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5468796 Architecture's Response to The Guardian Over their "Failed" Social Housing Project

09:30 - 29 January, 2016
© James Brittain Photography
© James Brittain Photography

Early this month, The Guardian published a widely shared and debated article titled "Crime in the community: when 'designer' social housing goes wrong." The article told the story of Centre Village, a social housing project in Winnipeg designed by 5468796 Architecture and Cohlmeyer Architecture Limited, examining how noble intentions resulted in what they describe as "apartments poorly suited to family life, and a building structure that seems to act as a magnet for drinking and drug-taking at all hours."

Unsurprisingly 5468796 Architecture, who disagreed with much of the article's conclusions, wrote a response to the editor of Guardian Cities in the hope that their "letter to the editor" would provide some balance to the story. After The Guardian declined to publish the letter, the firm reached out to ArchDaily to ensure that their side of the debate was heard. Here is that letter in full.

We are writing to you in response to the Guardian article concerning Centre Village and many of the comments and re-posts over the last week. We believe the story that was published was inaccurate and provide the following for your information:

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When "Designer" Social Housing Goes Wrong: The Failures of Winnipeg's Center Village Project

14:00 - 5 January, 2016
Centre Village / 5468796 Architecture + Cohlmeyer Architecture Limited. Image © James Brittain Photography
Centre Village / 5468796 Architecture + Cohlmeyer Architecture Limited. Image © James Brittain Photography

The challenges of designing social housing are complex. As Martha Thorne recently 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.

youCUBE / 5468796 Architecture

09:00 - 20 July, 2015
© James Brittain
© James Brittain

© James Brittain © James Brittain © James Brittain © James Brittain +34

548 Stradbrook Condominiums / 5468796 Architecture

10:00 - 11 April, 2015
© James Brittain Photography
© James Brittain Photography

© James Brittain Photography © James Brittain Photography © James Brittain Photography © James Brittain Photography +17

Centre Village / 5468796 Architecture + Cohlmeyer Architecture Limited

01:00 - 9 June, 2013
© James Brittain Photography
© James Brittain Photography

© James Brittain Photography © James Brittain Photography © 5468796 Architecture © James Brittain Photography +24

The Old Market Square Stage / 5468796 Architecture

01:00 - 31 May, 2013
© James Brittain
© James Brittain
  • Architects

  • Location

    Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Architect in Charge

    5468796 Architecture
  • Area

    784.0 sqm
  • Project Year

    2010
  • Photographs

    James Brittain

© James Brittain © James Brittain © James Brittain © James Brittain +22

The Avenue on Portage / 5468796 Architecture

01:00 - 21 May, 2013
© James Brittain
© James Brittain

© James Brittain © James Brittain © James Brittain © James Brittain +21

‘Flying Saucer’ Condominium Proposal / 5468796 Architecture

01:00 - 28 April, 2013
© 5468796 Architecture
© 5468796 Architecture

Set for completion in 2014, Winnipeg’s “Flying Saucer” condominium project 62M, designed by Winnipeg-based studio 5468796 Architecture, will occupy the corner of MacDonald Avenue and Waterfront Drive, close to the Exchange District. Named after its address, 62M will be a two-storey, circular building lifted up on 35-foot stilts. Its circular design is spatially efficient and will provide each unit with a view. As a whole, the 360° plan provides the widest possible perimeter for glass with the smallest amount of exterior envelope to construct. More images and architects' description after the break.

Bloc_10 / 5468796 Architecture

18:00 - 1 October, 2012
© James Brittain
© James Brittain

© James Brittain © James Brittain © James Brittain © James Brittain +13

RAIC 2011 Awards of Excellence

08:43 - 19 April, 2011
OMS Stage / 5468796 Architecture © 5468796 Architecture
OMS Stage / 5468796 Architecture © 5468796 Architecture

The RAIC Awards of Excellence recognize distinction in the field of architecture. Awarded categories include Green Buildings and Innovation in Architecture as well as the Architectural Firm Award which was given to Montgomery Sisam Architects. Members of the jury included: Peter Busby, Teresa Coady, Stephen Pope for Green Buildings and Enzo Gardin, Dan Hanganu, Gregory Henriquez for Innovation in Architecture.

Recipients and Honorable Mentions for 2011 RAIC Awards of Excellence following the break.

Bohemier Residence / 5468796 Architecture + Cohlmeyer Architecture

01:00 - 6 March, 2011
© 5468796 Architecture Inc.
© 5468796 Architecture Inc.

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Webster Cottage / 5468796 Architecture

01:00 - 3 March, 2011
© 5468796 Architecture Inc.
© 5468796 Architecture Inc.

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OMS Stage / 5468796 Architecture

01:00 - 26 February, 2011
© 5468796 Architecture Inc.
© 5468796 Architecture Inc.

© 5468796 Architecture Inc. © 5468796 Architecture Inc. © 5468796 Architecture Inc. © 5468796 Architecture Inc. +12