Architecture serves many essential functions in the fabric of the built environment, but it is the perpetual deficit of housing that some might argue is the field’s ultimate clarion call. In virtually every global city, growing populations and limited supplies of affordable dwellings are the major issues of twenty-first century life—and therefore are indications of the continued relevance of architecture in solving vexing urban predicaments. The last century offered early promise in addressing such issues with proposals to house the masses in immense slabs and box buildings, structures almost as large as their social ambition. But what became an asset of scale overlooked, or more probably misunderstood, the social degradation that such largeness elicited.
Aware of the fact that a one-size-fits-all approach to social housing rarely brings the desired outcomes of sociability, accountability, and community, Winnipeg’s 5468796 Architecture sought to reinvent the typology on a smaller scale. The outcome, a project in Winnipeg’s Central Park neighborhood known as Centre Village, is a 25-unit housing complex that prioritizes windows for observation and public spaces for socializing. Initially heralded as a beacon for public housing done right, the project was recently the target of vitriol in a Guardian article, claiming its secluded courtyard makes it "a magnet for drinking and drug-taking" and that its architectural vanity is to the detriment of apartment sizes and layouts. Subsequently, the Winnipeg Free Press published a response piece, "Building a better neighbourhood," and more recently on ArchDaily, 5468796 published a “letter-to-the-editor” to share their side of story and to dispel some of the negativity surrounding Centre Village. The myriad of perspectives can make you wonder: who’s right?
Lateral Office’s work follows its namesake, looking horizontally at problems and solutions across various fields. Exploring the intersections of systems, environment and architecture, the Canadian firm often situates its projects in unusual climatic and topographic conditions, finding ways to consolidate multi-disciplinary problems with multi-disciplinary solutions.
Lateral Office’s exhibit at the Chicago Architecture Biennial, “Making Camp” looks at strategies of city planning and adapts them to the wilderness, forming new typologies of the traditional campsite. Like their previous project, Arctic Adaptations (special mention at the Venice Biennale), “Making Camp” explores the way architecture can respond to, and take advantage of nature, simultaneously preserving and using the natural environment.
Eight practices from the US, Canada and Mexico have been selected to receive The Architectural League of New York’s 34th annual Emerging Voices award - one of the most coveted awards in North American architecture. Each recipient was selected for being a “distinct design voice” with the “potential to influence" disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, and urbanism.
“The 2016 ‘Voices,’ each responding to distinct geographic sites and typologies, all compellingly address the relationship between architecture and place by resourcefully synthesizing programmatic invention with computational production and the craft of building,” said Program Director Anne Rieselbach.
Dublin-based heneghan peng Architects has won a competition to design the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough, Ontario. Chosen over four other shortlisted proposals, heneghan peng's winning design "embraces aboriginal wisdom to live and build lightly on the land," says the Museum, by "organically" integrating an elongated glass pavilion topped with a two-acre rooftop garden alongside the Trent-Severn waterway.
The practice will work with local firm Kearns Mancini Architects to realize the $45-million building. It is planned to rise on the city's 1904 Peterborough Lift Lock National Historic Site by 2020 and house the world's largest collection of canoes and kayaks.
According to the jury, the heneghan peng/Kearns Mancini team "stood out from the other submissions as the design works organically with the land rather than overwhelming it."
On January 15, 2015, Allan Teramura, FRAIC, was named the 77th President of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC). The Ottawa architect is a principal at Watson MacEwen Teramura Architects, and has advocated for healthier, sustainable Aboriginal communities in Canada.
The challenges of designing social housing are complex. As Martha Thornerecently told the Guardian, "It’s not enough to make community space and say, ‘People are going to see each other’... Architects really have to understand the context from the client – the cultural context, to the bigger context, to the economics, to the future of the residents who’ll live there.” Speaking about Winnipeg's well intentioned Centre Village project designed by 5468796 Architecture, Thorne believes many of these challenges are new to architects.
Just five years old, Center Village was designed as a community-oriented micro village for 25 families in one of Canada's poorest urban areas. Since its establishment, the complex has become a hot bed for crime; courtyards are being used by vagrants as shelter from police, while large families try to make a life within the cramp quarters of each home.
EXTRACTION explores Canada’s “extractive industries and mineral lives,” delving into “the architectures, histories, and economies of Canada’s culture of resource extraction, to profile the rise of a ‘global resource empire’ where, in the words of revered political economist Harold Innis, ‘Canada has emerged as a political entity not in spite of its geography, but because of it.’”