose the best architectural proposal. For example, thanks to open architectural competitions, Khreshchatyk Street was rebuilt after the war in 1944, and the Memorial of the Heaven’s Hundred Heroes and the National Museum of the Revolution of Dignity will appear in the center of Kyiv soon.

If you look at the procurement statistics in construction, their amount is growing year by year in all areas. At the same time, non-competitive procurement methods for architectural design services still prevail over competitive methods both in terms of the number of lots and in terms of cost. Thus, in 2018, the contracted cost of such services under non-competitive procedures was 5 times higher than under competitive ones.

In Ukraine, the international practice of architectural competitions is still not developed, although there are some positive dynamics. For example, in 2010-2017, only 65 architectural competitions were announced, and in 2016-2017, their number increased almost threefold. As for procurement funded by the budget, the situation is worse. Since 2016, there were only 8 negotiating procedures based on the results of architectural competitions. Currently, the state, acting as a customer, still focuses exclusively on price and can not assess in advance the quality of the proposed architectural solutions of tender participants.

A striking example of the unsuccessful selection of contractors without competitive tendering is the project of a health complex on Raiduzhna Street in Kyiv, which has provoked extensive public discussions. The project was strongly criticized after the architectural design of the future building was announced. The project owner was completely satisfied with the price criterion, but the citizens and the professional architectural community, mildly speaking, were not impressed with the author’s creative approach.

Source: delo.ua

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