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    Reality of architecture competitions: film exposes how five leading global practices try to win designs

    Geraldine Chua

    There’s a documentary showing the trials and tribulations five of the world’s best architects face when battling it out in an architecture competition, and as some of you might expect, it involves tantrums, sleepless nights, and pizza delivery.

    The Competition is a raw account of how 'starchitects' Jean Nouvel, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster and Dominique Perrault “toil, struggle and strategise to the beat the competition” for the design of the National Museum of Art in Andorra in 2008, reports ArchDaily.

    Directed by Spanish architect Angel Borrego Cubero of Office for Strategic Spaces (OSS), the film charts the process of creating an iconic project, from the initial announcement through to final presentations. Agreeing to be filmed was part of the competition’s entry requirements, and one architect immediately drops out of the race upon learning of this.

    Can you relate? – clip from the film showing Frank Gehry discussing project costs with the competition jury:

    Although The Competition is screening in a handful of cities, including New York City, Montreal, and Eindhoven in The Netherlands, Australia was given permission to hold four screenings at Open House Melbourne 2014, presented by DIS-cour.se. The Australian premiere included an introduction by the Director and a panel discussion with City Lab's Andrew Mackenzie, Project Director of Major Projects Victoria Annette Pitman, durability research architect Gina Levenspiel, and KTA's Kerstin Thompson.

    A DVD release is planned for the end of the year.

    In the meantime, satisfy your curiosity with this trailer, which might make you smile, frown, and nod in sympathetic understanding, especially since – SPOILER ALERT! – there is no winner. Sadly, the National Museum was never built in the wake of the economic crash, leading viewers to ask themselves if architectural competitions are held for their own sake, to "get some pretty cheap headlines", or a ‘necessary evil’ for better design.

    Editor's note: this article was updated on 20 March 2015

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