Manitoba architects represent Canada in Venice

Left: A Canada Pavilion, designed by BBPR architects in 1958. Right: A conceptual sectional rendering of Migrating Landscapes Organizer’s (MLO’s) exhibition framework/landscape in the Canada Pavilion in Venice. Image courtesy MLO.

“Migrating Landscapes,” a project by Winnipeg firm, 5468796 Architecture, has been selected to represent Canada at the 2012 Venice Biennale in Architecture.

A representative of Migrating Landscapes Organizer (MLO) told Construction Canada Online the team is incredibly excited to realize the project at the famous event, which takes place from August to November, 2012.

“It has the potential to make architecture accessible to the Canadian public and to generate new energy within Canada’s architectural community by showcasing the work of our youngest generation of architects and designers.”

The project will examine how Canadians express diverse cultural memories in the way society lives and builds. It was inspired by the individual experiences of MLO, consisting of 5468796’s Johanna Hurme (born in Finland) and Sasa Radulovic (born in the former Yugoslavia), and University of Manitoba Faculty of Architecture’s Jae-Sung Chon (born in South Korea). All are first-generation immigrants who had unsettling encounters with the Canadian landscape and built environment as they settled into their new homes and lifestyles.

Although “Migrating Landscapes” originates with their personal experiences, the MLO team believes most Canadians share similar experiences.

“Whether first, second, third, or more generation Canadian, each of us brings unique memories and ways of living from around the globe,” the group said. “As we settle into unfamiliar landscapes and architectural contexts, our ideas on house and home are modified and transformed. As a result, we create new forms of dwelling and alter the landscape in ways that resonate with both local conditions and personal cultural memory.”

MLO explained the project addresses architectural topics relevant to the entire Canadian public—experiences of immigration/migration, cultural heritage, and the process of ‘unsettling’ and ‘settling’ into a new landscape when one migrates. The project attempts to appeal to both architectural communities and the construction/manufacturing industries. It will act as a forum for architects and designers to investigate, provoke, document, and expose the unique manifestations of cultural memory that overlay Canada today. To do this, MLO will design the exhibition infrastructure—an abstract landscape—into the existing Canada Pavilion in Venice, and invite emerging Canadian architects and designers to respond to this ‘new landscape’ with original designs for dwellings, based on their own cultural memories. Each new piece of work—whether it is a house, a cabin, or a yurt—will deal with ideas of dwelling and settling on the land, and consequently will reveal a condition or state of Canada’s physical, social, or cultural environment.

“This exhibition has the potential to unleash wonderful energies,” said the Canada Council for the Arts committee. “It engages youth, registers new voices, and could refresh our own vision of Canadian architectural culture. It probes Canada’s social fabric as it takes on a concrete form, which makes for a sound, yet provocative offering to international debates on migration and shifting national identities.”

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