The Forks Renewal Corporation has launched an ideas competition for the redevelopment of Israel Asper Way from a four-lane roadway into a unique public space. The project will be known as Railside Promenade, a key component for the Railside at The Forks plan. Railside is planned to become a vibrant mixed-use residential development located at The Forks in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
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?
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:
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.
Lateral Office'sArctic 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.
Capturing the spirit of the annual Warming Huts design competition, Paris and Barcelona-based architecture firm Kilometrezero, or KM(0), has developed this conceptual project for a warming hut in Winnipeg. Fondly referred to as the "Valentine's Day concept" and aptly named KM(3) – Warming Heart, the project is intended as an inviting space for visitors to escape the winter chill between sports activities, and a symbolic structure that visually evokes the idea of warmth.
A “blind” jury has announced the 2015 winners of the international Warming Huts competition. Selected from 100 entries, two winning “shelter” designs and one “installation” design were awarded. Each winning proposal will be constructed in January alongside the longest naturally frozen skating trail in the world: the Red River Mutual Rivertrail in Winnipeg, Canada. More about the winning designs, and four other highlighted proposals, after the break.
In an article for The Walrus, Adele Weder examines Antoine Predock's (who was recently made a National Academy Academician) Canadian Museum for Human Rights: a "colossal, twelve-storey mountain of concrete and stone, 120,000 square feet of tempered glass, and 260,000 square feet of floor space." Early advocates of the museum "felt that Winnipeg was ripe for such a statement piece," just as Bilbao had been for the Guggenheim. Welder's explorations are clear and concise, finding all sorts "of paradoxes swirling around the Museum for Human Rights." Noting that "it’s definitely a kick-ass building, with its aggressive outer form, jagged paths inside, big black slabs of basalt, thick sheets of glass, and the huge metal girders that hold it all together," Weder argues that it's position as a "failed memorial and white elephant" may be it's eventual undoing.
UK architects OS31 have recently won a competition to design RAW:almond, “the first ever outdoor dining restaurant on a frozen body of water.” The temporary restaurant has set up for business in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada for the last two years, and for 2015 the organizers held an international open competition for the winning design. This year’s design establishes itself as an expressive frame that appears to float across the ice like a frozen jetty. Learn more about the winning proposal after the break.