Richard Rogers Partnership may withdraw from international architectural competitions because it claims that juries are biased towards local practices. The shock move comes after its failure to win two high-profile schemes in France and Italy in the past year. A senior insider said the practice had to ask itself whether the cost could be justified if judges chose schemes by local architects.The practice lost out to Italian architect Massimiliano Fuksas in a two-stage competition for an international conference centre in Rome and was beaten by French architect Luc Delemazure in a competition to design a government building in Lille.
Lord Rogers wrote an angry letter to the French newspaper Le Figaro this month after losing the Lille competition. He accused the judges of political bias, saying: “I was greatly saddened to find myself involved in a competition compromised by political bias and local government intervention. This is no way to encourage international competition in projected French enterprises and is diametrically opposed to my experience hitherto. “Alas, this episode forces me to think twice before entering French competitions in the future.”
The senior insider added: “The Rome scheme in particular required a lot of work because it was a two-stage competition. We are seriously considering our position in terms of international competitions because juries are constantly biased towards the local architect. We are wondering if they are worth all the effort.”
A spokesperson for the practice said: “One should hesitate before generalising, but we have come across it on occasion.” The head of a practice that works with Rogers on schemes and also competes internationally said: “There could be a bias, but I think it may be just having a bad run. After all, it won in Wales and it isn’t a Welsh practice.” He added: “It did put a lot of effort into the Lille scheme and understandably feels sad. But at the same time, it is natural for people to go with people they know.”