Wed | Oct 17, 2018

Overwhelming response to Houses of Parliament Design Competition

Published:Saturday | July 21, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Gordon Gill
National Heroes Park

The Urban Development Corporation (UDC) has reported that less than two months after opening registrations for the Government of Jamaica's Houses of Parliament Design Competition, it has received a "resounding response from more than 200 architects in Jamaica and the diaspora".

In a press statement yesterday, the UDC said that the application phase of the competition was now closed. It disclosed that 37 teams had registered to vie for the top spot in the historical competition - well ahead of the original target of 25 teams. The teams vary from students to very experienced architects, with 70 per cent of the registrants being Jamaicans residing on the island, while the remaining 30 per cent are from the diaspora.

"We are pleased with the overwhelming response that the competition has received, which is a testament to the passion and pride of our people who want to be a part of something historic for Jamaica," UDC general manager Dr Damian Graham said.

The competition, which runs from May 2018 to February 2019, invited qualified and eligible Jamaican architects living in Jamaica and the diaspora, who are registered in Jamaica, to submit their best architectural representation of what the new Houses of Parliament complex should look like.

The concept, as outlined in the competition design brief, includes a Parliament complex to be located within the confines of the National Heroes Park, nestled among passive recreational spaces, gardens and green areas, thereby requiring the entire multipurpose site to operate as a cohesive cultural and heritage environment.

Gordon Gill, competition patron indicated that to ensure a bias-free judging process, all entrants would remain anonymous to the judges until they have selected the top five teams, who would move on to stage two. Leading up to that period, the teams are expected to conduct in-depth research to help them present their best and most accurate designs.

Submissions for designs open on 20 July 2018, closing on September 17 at 2 p.m. Registered teams have also been receiving guidance and support from the UDC in the form of guided tours of the National Heroes Park and Gordon House, and a conference that was held at the offices of the UDC where the technical committee provided answers to questions about the competition. The teams have the opportunity to access a repository of questions with answers via the dedicated website that the registrants can access at any time.

Announcement of the top five teams who will advance to stage two of the competition will take place in October 2018, with each of the finalists being awarded J$2 million. Stage two of the competition will see teams working with a lead architect, who is registered and licensed with the Jamaica Institute of Architects, to prepare and deliver their fully-developed design plans and models, again following the guidelines laid out in the competition design brief.

The first, second and third-place winners will be announced in February 2019 at an awards ceremony, where they will be awarded with additional cash prizes of J$5 million, J$4 million and J$2 million, respectively.