Why were the entry projects of the 2020 competition so special? What’s the point of architects and artists meeting each other? What is the point of DECODE and how can one benefit from looking at the short entry videos? These were the questions we asked from different memebers of the jury. Of course every single person has a different answer to these questions, everybody was delighted by something else since we are all different.

Without doubt the year 2020  was completely different from all other years because of the lockdown, which made an impact on each individual.  Obviously this is visible on the entry projects of DECODE Competition too. The topics of the projects were things like the notion of space and its objects or the relation of forms and mankind. Walls used to symbolize protection, yet nowadays they became a sign of separation and isolation more like.

The need for a wider personal space was brought up and the need for endless freedom and the presence of nature in our everyday lives also appeared. Or such opponents like positive and negative space, physical and theoretical space, lack of presence. Also the topics of having or lacking a home (homelessness),  and climate change were also represented. Behind all these there are quite strong emotions: utter fear, helplessness, neglect and the need for self knowledge. These intensive emotions and the need for renewal usually lead to breaking borders.

Artists are specially sensitive to the changes of the world. The way they experience, interpret and present these events affect a great many other professions, for example architecture.  We might as well say that the topic of the lockdown is old news but perhaps it is not quite tasteful to look at this topic as if it was supposed to be trendy or something, in fact we’d better stop and think about solutions instead. Especially as the impacts are not visible in architecture yet, they might only be seen in the next couple of years. Will the minimum personal space grow? Will functional needs change so as to be able to provide the necessary intimacy and healthy environment? How can nature be included more intensively in the living space? Is it acceptable and can it be implemented at all to design buildings without a cooling system in certain cases?

As architects we don’t just blindly follow the demands of our clients but we take active part in a project that is a shared responsibility. We construct buildings for at least 50 years so it is our responsibility to create long term, innovative solutions. And this is where the architect meets the artist: the latter asking the questions while the former is searching for the answers.

All in all the entry projects were inspiring again. I recommend having a look at both the winner and the shortlisted projects too. Be inspired, think about them and share the ideas!


By Ildikó Pém, board member