Pick the Winner, so You can then Choose the Reasons: Epistemic Dissonance in Architectural Competitions

Kristian Kreiner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


Studying architecture competitions from the perspective of valuation puts the formally designated valuators, i.e. the competition jury, into focus. The jury performs the dual task of evaluating the submitted design proposals and appointing the winner. Competitions are presumed to produce fair winners by first rating (evaluating) the design proposals and then ranking them (appointing the winner). Ethnographic studies of juries in action suggest that rating and ranking are performed, but in the reverse order. The winning design proposal sets the standards against which all proposals are understood and evaluated. This chapter develops the rationale for this counterintuitive, controversial practice. The nature of architectural design work and the jury’s task make the observed practice appear less a matter of choice than of necessity. Even when, occasionally, the practice becomes publicly known, picking the right winner seems more important than the legitimacy of the processes producing such winners.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Performance Complex : Competition and Competitions in Social Life
EditorsDavid Stark
Number of pages24
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication date2020
ISBN (Print)9780198861669
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Ranking and rating
  • Practical judgment
  • Epistemic silence
  • Incomplete epistemic objects
  • Substance versus legitimacy

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