David Chipperfield Architects and Toronto-based Zeidler Architecture, have won an international competition to transform the Block 2 parliamentary precinct, a 51,000 sqm redevelopment zone in downtown Ottawa, Canada. As a site with significant national importance, the project aims to not only provide facilities for democratic government and urban infrastructure, but also to represent the values of a nation and a vision for its sustainable and inclusive future. The project proposes a new public square alongside the main building and on axis with the Peace Tower, as well as an open space to promote dialogue between Parliamentarians, the community, and the wider public.
When choosing the winning project, the jury was looking for a design that best kept the heritage nature of the block, looking into different factors, such as how people will interact with these buildings 100 years from now, and how they intertwined with the Indigenous spaces. The winning design of what’s been called "the most prestigious property in Canada" pays tribute to the site's history and urban identity with copper-clad windows that serve as a subtle “tip of the hat” to the Parliament buildings it faces across Wellington Street.
Block 2 is located south of Canada's Gothic Revival Parliament Hill in downtown Ottawa, standing as the fourth side of the Parliamentary Lawn. The site encompasses eleven buildings of different scales and structural conditions, with several layers of heritage characteristics. The redesigned block will provide office space for the Senate and the House of Commons, a designated space for the Library of Parliament, as well as accommodation. The building will also include renovated retail space on the Sparks Street Mall.
Protection of the land and resources is a concept embedded in Indigenous culture, and is a tenet of good governance, sustainability and heritage conservation, so the basis of the design approach was to have minimal intervention and maximum retention for Block 2. Throughout the site, demolition was largely avoided, and new elements were designed to ensure circular economy. Recycled materials such as reclaimed copper were incorporated in the facade, with new materials designed for disassembly and future reuse. The development will be net zero for carbon emissions, incorporating a timber frame, highly insulated facades, and on-site renewable energy generation.
Across the block, historical structures are woven together with new low-carbon, efficient buildings to create a diverse unit, which is facilitated by a simple floorplan on both the east and west sides of the block. The six buildings of Block 2 East, which contains offices for the Senate of Canada and two large committee rooms, are connected by communal spaces and wintergardens. The five buildings of Block 2 West, which contain offices for Members of Parliament, are connected by the Garden Atrium, a covered courtyard that functions as a shared social space and thermal buffer to protect the existing buildings from the extreme Ottawa climate.
The final design is expected to be complete by fall of this year and construction should begin about 18 to 24 months after that.