Lateral Office’s Arctic Adaptations exhibition, which was recognised with a Special Mention at the 2014 Venice Biennale, will travel make its debut in Canada at the Winnipeg Art Gallery this week before heading to Whitehouse, Vancouver, and Calgary. The exhibition “surveys a century of Arctic architecture, an urbanising present, and a projective near future of adaptive architecture in Nunavut” though interactive models, photography, and topographical maps of the twenty five communities of the area, as well as Inuit carvers’ scale models of some of the most recognised buildings in the territory. In addition, it proposes a future of adaptive and responsive architecture for Canada’s northern territories.
In the cities of the Arctic Circle, dramatic change is afoot. The region faces challenges most obviously from environmental change, but economic and cultural challenges also lie ahead, thanks to factors such as the decline of the mining and fishing industries that supported many of the Arctic’s settlements, and the rapid modernization among Northern indigenous communities. In an interesting article for Metropolis Magazine, Samuel Medina takes a long look at the architects and urbanists who are making a difference in a context where “Architecture can’t really survive” – from the SALT Festival which celebrates the culture of the Arctic communities, to the plan to move the entire city of Kiruna two miles to the East, the article is a fascinating look at the extreme architecture of this hostile region. Read the article in full here.
UPDATE: Our interview with Lateral Office is now up!
For this year’s Venice Biennale, the Canadian Pavilion explored the ways modernity was absorbed in the extreme environment of Nunavut, Canada. As Nunavut is the newest, northernmost, and largest territory (with an area of over 2 million square kilometers) in Canada, Lateral Office hoped to shed on light on what Mason White called “modernity at an edge.” Wowing the jury with their research and design, Arctic Adaptaptions: Nunavut at 15 garnered Mason White, Lola Sheppard, Matthew Spremulli, and their team a Special Mention during Saturday’s awards ceremony.
The geographic and cultural “edgeness” of Nunavut is examined over different parts of the exhibition in three mediums: a recent past, a current present and a near future. Matthew Spremulli explained that Arctic Adaptions sought to “look beyond standards” to see how the fundamentals of architecture are impacted in an area like Nunavut. Given the specific and acutely unique challenges to building and designing in an environment that, understandably, resists being colonized by southern models, the curators presented a case for adaptation.
Biotope, a three-strong Norwegian practice based in the Arctic town of Varanger, have designed bird hides since 2009. For them, architecture is “a tool to protect and promote birds, wildlife and nature” – an approach reflected in their carefully crafted, environmentally integrated fragments of the ‘invisible’: small shelters that must blend into and be absorbed by their surroundings. Their diligent work has seen Varanger become established as one of the best birding destinations in Northern Europe and their unique design solutions are now being sought across Scandinavia.
The results from the first brief of Think Space‘s MONEY themed cycle of competitions, Territories, have been announced. David Garcia (MAP Architects), juror of the Territories competition, invited participants to send in proposals “that tackle the present economic and territorial challenges in the present and future of the Arctic lands.” See them all, after the break…
In the latest bid to solidify territorial claims within the Arctic Circle, Russia has unveiled plans to build a city for 5,000 year round residents 1,000 miles from the North Pole on the remote island Kotelniy in the Novosibirsk archipelago. Part of a strategic plan to assert its claim over the vast reserves of natural resources underneath the polar ice cap, the planned development will cost several billion dollars.
Continue reading after the break.