I have often wondered what makes us unable to build the same nice-looking buildings we find in famous cities in foreign countries.
I found out that there were problems in the existing system. It was difficult for young and creative architects to have their ideas reflected on projects for the construction of public buildings.
Recently, we at Seoul Metropolitan Government announced the guidelines for improvement in the construction of public buildings. The guidelines were the result of expert discussions and workshops held on a total of 50-plus occasions based on the view that improvement of the quality of public buildings is linked to urban competitiveness.
The gist of said guidelines is that the lowest bid system, which has been adopted in more than 80% of the public buildings ordered by Seoul Metropolitan Government, will be replaced with the design-based competition system.
Under the new system, the successful bidder will be selected considering the overall design including spatial layout, aesthetic quality, convenience, and originality. The new system will apply to all buildings ordered by the 25 autonomous districts. This way, the quality and outward design of public buildings including community service centers and libraries will be improved to a great extent.
Plans for a public building will reflect the opinions of the local residents and experts from the beginning. Young architects with fresh ideas will be encouraged to take part in the design competitions. Bidding documents will be simplified. The selection process will be carried out in a transparent manner, and the participation of the selected designer until the end of the construction process will be guaranteed.
The method of design-based selection has been adopted chiefly for the construction of large public buildings in Seoul. The new system ranging from planning to actual construction is based on the judgment that no noticeable improvement can be made in the quality of public buildings without listening to the general public’s opinions and participation of designers with fresh ideas.
The new system has the following features: shifting from the lowest bid system to design-based selection; adopting a system of competition encouraging young, highly capable architects; selecting in a fully transparent manner; establishing a governance structure wherein the people are invited to take part from the planning stage; ensuring that designers participate in the construction process; establishing a website specializing in architecture, and; adopting a Seoul-style comprehensive architect system.
The list of judges will be disclosed in advance. The entire process of selection will be announced via the Internet to ensure the transparency of the selection process. Designers will be given an opportunity to explain the concept they have in mind as well as how they will execute their plan. In addition, they will be invited to take part in the entire construction process. In the second half of this year, an architectural website will be established to inform architectural designers of the annual plan for placing orders for the construction of public buildings to help them make preparations in advance.
We at Seoul Metropolitan Government are considering adopting a Seoul-style comprehensive architect system. Under the system, private experts carry out systematic and comprehensive management of all public buildings with a firm sense of responsibility and consistency. These experts will help a lot in preventing public building construction projects from being executed lopsidedly in terms of overall functions.
The overall outward appearance of Seoul will hopefully be changed conspicuously with the new system based on the harmony between its 600-year history as the country’s capital and its current status as an ultra-modern city with population of 10 million. Moreover, with the participation of the local residents in the presentation of fresh ideas, Seoul Metropolitan Government will fulfill its vision as “a city developed with the participation of the people.”