Appendix 1: Competition instructions to competing architects

Pages 125-126

Survey of London Monograph 17, County Hall. Originally published by Guild & School of Handicraft, London, 1991.

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APPENDIX I. County Hall: Terms of the Competition as set out in Instructions to Competing Architects and Replies to Competing Architects

These documents, which were issued to would-be competitors by the LCC, are reproduced in Alexander Koch's book, London County Council Hall Final Competition, a Special Number of British Competitions in Architecture, 1908. The following selection from the Instructions, and the Replies which amplified them, are here reproduced from Koch.

Instructions to Competing Architects

The London County Council, being desirous of erecting a new County Hall and Offices, has determined to invite architects to submit designs for the building which it is proposed to erect on a site bounded by the River Thames, Belvedere Road, Westminster Bridge, and the Council's works department offices and depot as shown on the accompanying block plan. (See Mr. Riley's suggested plan... [included in the Instructions, see fig.4 on page 21].)

1. The competition will be divided into two stages, viz.: (a) the preliminary; (b) the final. The preliminary stage will be open to architects of any nationality.

2. In the preliminary stage the professional assessors will select in private not less than ten, nor more than fifteen designs. The authors ... together with eight architects invited by the Council, will compete in the final stage.

4. The designs of the successful competitors will be returned on the completion of ... the preliminary stage, to enable their authors to compete in the final stage.

5. Each architect submitting a design for the final stage ... will receive an honorarium of two hundred guineas (£210).

6. [Deals with the appointment of Shaw and Riley as assessors for the preliminary stage.]

7. [Deals with the appointment of a third assessor to act only in the final stage] ... This assessor, who will be nominated by the competitors in the final stage ... will be required to give an undertaking that he did not participate in the preliminary stage....

8. It is the intention of the Council to assign to the author of the design placed first ... the work of carrying out his design, and the Council has decided that Mr. W. E. Riley, the official architect, shall have discretionary power in all matters relating to internal economy, building construction, and stability. The successful architect shall obtain all the information he requires upon the site, making the necessary estimates, preparing all the necessary sketches, working drawings, detail drawings and specifications, subject to the Council's approval in all matters which, in the opinion of the official architect, should be brought to it for decision ... [He] shall ... exercise in conjunction with the official architect, general and usual superintendence of works...

9. For these services the successful architect and the Council's official architect will be remunerated on the basis of the usual five per cent. on the total cost of the completed building ... this commission .. will be divisible between the two architects in the proportion of nine-tenths to the successful architect, and one-tenth to the Council's official architect.

12. A clerk of works or clerks of works will be employed to superintend the work at the expense of the Council. [W. H. Hookham was appointed clerk of works, assisted by A. H. Castle and W. B. Johnson.]

15. Designs will be excluded from the competition –

(a) If sent in after the time fixed for receiving the designs, etc.

(b) If considered by the assessors as not in strict accordance with the instructions.

(c) If they do not provide substantially the accommodation asked for.

(d) If the area shown exceeds the limits of the site.

(e) If the assessors should determine that the probable cost of the buildings will materially exceed the outlay stated.

(f) If any competitor attempts to make known his identity or to influence the decision personally, either through any member of the Council or the assessors.

16. The drawings submitted in the preliminary stage ... will be returned under seal to their respective authors after the award, and, with the exception of the assessors, no one else (pending the final award) will be permitted to see the drawings ... during the time they are in the keeping of the Council.

17. The successful competitors in the preliminary stage ... can amend or redraw their designs for the final stage....

18. Three calendar months will be allowed from the date the drawings are dispatched to the successful architects in which to complete their matured schemes, at the end of which time both the eight ... invited architects and those ... [successful] in the preliminary competition must deposit their final designs....

19. The accepted design will become the property of the Council, which reserves to itself the right of exhibiting the other designs sent in for the final stage of the competition....

NOTE. – The designs, etc., for the preliminary stage ... must be delivered to the Council on or before noon on Tuesday, 27th August, 1907.

24. The land edged green on block plan will be reclaimed foreshore. An embankment wall will be constructed by the Council ... Competitors will be required to include in their schemes a design for the superstructure of this embankment wall which is to be of granite....

27. A sketch plan of the proposed first floor is attached, which shows a suggested arrangement of the accommodation ... but it is to be regarded as merely a suggestion which competitors may modify in any way they desire.

28. A schedule of provisional requirements is included, giving the several departments to be accommodated, their approximate positions in the general scheme, the names and numbers of the rooms, etc., and their approximate areas....

30. In considering the designs, the greatest importance will be attached to simple and convenient planning, and it is essential that all parts of the building should be amply lighted. The construction is to be of fire-resisting material throughout.

