Below I would like to give some insight into the work of the jury according to the procedure that has been used for well over a decade now.
After the members of the jury have gotten to know each other, an individual tour takes place, during which the individual member’s own experience and ideas come to bear. This takes place completely uninfluenced by procedures or discussions. It's not a question of evaluating all works individually according to a series of criteria and classifying them against each other (e.g. as in the assessment of projects at universities), but rather of selecting, from the documents relating to the submitted works for completed projects, those which can be expected to make a recognisably significant and outstanding contribution to the theme of the competition on the basis of individual aspects and/or their overall compositional effect in terms of their architectural design in relation to local conditions such as climate, location, function, technical means, etc.
Now it is a noteworthy fact that, when I was entrusted with the role of chairman of the jury in 2003, the Department of Architecture agreed in consultation with the sponsor Fassa Bortolo with my relevant opinion,
1) that two other non-Italian jury members – and thus a 3-to-2 majority of foreign architects – should play a role in deciding on the overall result,
2) that they should come from different countries, especially those with different climatic conditions and different socio-cultural conditions, and finally
3) that these people should be different from jury to jury, so as to reflect the fact that the prize is an architecture prize that deals with a global theme, which can be explored in its enormous diversity according to the specific features and peculiarities in each case and can be conceived in enormous breadth worldwide, following sustainability criteria, on the basis of knowledge available today and regional realisation potential.
The observation of each project that I mentioned above, which takes place in the first individual tour of the jury, serves as the basis for the formation of opinion. In 2018/2019, 100 projects from
29 countries were evaluated. The panels were pre-sorted according to usage groups and presented to the jury accordingly.
If the opinion-forming process based on every jurors’ professional competence then leads to a joint discussion during which an individual decision about each work is made as to whether or not to include it in the list of promising entries, this is taken into account. Detailed discussion then takes place on what the consensus regards as outstanding, exemplary quality.
Over the years, it became clear that this procedure unexpectedly reduced the selection and limitation of positive votes to between a third and a quarter of the submitted works, i.e. if a project does not find a “lawyer” for inclusion in the final round (because that is the only point at issue), then it will no longer be pursued.
For the following procedure the jury is convinced that it will be possible to carry out the task of selecting the medals and the honourable mention in a focused and detailed manner from now on. The result has been that the overriding intention, namely that it is not a question of a prize for sustainability in building, but rather that the demand for architectural quality in all the diversity of the contributions is the overriding criterion and that all the numerous partial aspects – which can hardly ever be shown to the highest degree in a single project – must be assigned to the quality criterion.
At the time, a first assumption about this approach was that the procedure could end in chaos. This has never been the case, however, even though each time the projects and participants and the jurors involved are very different. The task and the abundance of options for a sustainable architecture is seen as a shared architectural objective.
This overall view necessarily stands in contrast to everything that has been disseminated worldwide as the “International Style”, something that is still occurring. For reasons of branding and recognition, almost identical buildings are erected from Vancouver to Dubai – as if it were a company logo – or something “mobile” like a vehicle or an aircraft that has to be universally usable worldwide in all relevant climates. In the case of a building which is “immobile”, however, the local specifics must prevail, to maintain a stable resource balance in the long term and to avoid the need to correct deficits caused by enormous waste of fossil energy and limited material resources through energy-dependent air-conditioning technology.
Thomas Herzog – Germany (Chairman)
Anne Lacaton – France
Xu Tiantian – China
Theo Zaffagnini – Italy
Nicola Marzot – Italy (Segretary)