It used to be, if someone held an architectural competition, that it was a great opportunity for entries out of left field from young unknowns to win, and to change the face of architecture. It also used to be that there was a dichotomy between green architecture (often derided as crunchy granola and far more interested in the way you build than what you build) and good cutting edge modern architecture that we all look at in the magazines and on Inhabitat and Mocoloco. We thought this was history- after all, TreeHugger exists to promote good green design and you don't get in unless you are both, but in two major competitions the tilt has been to status quo, "lets just concentrate on the green and ignore the design". In the recent Archetype competition, they just picked the boring, because, well, it had great green credentials and they had to sell it to developers. At least they are building the winner.
Far more obnoxious is the C2C competition, where they gave the prize to a marvelous, modern and innovative project that ran on spinach, but when it came to building......
as organizer Gregg Lewis says in Inhabitat: "Many of the designs, including many of the winners, were far more progressive in their thinking relative to the environmental sustainability than they were in addressing the question of economic viability. We are continuing to pursue development of a number of the winning designs elsewhere in the region where price won’t be quite as much of a constraint and will look forward to seeing a variety of the solutions in their built form." translated: Let's build the cheap one that won't scare the neighbours.
Architects are not stupid
(well they are, or they wouldn't be architects) , they look at the jury and judge their chances before they enter competitions. If innovative, challenging designs lose to contextual front-porch jobs because jurors cannot judge both architecture and systems, then we will not get the best architects even bothering to enter these competitions. This is a great loss- we need ideas that change the way we look at buildings, not how we look at plumbing. ::Inhabitat