Dezeen Magazine

Competition: win tickets to Turncoats architecture debate series

Competition: Dezeen is giving away four pairs of tickets to a series of architectural discussions in London, which aim to "turn the conventional archi-debate format on its head".

Congratulations to the winners! Stephen Palmer-Hogan, Adam Windle, Louise Coates and Lucy Riordan.

The Turncoats series hopes to differ from typical "rubbish" architecture debates. It was created by Architecture Foundation deputy director Phineas Harper, former director of Studio Weave Maria Smith and Robert Mull, dean of the Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design.

Turncoats debate competition

"Most architectural debates are incredibly dull," said Smith, who recently co-founded architecture and engineering practice Interrobang.  "We've become used to lukewarm love-ins where everybody on the panel is too polite to say anything even remotely challenging."

"Turncoats will turn the conventional archi-debate format on its head and shake it until something happens, no holds barred," she continued.

The series launched last night at The Women's Library in London's Aldgate, with a panel made up of individuals who studied architecture before turning to another profession.

Turncoats debate competition
Turncoats founders Phineas Harper and Maria Smith

Harry Parr of food design studio Bompas and Parr and former Architectural Association president Crispin Kelly were among those who took part in the discussion, titled Quit Architecture Now.

Subjects covered throughout the rest of the discussions include community consultation, architecture and the middle class, ornament and women in architecture.

"Some people don't get it," said Harper. "We've had messages from angry architects who have mistaken our opening polemics as manifestos rather than provocations. They are to stimulate debate – they are not steaming mugs of truth."

Dezeen editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs will chair a session titled Vanity Publishing, which examines the magazine industry as a "sycophantic, vapid and naval gazing extension of the PR industry".

Turncoats debate competition
Dezeen editor-in-chief Marcus Fair

As media partners for the event, Dezeen is offering four readers the chance to win a pair of tickets to the debate of their choice. To find out more information about each session and to book tickets, visit the Turncoats website.

This competition has now closed. Winners will be selected at random and notified by email, and their names will be published at the top of this page. Dezeen competitions are international and entries are accepted from readers in any country.

Read on for more information and a full description of each event from the organisers:


Architectural debates are rubbish. We've all been there: a panel of similar designers with similar views taking it in turns to talk at length about their similar work - too polite, too deferential, too dull.

At best they are lukewarm love-ins, critically impotent, elitist and stuffy. Turncoats is a shot in the arm. A series of free debates will rugby tackle six fundamental issues facing contemporary practice with a playful and combative format designed to ferment open and critical discussion, turning conventional consensus on its head.

Quit Architecture Now – 12 November 2015

We all assume that to quit architecture is to fail. Yet the vast majority of those who stick it out are sucked into a world of disempowered subservience to big business. Becoming an architect squanders the creativity and energy of those who are attracted to study architecture in the first place, robbing society and the individual of their potential. There is a better way. We should all quit architecture before it's too late.

Consultation Con – 26 November 2015

Community consultation is meaningless vacuous tick-box bullshit. It has become a decoy that developers deploy to shove unwanted projects down the throats of an unconsenting public. Its cringeworthy language of community empowerment is just thinly veiled power moves and lazy spin. The profession, the public, and the built environment would be better off without it.

The Gender Agenda - date TBA

Women in architecture debates are conservative, traditionalist and infantilising. Widespread conflation of womanhood and parenthood coupled with the irresponsible propagation of flawed statistics has led to a cynical debate whose only use is as a vehicle to manufacture networking and commercial opportunities in the name of progress. It is time to call time on this crass crusade before a generation of young women are pushed into an anachronistic gender war that bears little relevance to their experience or values.

Ornament is crime is crime - date TBA

We are conditioned to believe that ornament is crime, that less is more. In fact this so-called wisdom stems not from deep human insights nor profound spiritual truths, but from age-old middle-class snobbery. It’s time to abolish the lies around ‘refinement’ and material lust. Within the constraints of contemporary practice, restrained ‘truth to materials’ only works for the wealthy - the normal-person's version is horrendous and depressing casting class divides in concrete. We must abolish this crude consensus before it irreparably wrecks the experiential and social richness of our environment.

Toss Posh Tosh - date TBA

Inline images 1Meritocracy is a myth. At every level architecture is carefully calibrated to covertly and overly privilege the middle class. Faced with declining authority we scrabble to blame architecture schools' detachment from practice, a rising consultant class and cultural devaluation of design but are unable to face up to the reality that our pampered posh profession is simply too privileged to engage with the real world. The struggle for a broader base of backgrounds is not just about architecture's cosmetic inclusivity - it is about its survival.