159 competitions documented 413 competitions listed
4 557 projects 43 122 documents

Towards a canadian tectonic ?

by Jean-Pierre Chupin , published 2007-09-01
Patkau's winning submission for the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery (1986) is one of those architectures that sounded the end of the 60s monolithic modernity, as well as the 80s dissonant postmodernism. Kenneth Frampton recognized early on that the Patkau's architecture was the sign of a new tectonic culture…

As a reminder, this competition was organized by Larry Wayne Richards and the jury composition accounted for three solid architectural personalities: Kenneth Frampton, Eberhard Zeidler and Dan Hanganu (thus 3 architects out of a 5-member panel: if I'm correct this represents a good way to achieve the sought after 50%, still troublesome for many competition organisers!) Brian Carter's monography (T.U.N.S., 1992), already gave a very good account of this exemplary competition. Today, thanks to the collaboration of the Patkau and Diamond Schmitt firms, we are pleased to offer some extra documentation and furthermore, during this “back to school” period, some food for thoughts on the originality of a “Canadian” poetics of construction. In this era of digital dematerialisation and of environmental anxiety, we should appreciate the finesse and appropriateness of the details and materials presented in Patkau's dark and massive models. Some recently disclosed drawings reinforce the models, and the final outcome confirms it: the carpentry operates the link between these fragments that are held together uniquely by the threads of a skilful composition. It is not merely an artistic pavilion elegantly set on undisturbed ground. It is emergence, a sudden appearance of an architecture operating the fragile encounter of concrete, brick and wood. Who said that we needed more intelligence and less concrete? Those that associate “concrete” and architecture – when criticizing the depletion of allocated finances – should bring closer together the project of the Patkau with Montreal-based Atelier TAG's 2001 competition Châteauguay Library winning entry. This is a good way to initiate the understanding of a new coherent tectonic of the “concrete/spatial refinement/urban insertion” equation which has been brought to light in Canada over the past two decades.

On another subject, we can already announce that in the following months we will be presenting the projects submitted for both the Félix-Leclerc Library and the ‘îlot des Palais' competitions. This could not be possible without the collaboration of Professor Jacques White, newly appointed director of the Université Laval's school of architecture, and also professional advisor for recent cultural contests. Furthermore, the Toronto-based agency, Urban Strategies, has generously shared their archives pertaining to numerous events organised in Ontario over the past decade. During the summer months, we have worked on the documentation of many too-quickly forgotten competitions and will have the pleasure of revealing certain hidden documents before the end of 2007.

Detail of interest: the CCC's documentation database is now located on a new server and it was deemed opportune to include a new feature on the main page: this is a selection of Canadian and international competition announcements allowing us to promote (to students and young architects in particular) the participation to the challenges of potential architecture and the tectonic displacement of ideas.
IMPORTANT NOTICE : Unless otherwise indicated, photographs of buildings and projects are from professional or institutional archives. All reproduction is prohibited unless authorized by the architects, designers, office managers, consortiums or archives centers concerned. The researchers of the Research Chair on Competitions and Contemporary Practices in Architecture are not held responsible for any omissions or inaccuracies, but appreciate all comments and pertinent information that will permit necessary modifications during future updates.
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