Architecture as a spectator sport

Sometimes it’s lovely to be out of the hot seat and firmly in the background, which is exactly where I was at last night’s Architect Pitch organised by Archiboo. With architect pitted against architect and decisions happening in real time, it’s perhaps the only time architecture ever elevates itself into the scary and spot-lit realm of the spectator sport.

But once upon a time, and in a previous and quite different life, I was on the panel for a similarly inspired event. It was called Novel Pitch, it was back in 2009, and I was one of a panel of six publishing professionals.

For me, it really was a hot seat that time round: here we were, literary agents and editors, two parts of one tribe which spends most of its days curled around a desk, deciding in the full glare of the stage who was the fairest writer of them all. Making or breaking an aspiring writer’s hopes and dreams is such a solitary and hidden activity usually, and under normal circumstances we’d benefit greatly from the civilizing effect of time and reflection. But no such kindness here: we had to listen hard, grasp hold of what really mattered, and fast-forward to some sort of public response.

At least (as far as I can remember) there wasn’t an actual publishing deal at the end of it. Well done, then, to Archiboo and to HUB for raising the stakes that bit further: this really was real life, with a real-life project up for grabs. And well done to Francesco Draisci of Draisci Studio, who took to the floor with his bright red jacket, his colour-infused images and ‘his understanding of people’s emotional connection to the spaces they occupy’. He was indeed a worthy winner. But well done, too, to the six runners-up. I liked you all, for six different reasons, and I could have imagined the final vote going in a few different directions.

Very sensibly, Amanda Baillieu of Archiboo did reassure us that there had been preliminary shortlisting, so the three-minute pitches were in the context of more information than we were privy to on the night. But the whole event still did an excellent job of showing how the way we communicate, and the words we choose to describe ourselves, are crucial to the jobs we get and the success we enjoy. Architect Pitch – just like Novel Pitch – gives us a fast-motion, stripped back view of the way we all make decisions, and for that I applaud it loudly.

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