Competition Juries as Intercultural Spaces

Between Evaluation, Experience, and Judgement


  • Carmela Cucuzzella Concordia University



In this article, design competitions, as they are practiced in Canada, are understood as devices that allow the study of interdisciplinary and intercultural dimensions of architecture. From the construction of the brief to the selection of the winning project, competitions are exemplary platforms for communicating design values. For example, competitor project proposals, which comprise many qualities, including constructive, material, and even political, represent the priorities of each design team, in the form of a place. Jurors debate each of these qualities through their own expertise. In their search for excellence, the competition jury is then an exemplar contact zone. By examining the various documents produced in this process, we can uncover the value systems of the many stakeholders. Observations of jury deliberations and analyses of jury reports can help expose how the diversity of jurors influences the selection of the winning project. Furthermore, in a contemporary context where environmental design is at the forefront, this diversity is especially interesting to study. An environmental expert’s evaluation of quantitative eco-measurements is very different from an architect’s judgment of spatial qualities and experiences. The focus of this article is to understand how such a variety of jurors influences the competition outcome.

Author Biography

Carmela Cucuzzella, Concordia University

Dr. Carmela Cucuzzella is an associate professor in the Design and Computation Arts Department at Concordia University. She is the research chair on Integrated Design and Sustainability for the Built Environment (ideas-be. ca). She is co-editor, along with Dr. Jean-Pierre Chupin and Dr. Bechara Helal, of Architecture Competitions and the Production of Culture, Quality and Knowledge. Her research focuses on the interrelation of the expressive, experiential, and practical considerations of sustainable design practices. Her work is also articulated around the needs of communities where her CoLLaboratoire initiative studies how installations in the public realm can contribute to a deeper embodiment of sustainable practices.


Andersson, Jonas E., Gerd Bloxham Zettersten, and Magnus Rönn, eds. Architectural Competitions as Institution and Process. Stockholm & Fjällbacka, Sweden: The Royal Institute of Technology and Kulturlandskapet, 2016.

Andorno, Roberto ‘The Precautionary Principle: A New Legal Standard for a Technological Age.’ Journal of International Business Law 1, no. 11-19 (2004).

Arendt, Hannah. The Human Condition, Second Edition. first published in 1958 ed. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1998[1958].

Beck, Ulrich. Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. Translated by Mark Ritter. Theory, Culture and Society. London, California, New Delhi: Sage, 1992. 1992.

———. Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. Translated by Ritter Mark. Theory, Culture and Society. London, California, New Delhi: Sage, 2004.

Bindé, Jérôme. ‘Toward an Ethics of the Future.’ Public Culture 12, no. 1 (2000): 51-72.

Boutinet, J. P. Anthropologie Du Projet. Ist edition Quadrige ed. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2005.

———. Grammaires Des Conduites À Projet. Paris: PUF, 2010.

———. ‘Les Multiples Facettes Du Projet.’ Sciences humaines 39 (1993 1993).

Chupin, Jean-Pierre. ‘Judgement by Design: Towards a Model for Studying and Improving the Competition Process in Architecture and Urban Design.’ The Scandinavian Journal of Management: special topic forum on ‘Architectural Competitions’ 27, no. 1 (2011): 173-84.

———. ‘Quand Juger C’est « Concevoir Un Projet.’ ARQ, La revue d'architecture 154, Spécial sur le jugement en architecture (sous la direction de Jean-Pierre Chupin) (février 2011 2011): pp. 48-51

Chupin, Jean-Pierre, and Carmela Cucuzzella. ‘Environmental Standards and Judgment Processes in Competitions for Public Buildings.’ Geographica Helvetica, Swiss Journal of Geography, special issue on competitions, Forms, places, and processes: tracing geographies of architecture through design competitions directed by Joris Van Wezemael (Fribourg), Suisse, no. 1 (2011): 13-23.

Chupin, Jean-Pierre, Carmela Cucuzzella, and Bechara Helal, eds. Architecture Competitions and the Production of Culture, Quality and Knowledge: An International Inquiry: Potential Architecture Books, 2015.

Collyer, G. S., and M. 2 Berk. Competing Globally in Architecture Competitions. Chichester, West Sussex, England ; Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Academy, 2004.

Cucuzzella, Carmela. ‘Judging in a World of Expertise: When the Sum of the Parts Is Less Than the Whole.’ In Architecture Competitions and the Production of Culture, Quality and Knowledge: An International Inquiry, edited by Jean-Pierre Chupin, Carmela Cucuzzella and Bechara Helal, p. 144-61. Montreal: Potential Architecture Books, 2015.

Dewey, John. How We Think. Boston: D.C. Heath and Company, 1933.

