'Foul play' call over design bids

By Chen Hong (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-04-03 07:25

Artistic renditions of the Seashell (left) and the Spring Cocoon, designs for the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. File photo

SHENZHEN: A decision by the local government here to drop the winning entry in a design contest for a multi-billion-yuan sports center has triggered cries of foul play, local media have reported.

The State Council has commissioned the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Construction to investigate the case, news reports said.

Three months after selecting the "Seashell", designed by China Architecture Design & Research Group, as the winner of an international design competition, the construction headquarters of the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center said on Monday it will instead proceed with the "Spring Cocoon" design, jointly created by Japanese architectural firm AXS Satow Inc and a Beijing design institute.

The headquarters said it is open to being investigated and denies any infringement of China's bidding law.

The Shenzhen government launched a bidding contest for the sports center, which will be a key venue for the 2011 Summer Universiade, in July.

Li Tairan, division chief of the city's planning authority, said "Spring Cocoon" was rated the best by 13 judges from home and abroad for its innovative design and efficient use of public space.

The "Seashell" came in third in terms of innovation, but was named best overall due to its low construction costs, shorter building time and good quality standards, he said.

However, following two additional appraisals after the result had been announced, the planning authority said it had decided to go ahead with the "Spring Cocoon" design, as problems regarding the construction of its steel structure - for which it had been marked down - could now be resolved, the Yangcheng Evening News said.

Although the cost to build the "Spring Cocoon" will be about 3 billion yuan ($427 million) - twice the price of the "Seashell" - it remains the preferred choice of city planners, the newspaper said.

Li Xinggang, the chief designer of the "Seashell" and also lead designer of Beijing's National Stadium - also known as the Bird's Nest - told reporters that he will not give up the fight to see his "winning" design used.

Lawyer Li Jun said the organizers of the design contest have violated bidding laws and that China Architecture Design & Research Group can lodge a complaint to the supervision department.

The sports stadium case follows a complaint in February by the owner of a lighting and audio company who said he was unfairly treated when trying to supply equipment for the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou.

Wang Ruixiang said even though he offered to supply the equipment free of charge the people organizing the bidding process turned him down.

The organizers told him they were seeking bids only from foreign companies.

In January, the Ministry of Finance said that domestic companies involved in bidding for government contracts that offer innovative products should be favored over foreign competition.

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