Submitted by Reza Pourvaziry

The 2018 Governor General's Medals in Architecture across Canada

Canada - Jun 7, 2018 - 15:22   3822 views

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) has announced the Governor General’s Medals in Architecture in the hope to contribute to the development of the discipline and practice of architecture and raise public awareness of architecture as a vital cultural force in Canadian society. Medals are awarded for excellence in the art of architecture.

The jury considers elements such as conceptual clarity, compatibility with the site, detailing, innovation and uniqueness, and sustainable design. The 2018 competition continues a tradition initiated by the Massey Medals in 1950, providing an important source of understanding of the nature of Canadian architecture and the regional, cultural and historic forces expressed in the built environment.

Architecture awards have become a platform in the contemporary world for expressing and discovering new approaches to architecture, making clear standpoints re architecture based on theories and conceptual rationales and more importantly addressing world’s current issues. This award is, as state earlier, one of the most prestigious awards in architecture. In this article, a detailed information of the projects will provide a general picture of this award as well as introduce the recent winners.

The article will use this chance to reiterate some current heated issues in architecture. Firstly, a major matter that architecture is engaged in has to do with development and living resources. Architecture, especially progressive projects in architecture, has been trying to exploit these resources and make an appropriate stand concerning the outside world.

Some of the winners of the 2018 Governor General’s Medals in Architecture have been chosen for certain reasons. In the project “Maison de la litterature” which is an adhesion to a historical church as well as it has been fully restored for rehabilitation.

In the project “Casey House”, visitors can see that it tries to preserve living resources including urban resources by respecting and recognizing environment and history. Despite being located in a park-like area, the project, “Borden Park Pavilion” imposes the least burden and pressure on its environment by the use of mirror. Also, it uses this capacity not to move against its surroundings.

In the project “Stade de Soccer de Montreal”, an attempt has been made to exaggerate the values of the settings in total harmony with the context. This is an issue in the contemporary architecture. Therefore, this is the reason why all the winning projects put emphasis on living resources which consist of cities, environment and cultural heritage and history.

The jury has made an attempt to consider human values concerning ambitious solutions which are generally required for winning an award. As it is an award in architecture and all of these are architectural projects and for example not social manifestations under the framework of theories, naturally these approaches in expression of such subjects are not close to perfection, but it must be admitted that most of the winners have taken strides towards this goal. Now, it is imperative to briefly introduce each of these projects.

The winners were:

- Audain Art Museum, Whistler, BC, Patkau Architects

- Borden Park Pavilion, Edmonton, AB, gh3

- Casey House, Toronto, ON, Hariri Pontarini Architects

- Complexe Sportif Saint-Laurent, Montreal, QC, Saucier+Perrotte Architectes and HCMA

- Fort McMurray International Airport, Fort McMurray, AB, Office of mcfarlane biggar architects + designers (omb). The project commenced as predecessor firm mcfarlane green biggar Architecture + Design

- Fort York Visitor Centre, Toronto, ON, a joint venture between Patkau Architects and Kearns Mancini Architects

- Maison de la littérature, Quebec City, QC, Chevalier Morales Architectes

- Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace, Montreal, QC, Atelier TAG and Jodoin Lamarre Pratte Architectes in consortium

- Parallelogram House, East St. Paul, MB, 5468796 Architecture

- Rabbit Snare Gorge, Inverness, NS, Omar Gandhi Architect and Design Base 8 (NYC)

- Two Hulls House, Port Mouton, NS, MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects

- Stade de Soccer de Montréal, Montreal, QC, Saucier+Perrotte Architectes and HCMA

Stade de Soccer de Montréal, Montreal, QC, Saucier+Perrotte Architectes and HCMA. Image © Olivier Blouin

The project "Stade de Soccer de Montreal" has its own spatial features. Most importantly, it has a smooth and congruent presence in the middle of the nature. There is no imposition and it has been harmoniously accepted by the settings. 

Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace, Montreal, QC, Atelier TAG and Jodoin Lamarre Pratte Architectes in consortium. Image © Marc Cramer

The project "Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace" is an encouraging and motivating presence in the city and it is a spatial interpretation of a platform for urban events. Due to the restrictions in space, an attempt has been made to make use of the concept of full stairs so that it can guide visitors up to its height. 

As the comment of the jury correctly states this project, this material exchanges the quality of inside and outside and the presence of woods on all body of the building can leave a very valuable impression on visitors as they feel closer and feel more comfortable to communicate with the building with the fostered sense of trust. The aggregated divisions and its picture on the facade seem not to be a new attitude towards architecture.

Maison de la littérature, Quebec City, QC, Chevalier Morales Architectes. Image © Chevalier Morales architectes

There are many historical spaces which have failed to gain a contemporary functionality. They are part of living resources and are part of capacities of urban spaces which if not treated truly and deeply by the framework of an urban contemporary behavior, they cannot be considered a real capacity of the city. 

