Architect lashes out at 'suicide fees' used in bids

A leading British architect has lashed out against designers who are winning major building commissions by offering "suicide fees".

Rab Bennetts, who transformed the Royal Shakespeare Company theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon, lost the chance to create Manchester's proposed £19m First Street cultural centre – despite scoring full marks for design quality in a competition for the project.

The Dutch architectural firm, Mecanoo, won the competition and Mr Bennetts told Building Design magazine that its fee bid was "incredibly low". Architectural-design competitions in Britain are judged on a 70/30 weighting between design quality and fees. Mr Bennetts said Mecanoo's design was judged to be "quite a lot worse" than his, but its strong score of 22/30 on low fees overwhelmed his superior design rating.

"I'm hearing the same from other architects," he said. "You get beaten by low fees every time."

His outburst has been supported by Ruth Reed, president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, who told The Independent that the number of complaints about suicide fees had increased since 2008. Mecanoo declined to comment.

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