The evocatively titled Past Forward is a competition devised by guest curator Adrian Lahoud, through Think Space — a web-based platform for conceptual ideas operating under an annual theme. The competition, open to practitioners and students in architecture or other associated fields, raises certain disciplinary questions through revisiting specific canonical architectural projects over the last thirty years: Zaha Hadid Architect's The Peak Leisure Club (Hong Kong, 1983); FOA's Yokohama Port Terminal (Yokohama, 1994); and Diller Scofidio + Renfro's Blur Building (Yverdon-les-Bains, 1999). The project selection is calculated and premeditated. Each project was itself won via competition, and each resulted in significant disciplinary resonance in technological, infrastructural and critical terms, with projects that presented new attitudes to the ground, surface and atmosphere.
The brief for the competition is straightforward upon initial consideration: to design a project on a site of a notable, architecturally-significant building using the same competition brief as the previous winning entrant; but its subconscious layering lurks just below the surface. It seems that what Past Forward asks of its entrants is not merely a competition entry, but the initiation of architectural debate. It does not announce solutions, nor aspire to. Instead, the brief surreptitiously reveals the current conceit of the architectural profession. Entrants are tantalized by the prospect of designing or redesigning a project by a recognizable architect — a classic catch-22 whereby the entrant has to choose to return to or ignore these "singular moments of disciplinary transformation". It is quite probable that what will prevail from this competition is repetition in a guise, and it could lead to some form of ideological or aesthetic mimicry. But the new entrants could also propel the project into unchartered territory.
The competition is more of a call-to-arms than a meek attempt at producing vacuous renderings with no technical possibilities