———. The Quest for Certainty - a Study of the Relation of Knowledge and Action. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd, first published in 1930, 1990.

Giddens, Anthony. Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age. Oxford, Cambridge: Polity Press and Blackwell Publishing (first edition 1991), 2004.

Guba, E. G. , and Y. S. Lincoln. Effective Evaluation: Improving the Usefulness of Evaluation Results through Responsive and Naturalistic Approaches. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1981.

Habermas, Jurgen. ‘Modernity - an Incomplete Project.’ In Postmodern Culture, edited by Hal Foster. London: Pluto Press, 1985.

———. Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action. Translated by Christian Lenhardt and Shierry Weber Nicholsen. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1990.

———. The Theory of Communicative Action, Volume One, Reason and the Rationalization of Society. Translated by Thomas McCarthy. Boston: Beacon Press, 1984.

International Standards Organization. ‘Iso 31000 - Risk Managment.’ In Principles and guidelines. Geneva, Switzerland, 2009.

ISO. ‘Environmental Management — Life Cycle Assessment — Principles and Framework.’ Switzerland: International Standards Organization, 2006.

Jessop, Bob. ‘The Rise of Governance and the Risks of Failure: The Case of Economic Development.’ International Social Science Journal 50, no. 155 (1998): 29-45.

Kreiner, K. ‘Designing Architectural Competitions: Balancing Multiple Matters of Concern.’ Conditions: Independent Scandinavian Magazine on Architecture and Urbanism (2010).

Lipstadt, Hélène, ed. The Experimental Tradition: Essays on Competitions in Architecture. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1989.

Matthews, H. S., L. Lave, and H. MacLean. ‘Life Cycle Impact Assessment: A Challenge for Risk Analysts.’ Risk Analysis 22 (2002): 853-59.

Reich, Kersten. ‘Observers, Participants, and Agents in Discourses: A Consideration of Pragmatist and Constructivist Theories of the Observer.’ In John Dewey between Pragmatism and Constructivism, edited by Larry A. Hickman, Stefan Neubert and Kersten Reich. New York: Fordham University Press, 2009.

Ronn, M., R. Kazemian, and J. E. Andersson, eds. The Architectural Competition (Research Inquiries and Experience). Stockholm: Axl Books, 2010.

Schön, Donald, A. The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. printed in the USA: Basic Books, 1983.

Sjoberg, Lennart. ‘Factors in Risk Perception.’ Risk Analysis 20, no. 1 (2000): 1-12.

Spreiregen, P D. Design Competitions. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1979.

Sunstein, Cass R. Risk and Reason: Safety, Law, and the Environment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Tostrup, E. Architecture and Rhetoric; Text and Design in Architectural Competitions Oslo 1939-1997. Great Britain: Andreas PAPADAKIS Publisher, 1999.

Trochim, William M. K. ‘Evaluation Research.’ (2006 2006).

Tukker, Arnold. ‘Risk Analysis, Life Cycle Assessment-the Common Challenge of Dealing with the Precautionary Frame (Based on the Toxicity Controversy in Sweden and the Netherlands).’ Risk Analysis 22 (2002): 821-32.

Van Wezemael, Joris E. ‘Spaces of Knowledge Creation: Tracing Knowing-in-Action in Jury Based Sense-Making Processes.’. International Journal of Knowledge-Based Development (IJKBD) (2011).

Van Wezemael, Joris E., Jan Michel Silberberger, Sofia Paisiou, and Pierre Frey. ‘‘Mattering’ the Res Publica – Swiss Architectural Competitions as a Foucauldian Dispositif.’ DISP Journal of Planning, ETH, Zürich (2011).

Visschers, Vivianne H. M., Ree M. Meertens, Wim F. Passchier, and Nanne K. deVries. ‘How Does the General Public Evaluate Risk Information? The Impact of Associations with Other Risks.’ Risk Analysis 27, no. 3 (2007): 715-27.

Von Schomberg, René. ‘The Objective of Sustainable Development: Are We Coming Closer?’ In Foresight Working Papers Series, Serie Documents de Travail Prospectifs, N°1: European Commission, Directorate General for Research, Unit K-2 Science and Technology Foresight, 2002.

Werner, Wouter, G. ‘Responding to the Undesired. State Responsibility, Risk Management and Precaution.’ Netherlands Yearbook of International Law XXXVI (2005): 57-82. ‘Canadian Competitions Catalogue.’ Research Chair on Competitions (Jean-Pierre Chupin), School of Architecture, Universite de Montreal, 2001.

Yaneva, Albena. Mapping Controversies in Architecture. Ashgate Publishing, 2012.

Additional Files