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2011 | OAC | Press

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Tue, 2012-02-14 10:36

Four months into running a design competition, you run into some pretty interesting queries from people. The questions we get can be very eager, very confused, and some clarify cultural oversights halfway round the world. We'd like to take a moment now and re-present some of the more intriguing questions coming in. It's worth your while...especially if you're on the fence about joining, or if you think we're all jerks for even daring to pull this kind of stunt.

#4 (confounder's award):
we can make tug boat that you need - Our company can make tug boat for your needed and we can make long term contract like 50 tug boats.... The time frame of our making tug boat is normal 8 months so for example if you order us 50 tug boat still we can make it in 8 months.

We've yet to craft a response to this one.

#3 (people's choice):
Do I live in a Developing Nation as defined by the World Bank?

We refer to the World Bank, which has two categories - "low-income" and "lower-middle-income" - for nations with a Gross National Index per capita less than $3975. 91 countries qualify (pdf). (Of course, if teams are able to pay the registration fee, they should - registration funds go into a kitty for the winning teams. But also no one will be turned away for lack of funds, regardless of national origin.)

#2 (the tough call):
I was wondering If I can choose the Evin Prison as my site project. Evin prison is called "Evin University" due to the number of the intellectuals that the prison housed. It was told that the government had programmed to allocate this site to the Shahid Beheshti University before the green movement in Iran; however, apparently this alteration in the usage of this site has not happened yet and it is currently running as before.

It looks as though the prison is still in use, which unfortunately disqualifies it from being a viable site for the competition. If you can demonstrate that the prison is scheduled to close, then you'll be okay. Otherwise it wouldn't satisfy competition requirements as being a realizable proposal. Perhaps another prison site can symbolically adopt the message of reform - if all else fails, use ours.

#1 (unintended obstruction):
I work in heritage conservation for a state government in Australia and we often have to deal with ex-military sites that are being sold off by the Australian government. We consider it critical that a heritage assessment be made of each site so that the [significant] aspects of the site...can be conserved for the benefit of the community's understanding of its own history.... This is the approach to heritage...outlined in the Australia ICOMOS Burra Charter, which has been used around the world.

Military sites are invariably sites of the exercise of power and they are, almost always, of significance to the local, regional and sometimes national community in many different ways: historic, social even aesthetic. The significance doesn't have to be nice to be worth keeping; often it is important to keep reminders of unpleasant things (like Auschwitz or the Hiroshima Dome, both World Heritage listed). It seems that your competition doesn't include this critical phase - considering how to assess and retain such significance - in its conceptual underpinning.

Although it may not be emphasized, our Challenge Guidelines stipulate Contextual Appropriateness:

"Understands and responds to the global context of the Challenge and is at the same time relevant to the local context. A place-specific proposal with concern for identity creation and respect for the existing site, physical characteristics, local cultural and socioeconomic characteristics."

We feel this guideline ultimately discounts any abusive or insensitive interpretations of a site. That said, we agree not all military sites are created equal. Some are incredibly charged. Others however present incredible opportunities to improve or heal a community that's been negatively affected by the presence of military sites. There are many examples of successful projects that have taken this course of action, and we want to make the discussion more public and create an international dialogue like this one.

Perhaps we can highlight the preservation/restoration aspects of working on military sites as how Australia approaches them through the Burra Charter. We were wondering why no teams form Australia seemed to be joining our competition yet, even though our organization has a healthy representation Down Under (is that/has that ever been a real nickname for Australia?). I'll take some notes back to the team. There's a good chance we can post an update to the guidelines and discuss the integrity of preservation. We will certainly link to the Burra Charter as a reference.

Arsenal Music Center | Metz, Lorraine, France
Weapons arsenal turned concert hall and exhibition gallery. the realization of this structure was the subject of an international design competition. named one of the 20 most beautiful concert halls in the world, this distinction qualifies the arsenal as an acoustic diamond. we can hear the Erudite music playing now...Download PDF
Chinati Foundation | Marfa, Texas, USA
Army base turned contemporary art museum. Donald Judd, established New York based artist, was initially drawn to Marfa for its natural beauty. it has since become one of the most important locations for permanent large scale installations done by a limited number of artists. Download PDF
Cranston Street Armory | Providence, Rhode Island, USA
Formerly used to house the RI National Guard, this armory has proudly and prominently served the state since inception. having held inaugural balls, political rallies and even circuses, it is asserted that returning the armory to functional use is critical to the continued revitalization of its surrounding community. Download PDF
Marine Mammal Center | Sausalito, California, USA
Anti-aircraft military launch facility turned marine mammal rescue center. have rescued and treated 16,000+ marine mammals since inception in 1975. with the recent renovation, the center has been able to teach nearly 30,000 students and adults every year about ocean conservation in first class facilities. Download PDF

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