In the project "Maison Del la litterateur”, the modern space which has been created inside this church via an adhesion, it has become a totally functional space by the use of contemporary architecture which is a duty of architecture. The chosen color, white, has tried to provide an integrated space which can be found as an appropriate for use.

Complexe Sportif Saint-Laurent, Montreal, QC, Saucier+Perrotte Architectes and HCMA. Image © Olivier Blouin

The project "Complexe Sportif Saint Laurent", tries to convey the significance of the creation of harmony. It has used the context, the sky and pillow-like clouds which can be reflected in the opaque windows of the building, to provide this unique harmony. Even though it is not complicated, yet its simplicity is stunningly calm and it is based on an order which gives us a pleasant space. Perhaps, the contrast of white and black colors looks like an empty slogan.

Fort McMurray International Airport, Fort McMurray, AB, Office of mcfarlane biggar architects + designers (omb). Image © Ema Peter

The project "Fort McMurray International Airport" has some significant features. It can be seen that it is the architecture of space without form which has started recently is gaining popularity. It has a smooth geometry rather than a sculpture-like form which provides a robust, friendly and varied functionality. It is also very chic. Some of its interior perspectives are worthy minimalist yet are a self-confidence booster for this airport.

Rabbit Snare Gorge, Inverness, NS, Omar Gandhi Architect and Design Base 8 (NYC). Image © Doublespace Photography

In the project "Rabbit Snare Gorge", a motif of a house has been used. The typical meaning of a house is defined by the designer. It has a diverse yet strong architecture. The change in geometrical symmetries of the idea of a typical house creates a visual attraction.   

Fort York Visitor Centre, Toronto, ON, a joint venture between Patkau Architects and Kearns Mancini Architects. Image © Tom Arban Photography

As far as the project "Fort York Visitor Center" is concerned, it is basically important to make use of any urban spaces and free of the moulds which impose themselves on the environment, so neutral forms and with materials in harmony with the settings, it can be a good contribution the city. Cities are generally built and there are many spaces inside them that can be completely re-designed.  

Casey House, Toronto, ON, Hariri Pontarini Architects. Image © Hariri Pontarini Architects

In the project "Casey House", the most notable feature has to do with the connection between color and materials and the transformation from the classic form into a modern one. The composition of the whole building is a unified one. It is not disturbing and even it can be a peaceful. 

It gives a sense of hopefulness to the future and fosters it. It emphasizes the importance of historical buildings. It is a sweet emphasis. The combination of palette of color and materials which have been used in the modern section of the building is appropriate and it provides a special capacity for the building. The modern section takes the historical part in itself.

Audain Art Museum, Whistler, BC, Patkau Architects. Image © James Dow / Patkau Architects Inc.

The project "Audain Art Museum", the importance of this architecture is due to the new way it has designed the space. Part of its floor which extends into the nature indicates that it is a connector to corridor to the entry of the building. It gives an attractive invitation to the visitor.

Parallelogram House, East St. Paul, MB, 5468796 Architecture. Image © 5468796 Architecture

The project "Parallelogram House" is important due to the way it has used materials. It can be a notable project for the sculpture-like presence in the context.

Borden Park Pavilion, Edmonton, AB, gh3. Image © Raymond Chow (gh3)

In the project "Borden Park Pavilion", the smooth geometry of this project subtly puts the presence of a form in the settings. It does not carry any negative burden nor does it damage the surroundings. This is a dialogue between architecture and the natural or existing environment which has started in the past years. It is my conviction that it must be expanded, as it is a major solution for enhancing the quality of life.

Two Hulls House, Port Mouton, NS, MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects. Image © James Brittain

In the project "Two Hulls", even though it has some smooth and simple and sometimes attractive interior perspectives. 

The awards will be presented during a ceremony in Ottawa in the fall. The Governor General’s Medals in Architecture, created by the RAIC, contribute to the development of the discipline and practice of architecture and increase public awareness of architecture as a vital cultural force in Canadian society.

The 2018 jury members composed of David T. Fortin, MRAIC, Architect and Director, Laurentian University McEwen School of Architecture (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Sudbury, Ontario); Adele Weder, Hon. MRAIC, Editor 2017-18, Canadian Architect magazine (Vancouver, BC); Andrew Frontini, FRAIC, Design Director, Principal Perkins + Will (Toronto, ON); Andrea Wolff, FRAIC, Founding Partner, ARCHITEM Wolff Shapiro Kuskowski Architects (Montreal, QC); Róisín Heneghan; Founding Partner, Heneghan Peng Architects (Dublin, Ireland).

Top image: Audain Art Museum, Whistler, BC, Patkau Architects. Image © James Dow / Patkau Architects Inc. 

> via Royal Architectural Institute of Canada