The role of architectural competitions was discussed controversially at the KZA panel of experts on Wednesday. Around 60 guests came to the KZA office and discussed the topic.

It was already the title of the event that reflected the field of tension: “At all costs! – Hell, no! Competitions between shunned evil and acclaimed result” was the official topic of the 17th KZA panel of experts.

In his welcome speech, Wolfgang Zimmer looked back in the first step. Architectural competitions were not an invention of the present, as the managing partner of the KZA office claimed. “They very often lead to iconic buildings that we all know and that have a lasting impact on the location.”

But what does it take for a competition to be successful for all those involved in the project, and what are the uncertainties of such a procedure? Benjamin Hossbach, managing partner of the architectural office [phase eins] from Berlin, provided a fundamental introduction to this topic. Among other things, the office is specialized in competition management.

Werner Völler then presented the view of a project developer. “Competitions give opportunities, but can also be obstacles,” said the deputy head of quality assurance of OFB Projektentwicklung GmbH from Frankfurt am Main. His overall conclusion was positive. “Over the years, we have managed to create significant value by the use competitions.”

And what about the public administration? What criteria does it use to determine for which spots a competition is being held – and in which cases a project can be launched without this procedure by an investor? This question was addressed to Hans-Jürgen Best in particular.

The city director of Essen gave an insight into local competition procedures of the recent past, and he was accused of not always being able to decide comprehensibly. This assumption is obvious at first glance, Best said. “Whether it really applies is another matter. The public is not always informed about all the things going on.”

Also Kerstin Memering, representative of Dr. Ing. Jänsch Vermögensverwaltungsgesellschaft, took up the issues of openness and equal opportunities. The company plans to build a skyscraper at Essen’s Huyssenallee – accompanied by controversial public discussions since there will be no architectural competition. Yet the discussion was often one-sided, as Memering stated. Hardly anyone was talking about the considerable amount of time and money invested by architectural offices taking part in competitions. “It is questionable whether small offices can afford that, for example.”

Proponents versus opponents? It was not as easy as that, said Axel Koschany, not even for the architectural offices themselves. “We like to take part in competitions and consider them important – that’s the one hat. On the other hand, we also like and benefit from direct commissioning. ”

In the end, the quality of design must always come first, and it should be prioritized by the administration even in “weaker locations”, as Benjamin Hossbach demanded. Axel Koschany followed this direction: “I wished that the 2b-locations of a city got as much attention as the prime locations,” said the managing partner of the KZA office.