Architects and competitions seem to go hand in hand … a reality that I don’t particularly care for. If they aren’t entering designs as an effort to earn a commission, they are entering projects into design competitions in an effort to receive a design award. Back in the mid-90’s I submitted a house design into a competition where the prize was $500 for first place and the opportunity to get your house built. I won that competition (I took the $500 and bought a weight bench that I promptly used to store my dirty laundry) but the project didn’t move forward and my house was never built. For those of you that swing through LifeofanArchitect.com with any regularity, you’ll know that I run my own design competition where playhouse designs are submitted – the whole event os done for charity and there is no cost to enter. You don’t really receive anything for winning other than I get the winning designs built … which I think is a pretty good prize.
So why am I talking about design competitions? A few months ago, I presented at a Leadership Conference and as part of the afternoon’s development activities, we were asked to identify a goal and then develop an action plan to help achieve that goal … this turned out to be more difficult for me than I anticipated. In the end, I acknowledged to the group that I had never won a design award before but didn’t think this was a reflection on my design skills, rather it was due to the fact that I had never submitted a project for a design award previously.
Pretty hard to win a design award if you never submit, yeah?
Here is my entry …
[click on images to enlarge]
In an effort to remedy my lack of design awards due to my lack of submitting a project for consideration, I decided that I would submit the playhouse I designed for charity this year – ‘The Lantern House.’
Do I think I’ll actually win? Not really, but not because I don’t think it’s worthy – I’d like to think that this is a worthy project – but it has more to do with the competition that is also up for a design award. The categories I had to choose from were:
- More than 50,000 square feet
- Less than 50,000 square feet.
My project is just under 60 square feet. Hard to pack in a lot of *WOW* in less than 60 square feet.
The biggest thing I have going for me is the story that is associated with this playhouse. I think the “Who, What, and Why” behind this story is pretty good – an architect using their design skills to benefit the community, built for a material cost less than $700, and I think it is actually designed pretty well.
But will it be a winner? [shoulder shrug]
Since I have served on design juries before, I know that the graphics and imagery are important in the review process. Normally the jurors only have a short amount of time to weed all the entries down into the pile of potential winners. Snappy photos certainly help … I took mine on the job site and I’m certainly not a professional photographer. Terrific graphics help as well … I have some sketches and every construction drawing (except the roof plan) I created in the course of the one Saturday I took to prepare them.
Will they be enough to tell a story? Will they be enough to catch the eye of a juror who is also sorting through multi-million dollar projects that had a small army of people working on the project?
I kind of doubt it.
I’ll find out if my modest playhouse was deemed worthy of a design award this week. I’ll be pretty happy if I win but I’m not sure how I’ll feel if I lose. I have pretty strong feelings about this playhouse – to put together a visually engaging design with extremely limited means that pays attention to every single detail in a project less than 60 square feet that clearly benefits my community? Maybe I already am a winner,
… but I’d still take the award.