The Worst International Competition of the year: Fael Khair Cyclone Shelter Design Competition result amused us!

on Saturday 03 October 2009 - 10:08:36 | by NEO
We are going to talk about one of the worst example of architectural design competitions we ever dealt with. ArchSociety is regularly publishing (officially and unofficially) the news and updates of almost all the important design competitions from around the world. Many of you may have seen the post about the 'Fael Khair School-Cum-Shelter' design competition this year. Which was intended to seek for design solutions to be built in the cyclone prone areas of Bangladesh. ArchSociety unofficially published the news and encouraged the members to participate. And we know many of you participated in it.

This competition from the very beginning was a total mess in organization. None of the standard procedures of running an international competition was followed. They had no website for the competition! There was no way to pull out information other than email! And there was no standard process of registration. There were severe confusions in their literatures (like where to submit the project at the end Dhaka or Jeddah or both!). They had no clear declaration about the jury. They instructed to design in two different ways, on ‘killa’ (raised earthen platform) and on RCC stilts. Why? How do they know so surely that these are the only two options of designing cyclone shelter? If they know so well about the solutions then why to call a competition? Even there was no standard publication of results as we see in case of any other international competitions. They did not publish the details of the winning designs other than just a word file containing names and single images. Even that file may be mistakenly came to ArchSociety desk. They did not send it. 

However this was a competition organized by a reputed organization IDB (Islamic Development Bank) and they have a handsome fund of USD 130 Million for the project! Then why to take the most basic step of the project the architectural competition in such a terribly unprofessional way? We have no clue. From the first day of their press release ArchSociety officially emailed and called their contacts offering absolutely free services to help running the competition and to help in online submission or publications. They showed no interest. The responsible person in Dhaka IDB was almost never ready to cooperate for anything. Anyway they might not give us the chance to help them that's merely their wish.

But after all these if they would have selected some good designs we could forget the messes they did during running the competition. The result becomes the proof of their (organizers and the jury) ignorance about how to professionally run an architectural competition, 'a cyclone shelter' what it should be and what does 21st century architecture means.
Some of the designs might be ugly to look at however might have good design inputs inside, we don't know. And very few of them might have reached the minimum standards of a design of a cyclone shelter cum school at all. They gave an instruction about inserting some Islamic Architectural element in design. An emergency shelter has nothing to do with religious motifs. But looking at the winning designs confuse us about the intension of the jury and the organization whether they really want to help the affected people by providing them good design solutions or they want to entertain themselves with bellow standard architecture containing silly symbolic motifs. Apparently from the images they look like very uncreative, with no proper solution of dealing with cyclone, no indication of alternative energy and water sources, safety, security and other very basic design issues.
Or maybe all the submitted designs were so bad that there was no other way but to select these, in that case we would request them to publish all the submitted designs online. By the way, the winners and others are most welcome to publish the details of their designs in ArchSoceity forum by themselves.
We are sorry to show you these designs of 'cyclone shelters' we found them in their Word file: yes this is the result:

Killa Option Design Winners:

1st Prize 50,000 USD winning design: Designer: Alamgir Hossain (Bangladesh).
Fael Khair School Cyclone Shelter Program winner! Alamgir Hossain
We have to believe this is a cyclone shelter!

2nd Prize 30,000 USD winning design: Designer: Khairul Enam (Bangladesh)
Fael Khair School cum Cyclone Shelter Program, 2nd prize, Khairul Enam
This is a cyclone shelter too!

3rd Prize 1500 USD winning design: Designers: Emtiz Zafree, Md. Ahmed Rajeeb, Al Numan Md. Younus, all from Bangladesh
Fael Khair School cum Shelter Program winner 3d prize
This design may work. However we have already seen these type of solutions from long before and very often they also fail to accommodate all the crises people face during cyclone in a changed social and climatic situation.

Stilt Option Design Winners

1st Prize 50,000 USD winning Design: Designers: Mohammad Naimul Ahsan Khan, Farzana Rahman, Md. Saidur Rahman, all from Bangladesh

Fael Khair School cum Shelter Program winner 1st prize stilt option

Looks like a better design in the list. Yet the drawings could say more about the design strategy and confirm how efficient it would be in fighting with several problems of cyclone.

2nd Prize 30,000 USD winning design: Designer: Tanvir Mahmud (Bangladesh)
Fael Khair School cum Cyclone Shelter Program winner
From the image it looks like a rest house in an amusement park or forest.

3rd Prize 15,000 USD winning design: Designer: Fahim M. Tonmoy (UK)
Fael Khair School cum Cyclone Shelter Program winner
Seems to be another aparently good design. Still a single image doesn't tell us anything about the solutions achieved.

If IDB wants to waste their time and the 130 Million USD in this way then it will be memorable as one of the worst architectural design competitions taken place so far. And in future architects will deny participating in this type of competitions.
Comments are most welcome.
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