The death of architecture by Jakupa Architects

Khalied Jacobs and Gabs Pather, renowned architects in Cape Town for having worked on Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town Station and several NMT projects have written this open letter to local, provincial and national bodies, with regards to current tendering practices. The contents of the letter suggest what many may have known for a long time, i.e. the lowest priced tender being awarded the contract, regardless of the level or quality of the work, or the risk of escalations, which has become common case for several projects in Cape Town. The extremity of the discounts being offered surely not only compromises the quality of work but the level of design thinking or quality of design embedded in these projects. The 2014 World Design Capital title is a an appropriate platform to begin to address this unsustainable practice, which threatens design in all spheres and tiers of public work.

An Open Letter to the Minister of Public Works, the Premier and the Mayor of Cape Town

At a time when the City is revelling in the accolades of being selected as the Design Capital 2014, it is widely known within the architectural services industry that in order to win a tender advertised by the City of Cape Town or the National Department of Public Works [NDPW], an offer of between 65 and 75% discount needs to be made to be in the running for consideration. Simple business sense tells us that these levels of discount cannot be upheld without considerable compromise, either on the quality of service or the collapse of the company through the inability for it to cover its costs. The pattern of current tendering practice reflects a crisis in our industry for which employers such as the City of Cape Town and NDPW are equally responsible and its ongoing support could spell industry-wide disaster well beyond architectural services.

When tendering for City and NDPW work, decimated prices offered for City and NDPW contracts have been the everyday experience for the full range of professional services ranging from engineering to quantity surveying, and one cannot help but ask whether the City or NDPW understands the implications of this disturbing trend.

Read the full letter at the website of Jakupa Architects and Urban Designers