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Sustainable School Buildings in the Alpine Region

Creating Sustainable School Buildings in the Alpine Region: Guidelines for Decision-Makers to Achieve Optimal Results in Architectural Competitions.


In the quest for sustainable development, the architectural landscape within the Alpine region is witnessing a transformation, particularly in the educational sector. School buildings are not just centers for learning; they are beacons of community and environmental responsibility. However, the success of architectural competitions, which often shape the future of school architecture, heavily relies on the objectivity and foresight of the decision-makers involved.

Collection of New School Concept Studies


Emphasizing Sustainability and Integration

Sustainable school buildings in the Alpine region should blend with the natural topography while minimizing environmental footprints. This includes using local materials, ensuring energy efficiency, and preserving the natural beauty of the alpine landscape.


Guidelines for decision-makers

To achieve the best results in architectural competitions, decision-makers should:

  • Establish Clear Criteria:

The competition brief must outline sustainability goals, the necessity for innovative use of space, and integration with the environment as primary criteria.

  • Ensure Diverse Jury Expertise:

The jury should comprise architects, proven environmental experts and local stakeholders to provide a holistic view of the project's impact.

  • Promote Transparency:

All submissions must be guaranteed confidential and data leaks prevented through digital project submissions so that names of participating architectural firms are guaranteed to remain anonymous and thus neutrally evaluated to avoid bias.

  • Adopt a Blind Jury Process:

Introduce a blind jury process that focuses solely on the quality and innovation of the project and not on the reputation of the submitting firms or the reputation of the jurors.

  • Regular Rotation or Addition of New Qualified Jury Members:

To avoid recurring bias and ensure fresh perspectives, jury members should be rotated regularly, especially those invited by associations known for their bias towards networks.


Mitigating bias and network influence

To prevent meritorious projects from being overlooked due to the high involvement of architectural firms and to avoid any suspicion of bias:

  • Restrict Repeat Jury Appointments:

Limit the number of times a person from certain associations, such as the BSA (Federation of Swiss Architects), can be appointed to the jury to prevent a closed network from continuing to exist.

  • Anonymous Submissions:

Submissions should be anonymized to ensure projects are judged on merit and innovation rather than the submitting office's prestige.

  • Equitable Selection Process:

Create a selection process for jury members that is transparent and based on expertise rather than affiliation.


Conclusion

The resentment and frustration of many participating architecture firms has been very high for years. Despite this, hardly anyone dares to question jury decisions and initiate a discussion. They prefer to swallow decisions and hope for better "luck" the next time they take part. In open competitions, participants should also be limited to a maximum of 25, e.g., by drawing lots or after receipt of registration, to avoid economic idleness with high costs for the participants.The architectural landscape of school buildings in the Alpine region is at a crossroads and has the potential to become an international leader in sustainable and environmentally integrated design. By adhering to such guidelines, decision makers can create a competitive framework that promotes fairness and innovation, leading to educational structures that serve as examples of sustainability and architectural excellence.

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