Tuesday, September 27

The College of Architects of Madrid appeals the tender of the City of Justice for breaching the new Law on Quality of Architecture

The Official Association of Architects of Madrid (COAM) has filed an administrative appeal against the tender opened by the Government of Isabel Díaz Ayuso to resume the macro-project of the City of Justice, an old idea of ​​Esperanza Aguirre that ended up mired in suspicions of corruption . The entity understands that the budget established by the Community of Madrid in the specifications is too limited for a complex of these characteristics and could breach the Architecture Quality Law.

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On August 17, 2022, the Administrative Court of Public Procurement (TACP) received the appeal filed by the association, as it appears in the file of the contracting portal, in which it requests “the entity, body or service that had processed” the tender that sends the documentation in a complete and orderly manner.

The tender was approved at the end of July by the Governing Council of the Community of Madrid. The objective, as explained at the time by the Minister for the Presidency, Justice and the Interior, Enrique López, is “to centralize the judicial buildings in a single, more modern headquarters that resolves space problems.” It is the same idea that Aguirre had in 2004 and that failed in 2009, leaving behind more than 100 million euros of public money in contracts investigated by the National High Court. Ignacio González took it up again in 2015, but the project failed again.

According to the specifications published by the Government of Ayuso, the winning company will have to take charge of the construction of the complex, with 17 buildings in which the 28 judicial offices that currently exist in the Community will be concentrated, for a value of more than 500 million euros, as well as its maintenance and management.

In exchange, the administration will pay a canon of 49.4 million euros -reviewable from the eighth year for a maximum price of 2.5%- for 40 years, and will transfer the operation of two of the buildings and a public car park of 1,900 seats. Also other spaces with non-judicial uses, such as a leisure and health sports center, cafeterias, a private nursery school, a boulevard area and other minor uses. This, López has said, “will allow the concessionaire to obtain profits outside the canon through its exploitation.” The contract will amount during those years to about 2,700 million euros.

These design and architectural quality criteria, however, must exceed 51% of the total, according to the new Architecture Quality Law, which came into force on June 14. A rule that the Community of Madrid does not mention nor in the specifications of particular administrative clauses nor in technical prescriptionspublished on July 27.

The prices that appear in the documentation, according to the COAM, are very limited to undertake a project of guaranteed architectural quality: about 1,200 euros per square meter above and about 500 below ground, without the profit percentage of the contract or taxes. The college’s calculations estimate that the price per square meter in a building of the highest architectural quality can amount to up to 5,000 euros, and in a complex such as the City of Justice it should be between 2,500 and 3,000. The price of construction of an official protection house would be around 1,000 euros per square meter. With this budget, it seems difficult for architects with much higher fees to attend, such as those that did appear in Aguirre’s initial project, which included buildings by prestigious architects and high fees, such as Zaha Hadid or Norman Foster.

“These are very fair prices for buildings that have to have architectural quality,” explained the deputy dean of the school, Pablo Olalquiaga, to this newspaper in a news article published at the beginning of August. “What these bases propose are functional criteria, but they do not at any time propose criteria by which good architecture is valued,” continued Olalquiaga. In the specifications, only technical questions appear, such as the number of offices or rooms that the buildings must have, exemplified the expert, but not another series of questions linked to design, such as the entrance of light, spaces or other questions that have their impact on the energy and environmental efficiency of buildings “and that have nothing to do with how much a machine consumes,” he clarified. “All those things that we appreciate when we enter a good building,” explained the architect.