33. The choice of materials to be used for the building will be left to the discretion of the competitors.

34. The sum of £850,000 is considered sufficient to provide a substantial structure suitable for the Council's purpose, exclusive of embankment superstructure....

35. The site will be covered with a concrete raft....

36. Each competitor must accompany his design by a short typewritten descriptive report ... giving all information that may be considered necessary ... to fully explain his design.

37. This report is to be accompanied by a typewritten schedule ... giving the areas of the accommodation apportioned to each department on each floor....

38. Open fire-places are to be provided in the principal rooms, in addition to which the whole of the building is to be heated by radiators. A system of mechanical ventilation is also to be provided....

40. The competitors are to tint the areas on each floor allocated to the various departments as shown in the schedule of tints indicated on the sketch plan....

41. Each plan is to have clearly marked thereon the areas of all the rooms, and also a schedule of the areas apportioned to each department in the bottom left hand corner.

42. Each design must be accompanied by a declaration, signed by the competitor, stating that the design is his own work, and that the drawings have been prepared under his own supervision, in his own offices, and by his own staff.... [Declaration to be enclosed in a sealed envelope supplied by the Council.]


List of drawings.

The whole of the drawings in the preliminary stage of the competition are to be drawn to a scale of 16 feet to 1 inch, with the exception of the site plan showing the block plan of the new building in relation to the immediate surroundings drawn to a scale of 40 feet to an inch.

Preliminary stage of the competition.

Plans of each floor, elevations of the three principal façades [the north front was not required], sections, one longitudinal, one cross through the building, showing internal courts, etc.

No perspective drawings are to be submitted in either stage of the competition.

Additional drawings for the final stage of the competition.

Sections through council chamber and main staircase. Scale 8 feet to 1 inch.

Detail of a portion of one of the façades. Scale 2 feet to 1 inch.

All the plans with the exception of the block plan to be drawn on paper 52 inches by 30 inches, and mounted on strainers with a 2 inch margin.

All the drawings sent in to be in dark brown or black ink, in line only and in geometrical projection, but the plans and sections should have the sectional parts filled in solid.

In elevations, no washes, shading or hatched shadows for the purpose of embellishment will be permitted other than flat washes in the openings.

Strict compliance with these restrictions will be enforced.


[Outline of agreements between the LCC and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners over lighting angles in Belvedere Road.]


[A long schedule of the accommodation to be provided. As regards the Members' accommodation this is surprisingly brief and general – almost vague, but very detailed and exacting as regards departmental requirements, giving rise to the impression that the convenience of the officers rather than that of the Members was the prime consideration in planning the building. A total of 389,652 square feet was called for, of which 16,000 was for the 'general use of members'. This did not, of course, include Council Chamber, meeting rooms and offices.]

Replies to Competing Architects.

18th May, 1907.

To form part of the Instructions issued in February, 1907.

29. Is the number of floors fixed by the Superintending Architect? – The number of floors will probably depend on the planning.

50. Is accommodation to be provided on every floor for charwomen, and if so, is such accommodation to include w.c.'s, &c.? – Yes. W.c.'s for charwomen are not required on every floor, but such provision should be made near charwomen's common room.

58. Is it necessary to provide a general dining-room or other dining-room with necessary kitchen, &c., for use of members and staff, and if so, are they to be separate? – Provision should be made to seat a maximum of approximately 500 of staff ... Any space for general use of members (dining or other) should be separate from that for the staff. It is to be provided within the 16,000 square ft. for general use of members.

60. The plans seem to imply that the main entrance for the Councillors is from Belvedere Road. Is any provision to be made for their carriages and motor-cars? – The position of the main entrance is left at this stage to the discretion of the competitors. It would be advisable to make provision for vehicular access to Main Entrance.

63. Should there be a smoking room for gentlemen and a retiring room for ladies besides the necessary cloak rooms? – The area for these rooms is included in the 16,000 square ft. for use of members.

81. May steps and landings to the water level project beyond the face of the Embankment wall? – It is undesirable that there should be any projection beyond line of Embankment wall marked on plan.

84. Will the new terrace formed by the reclamation of the foreshore be for the use of the public, or only for the members and employees of the County Council? – Pedestrian access for the public to the Embankment should be provided. The "Members' terrace" within the plan is intended for representatives only.

95. Is the library for reference purposes only, or will it be used as members' reading-room? – There is to be a readingroom as well as a library, and the areas at this stage are left to the discretion of the competitors....

112. Will the public be admitted to committees? – No, except by invitation of the committee.