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Jan Silberberger is conducting an ethnographic study on the work of the jury boards in four recent urban design competitions in Switzerland. His studies revolve around three major research topics / questions:
a) Jury deliberations as fields of knowledge creation â€“ judging as designing. Sound, clearly defined evaluation and assessment criteria do not exist in advance, they emerge within. Briefs of design competitions just feature highly generalised criteria (such as â€śarchitectural qualityâ€ť or â€śquality with regard to urban planningâ€ť). Only by the juryâ€™s examination of the submitted projects these criteria can be sharpened or defined respectively.
b) Design competitions and openness towards unforeseen, high-quality solutions. Design Competitions provide juries with the ability to tolerate or even embrace certain violations against programme givens or specifications, that is, to keep projects that promise to be high-quality solutions although they - according to brief - had to be excluded from the competition.
c) How do juries in design competitions make their decisions? How do they produce a stable, robust jury report? How do they transform internal debates into coherent, consistent final reports?
d) What happens before a design competition is officially announced? How is the clientâ€™s wish (and the so-called â€śpreparatory studyâ€ť) translated into a competition programme that generates some scope for the competitors but at the same time communicates the obligatory requirements (some of the clientâ€™s ideas, the budget, the building law, and urban regulations)? How is a design competitionâ€™s space of possibilities is determined?
International Competitions and Architectural Quality in the Planetary Age, 16-17 March 2012, Montreal
AESOP Thematic Group on Complexity and Planning, 29-30 April 2011, Istanbul
Constructions Matter, 5-7 May 2010, Copenhagen
AAG annual meeting, 14-18 April 2010, Washington DC
Group Lecture â€žNew Approachesâ€ś, March 2010, University of Fribourg
Geocolloquium, March 2010, University of Friborug (together with Sofia Paisiou)
AESOP annual congress, 15-18 July 2009, Liverpool
Group lecture, April 2009, EPFL
AESOPâ€™s Thematic Group on Complexity and Planning, 16-18 October 2008, Thessaloniki