Architecture on Film: The Competition + Q&A with Angel Borrego

Thurs 8 May 2014, 7pm

  • Still from the film The Competition © Angel Borrego Cubero
  • Still from the film The Competition © Angel Borrego Cubero
  • Still from the film The Competition © Angel Borrego Cubero

An intriguing, behind-the-scenes report of a competition between five of the most acclaimed star architects who have been invited to put forward designs for the future National Museum of Art of Andorra. The screening will be accompanied by a Q&A with the director Angel Borrego and Jeremy Till, architect and Head of Central Saint Martins, UAL.

The Competition (Public UK Premiere)

A documentary movie constructed as an almost uncomfortable but intensely fascinating account of how some of the best architects in the world “toil, struggle and strategise” to beat the competition. While nearly as old as the profession itself, architectural competitions became a social, political and cultural phenomenon of the post-Guggenheim Bilbao era. Taking place in 2008 at the very moment in which the economic crisis took hold, this is the first competition to be documented in excruciatingly raw detail. Jean Nouvel, Frank Gehry, Dominique Perrault, Zaha Hadid and Norman Foster are selected to participate in a design competition calling for proposals for a future National Museum of Art of Andorra. As Norman Foster pulls out of the competition after a change in the rules that allow the documentary to happen, three months of design work for the other practices begins. What ensues is a power struggle between the competing architects who become more and more wary of the documentary process as things progress.

The presentations to the jury happen over the course of one intense day close to election time in Andorra, attracting a lot of media attention. Of the four remaining architects three show up to make personal presentations, every one of which becomes a fascinating study in personality, strategy, character and showmanship. But who will win and does the jury have the last word?

Spain 2013. Dir Angel Borrego Cubero. 95 mins. Various languages with English subtitles. 


Angel Borrego
was trained in architecture, with a PhD from ETSA Madrid and a MArch from Princeton University, where he was a Fulbright scholar but he has been developing an interdisciplinary body of works that deal with issues such as the contemporary urban condition, the negotiations between private and public space, violence, surveillance and fictions in architecture. Using mainly site specific installations, new media and video installations. In 1999, he founds Office for Strategic Spaces, an art and architecture office that leads research projects, designs projects for exhibition spaces, housing and social housing projects as well as urban planning strategies.

Professor Jeremy Till is an architect, educator and writer. He is Head of Central Saint Martins and Pro Vice-Chancellor, University of the Arts London. His extensive written work includes the books Flexible Housing, Architecture Depends and Spatial Agency, all three of which won the RIBA President’s Award for Research, an unprecedented achievement in this international prize. As an architect, he worked with Sarah Wigglesworth Architects on their pioneering building, 9 Stock Orchard Street. He curated the UK Pavilion at the 2006 Venice Architecture Biennale and the 2013 Shenzhen Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism. /