Living in the city center
From Vancouver to Halifax, 118 master students from the 10 Canadian schools of architecture, and forming 35 teams, took part in the first phase of the first LEAP architectural competition. Of the 35, 15 selected and remunerated teams developed proposals to rethink and redefine social housing in the city center. These projects are now presented exclusively in the CCC and the winners are announced on the LEAP website.
This recent competition recalls «L'Art de vivre en ville», a competition launched in Montreal 15 years ago, and for which over a hundred projects were submitted. This competition, just as the LEAP competition, testifies of architects' interest in the rich and difficult program of social housing and of housing in general. The example of the Europan competition attests, at another scale (15000 proposals in 15 years), and in the context of late XXth century Europe, about the importance of housing from the point of view of creation and of typological innovation. It is in this spirit that the LEAP student competition «Rethinking and Redefining Social Housing in the City Center» was launched. As a matter of fact, it is framed within a vast research creation project financed by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada that considers social housing as a space for creation, innovation and criticism within Canadian city centers.
This ideas competition reveals the comprehension students in architecture have about student housing and it offers a journey «a mari usque ad marem» through the Canadian urban mosaic. If the competitors proposals show a certain naivety, and if they are not totally in sync with construction reality, they nevertheless remain intelligent, generous, and stimulating and our research team hopes that they will strongly contribute in stirring up architectural and urban debate which, in Canada, is much needed.
Considering social housing as a space propitious to creation, innovation and critique, next spring we will launch a second student competition.