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Lindbeck, Örjan and Ståhlbom, Erik, 2012. Arkitekturtävlingar och platsbesök : the core project competition . Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Urban and Rural Development



Competing is a well established work model among Swedish
architects as well as in the international architect work force.
Through this study we set out to get better acquainted with this
work model in theory and in practice, and to hopefully gain
knowledge that will be of use to us and to others working in the
field of architecture.
Techniques, materials as well as the artistic expression of
contemporary architecture is international and today’s architects
operate on a global labour market. Architects often commit to work
on assignments far away from where they are based. Therefore,
to physically visit the site of interest may be time consuming,
expensive as well as harmful to the environment. Is it possible for
a designer to accomplish relevant proposals on how to develop and
improve a place that he or she has never visited? May there even
be situations in which the outsiders point of view is preferable?
These are questions that we aim to investigate, and we do so
through participation in an international design competition. We
hope to explore if and how it is possible to familiarize oneself
with a site that is likely to have very little in common with our
home environments, regarding climate, culture and scale.
In the practical section of this study we aim to investigate and
to try out methods of getting to know an unfamiliar site, other
than through actually visiting it. We investigate the subject by
creating a proposal to an international design competition. The
process is carefully documented, the result is presented in full and
finally pros and cons about our proposal, relative to the amount of
information collected, are discussed.
We also look to collect knowledge and experiences regarding
three phases of architectural competitions: the program, the
proposal and the jury work. This is done through documented
meetings with representatives of each phase. We have met with
landscape architect Linda Kullänger at the Swedish Transport
Administration. Linda Kullänger has been involved in the
creating of programs for big international competitions such
as the Stockholmsporten competition. We have also met with
landscape architect Sam Keshavarz, a landscape architect at
White Architects working with creating proposals to design
competitions. Finally we met with architect Katarina Nilsson
who represent The Swedish Association of Architects as a jury
member when design proposals are judged and a winner is elected.
Unlike many countries architecture competitions in Sweden are
supervised by the trade association, The Swedish Association of Architects. Fragments of these meetings are presented throughout
the study in the form of quotes, that relate to the different topics
in the text.
We’ve chosen to participate in The Core Project Competition, an
international design competition hosted by the city of Sebastopol.
Sebastopol is a town of ca 8000 inhabitants in Sonoma county,
northern California. It is located in a region known for its many
wineries, its natural beauty and its agricultural history. Sebastopol
is located in the crossing of two state highways, making it a
commercial hub to some 50,000 people, with businesses and
sights attracting customers and tourists from the greater region.
It is also a town in a region and a part of the world that neither of
us has visited.
The competition homepage has been updated several times during
the competition so far, changing the conditions regarding deadline,
competition resources and even the character of the assignment
(such turns of events would almost certainly have compelled the
trade association to intervene and cancel the competition, had it
been held in Sweden). At the time when we designed our proposal
to the competition, it’s focus was on the following three issues
(The Core Project 2011):
• Strengthen the towns connection to the natural surroundings,
including lakes, creeks and wetlands.
• Improve the traffic situation in Sebastopol. The town bares
many traces of modernistic city planning and the city core is
adapted to the car rather than to pedestrians. It is also located
in the intersection of two state highways, generating a great
deal of pass-through traffic.
• Support economical growth and create a favourable
commercial environment, supporting local businesses.
Our understanding is that most architects today use the internet as
a complement to visiting the site. In our case however, the use of
maps, satellite photos and images from Sebastopol found on the
internet has played a greater roll, as it has been the only available
way for us to see what the town looks like, and the only way to
analyse its physical structure. The scale and measures of streets
and buildings are more or less roughly estimated, using images
containing cars or people as reference objects.
We have also contacted groups and organisations in Sebastopol through an e-mail survey, in order to get to know about the issues
that are of most concern to the people living in Sebastopol.
Unfortunately this attempt didn’t result in anything, except our
conclusion that e-mail is a form of communication that can easily
be ignored.
We have been working as a group of two persons during every
step in the process of creating the design proposal, as well as
during the process of writing this study. We believe that this
method has lead us to results that is not only different but also
better than had we divided the work between us. This also gave us
the opportunity to discuss and learn from our individual previous
experiences. This way of working may on the other hand be more
time consuming.
The name of our proposal to The Core Project Competition is
Inviting Landscapes. It is a proposal where we “invite” four
different elements of the northern Californian landscapes into
Sebastopol’s city centre, creating four districts with different
themes. This is a conceptual proposal and these landscape themes
are meant to be inspirational to future design measures in the
public places of Sebastopol, such as parks, play grounds but also
the street scene.
The proposal also has a section with proposed practical actions.
This section includes suggested measures for improving the
street environment to prioritize pedestrians, by widening the
sidewalks and relocating parking spaces. We suggest the shape
and proportion, as well as the material in the space between the
buildings, to be chosen considering what is best for the site. This
can mean a wider pavement next to a popular res­aurant or a
greener, more inviting street scene next to a park. This part of the
proposal also includes suggestions to introduce a new model for
public transportation and a model for dealing with Sebastopol’s
underutilized properties, where decisions are made beforehand
regarding the structure and pattern of the street grid, making
Sebastopol a more walkable town.
Originally one of our intentions was to discuss and compare our proposal to the winning proposal (assuming of course that our
entry wasn’t awarded first price). We also intended to contact
members of the jury to get their views on the importance of site
visits, or lack thereof. As the deadline was postponed we decided
to focus more on competitions in general, hence the interview
section of the study. Because of this, the discussion about whether
or not we managed to create a successful proposal to develop the
town of Sebastopol is based only on our own speculations.
Another topic of discussion in this study is the impact of cultural
differences. In many ways our proposal presents ideas and
concepts that may come across as European. We are in many
ways unfamiliar not only with the site but with American values
in general, and this may work both to our advantage or to our

Main title:Arkitekturtävlingar och platsbesök
Subtitle:the core project competition
Authors:Lindbeck, Örjan and Ståhlbom, Erik
Supervisor:Varhelyi Nilsson, Hildegun
Examiner:Johansson, Rolf
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2012
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:YLARK Landscape Architecture Programme (admitted before July 1, 2007) 300 HEC, NY004 Landscape Architecture Programme, Ultuna 300 HEC
Department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
Keywords:Arkitekturtävlingar, platsbesök, fjärranalys
Permanent URL:
Subjects:Landscape architecture
Deposited On:26 Mar 2012 14:12
Metadata Last Modified:20 Apr 2012 14:25

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