A Canadian design project to “stimulate” future Arctic architecture will be the national exhibition at the Venice Biennale. The winners of the Holcim Awards Gold 2011 for North America, Lateral Office, will represent Canada at the 2014 Venice Biennale in Architecture with Arctic Adaptations: Nunavut at 15 - an exhibition the firm has organized and curated.
As the Canadian province of Nunavut celebrates its 15th anniversary in 2014, Arctic Adaptations will present innovative architecture proposals rooted in Nunavut’s distinct land, climate and culture, reflecting local traditions of migration, mobility and seasonality. It will also explore how, in light of dramatic environmental, social and economic forces that are transforming the Arctic today, architecture might help nurture robust, prosperous and vibrant Northern communities.
The exhibition surveys a recent architectural past, a current urbanizing present and a projective near future of adaptive building techniques in Canada’s newest, largest and most northerly territory – Nunavut. While modernity often ignores the demands of “place” and the “local”, Nunavut offers little daylight and freezing temperatures, a unique place that seems to resist the global trends of modernization.
Principals at Lateral Office, Mason White and Lola Sheppard were the main authors of the Regional food-gathering nodes and logistics network project which won the Holcim Awards Gold 2011 for North America. The project was praised for its socio-architectural approach to overcoming the dependence of the Inuit community on expensive processed food products imported from the south. Lola Sheppard is also an Associate Professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Waterloo, Canada, and will be a member of the Holcim Awards jury for Region North America in 2014.
The five themes that constitute Arctic Adaptations at the Venice Biennale - northern health, recreation, housing, education and arts - will each be explored and realized by a single design team, its members drawn from a specific school of architecture, a Canadian architect’s office and a Nunavut-based organization. For the pavilion’s presentation on northern housing for example, White and Sheppard are striking a collaboration among the Nunavut Housing Corporation in Iqaluit, Yellowknife’s Pin/Taylor Architects and the University of British Columbia School of Architecture in Vancouver.
By using Nunavut as an example of a place able to be flexible in the face of modernity, the display explores the movement’s legacy within the contextual particularities of the region. The exhibition documents the area’s architectural history, describes the contemporary realities of life in its communities and examines the projected role of architecture in the future.
The exhibition environment is comprised of three integrated elements: soapstone carvings of little-known, but significant works of architecture; topographic models and photographs of each of the 25 communities in Nunavut, and; a series of 15 architecture models with integrated animations projecting a 15-year vision for addressing current challenges in access and delivery of housing, health, arts, education, and recreation. The exhibition illustrates how a modern Inuit culture continues to evolve and merge the traditional and the contemporary in unique and innovative ways. Can architecture, which has largely failed this region both technically and socially, be equally innovative and adaptive?
“Arctic Adaptations” was awarded an honorable mention at the Biennale Awards Ceremony with judges praising the design for “its in-depth study of how modernity adapts to a unique climatic condition and a local minority culture”. In response, Lola Sheppard commented: “This award is important because it highlights the key role that architecture has played and could play in the future, in a region where architecture and urbanism have been largely overlooked, except as tools of colonization. The exhibition celebrates the remarkable resilience, adaptability and innovative nature of Inuit culture, one able to bridge tradition and modernity in remarkable ways. To have this work internationally recognized is fantastic”.See more
Lateral Office represented by Lola Sheppard received a Global Holcim Awards Finalist 2012 certificate for the “Regional food-gathering nodes and logistics network” at a sustainable development forum held at the University of Toronto.
The Global Holcim Awards Finalist 2012 certificate was presented to Lola Sheppard by Nick Caccavella and Bill Galloway, both Senior Vice Presidents at Holcim Canada. The socio-architectural project to create an Arctic Food Network (AFN) in Canada’s high arctic territory of Nunavut is a model to overcome the dependence of the Inuit community on expensive processed food products imported from the south.
The project was already winner of the Holcim Awards Gold 2011 for North America, and was praised by the jury for bringing an overlooked issue to the table, and providing a stunning solution with an impressive value-added return on the resources invested. The entire strategy up to the design was considered exemplary for responding to the landscape, climatic and site conditions, and including purposeful interventions which are integrated without any grand gestures or expensive structures.
Sustainability, Durability, and Design: The Future of Building Envelope was co-organized by the University of Toronto Department of Civil Engineering and John H Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design and Holcim Canada. The forum held on April 30, 2013 is planned to be the first in a series of Holcim & University of Toronto Sustainable Development Forums. The forum brought together more than 120 professionals from engineering, architecture, planning, development and academia to discuss how urbanization is driving development and how to address efficiency needs in both new construction and existing stocks of older buildings.
Project main author Lola Sheppard will be a member of the next Holcim Awards jury for North America in 2014. She is Partner at Lateral Office, based in Toronto, Canada, and in addition, Associate Professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Waterloo, in Waterloo, ON, Canada, and Director of InfraNet Lab, a non-profit research collective, founded in 2008, which probes the spatial by-products of contemporary resource logistics.
The 4th Holcim Awards competition is currently open for entries, celebrating projects and visions that contribute to a more sustainable built environment and featuring total prize money of USD 2 million. The competition is open for projects in architecture, building and civil engineering, landscape and urban design, materials, products and construction technologies that contribute to the five “target issues” for sustainable construction. The jury will meet in July 2014 with results announced in late 2014.See more
The projects that received Holcim Awards Gold, Silver, or Bronze in each of the five regions of the world were automatically qualified to compete for the Global Holcim Awards 2012. The more extensive submission on the Regional food-gathering nodes and logistics network for the global phase of the competition can be found here:
A socio-architectural project to create regional food-gathering nodes and a logistics network in Canada’s high arctic territory won the top prize for North America of USD 100,000. The Arctic Food Network (AFN) secures mobility between the scattered Inuit communities, allows a better distribution of local foods, and serves as a series of bases for the reinforcement of traditional hunting. The infrastructure project by Lateral Office based in Toronto, Ontario, and Princeton, New Jersey, also establishes new foundations for a sustainable, more independent economy.
AFN looks at the roles and challenges of the public realm, landscape and infrastructure in the Canadian North, and envisions a model of architecture and infrastructure that is geographically scalable, environmentally responsive, and programmatically multivalent.Read full media release – Holcim Awards 2011 for North America »
The jury praised the project for bringing an overlooked issue to the table, and providing a stunning solution with an impressive value-added return on the resources invested. An attentive contextual response is demonstrated in all dimensions of the project, based upon thorough research and the participation of the community. The entire strategy up to the design responds to the landscape, climatic and site conditions, and includes purposeful interventions which are integrated without any grand gestures or expensive structures.
Instead they bridge between the traditions of the Inuit and the expectations of the young generation thereby providing an opportunity to create an improved future. The project is also highly transferable to other arctic regions; and its basis in terms of overall attitude and mood has even broader applicability.
This socio-architectural project to create an Arctic Food Network (AFN) in Canada’s high arctic territory of Nunavut is a model to overcome the dependence of the Inuit community on expensive processed food products imported from the south. These foods have compromised the traditional diet centered on hunting and gathering of food provided by nature across a yearly cycle.
The project responds to thorough research on the poor living conditions and health of the Inuit, and on the calendars, regional ecologies and transportation networks that are highly influenced by nature and tradition in these specific and extreme climatic and geographical conditions. The project intends to secure mobility between the scattered Inuit communities, allow a better distribution of local foods and serve as a series of bases for the reinforcement of traditional hunting – while also establishing new foundations for a sustainable, more independent economy. Snowmobiles using their pre-existing trails provide the only feasible form of ground connection.
To accomplish this network, a series of small hub facilities is introduced along the tracks, acknowledging the Inuit tradition of temporary enclosure in a cold climate. These multi-functional structures provide shelter but also act as data transmission centers, ecological management stations, and cultural centers which help to integrate the Inuit community internally and externally.
The modest structures respond to local conditions, whether the site is on land, water/ice or the tidal fringe. Construction is based upon easy-to-assemble modules that also utilize abundant materials on site: rock aggregate and snow/ice.Download project entry poster (PDF, 2.11 MB) »See more
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