Migrating Landscapes, a nationwide competition and exhibition series, is exploring the influence of migration and immigration on Canadian architects and designers. The Canadian competition for architects is organized and curated by 5468796 Architecture + Jae-Sung Chon. Team Canada will be selected at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and will represent that nation at the 13th annual Venice Biennale in Architecture from Aug. 29 to Nov. 25, 2012 and compete for the Golden Lion for Best National Participation.
“Even if it’s evident in our work, we aren’t aware of it, it’s not a conscious thing,” she said. “I’ve heard from many competitors that this is something that they really took the luxury of thinking about and trying to figure out what it means for each one of them.”
The exhibition will feature videos where each young entrant talks about how their personal experiences of migration have affected them as designers, together with architectural models of dwellings that reflect these experiences. The videos and models will be placed into a wooden exhibition infrastructure, representing an act of settling into a new landscape.
There were 120 project submissions across Canada.
Migrating Landscapes is organized and curated by 5468796 Architecture + Jae-Sung Chon. Hurme hopes the competition, which is aimed at architects and designers younger than age 45, will raise the profile of architecture in Canada.
“We understand architecture as being one of the primal modes of how we express our culture in our country. It isn’t just about art or dance or literature or poetry, but it’s also about what we build,” she said “That’s actually one very clear mode of culture.”
Hurme, who was born in Finland, said it’s hard to even determine what “Canadian” architecture is.
“It is based on this pluralism that really welcomes and celebrates differences and migration. That’s one of the basic things we as Canadians can export to the world.”
Added Chon: “What makes Canadian context different is its willing openness towards such condition, a resilient mechanism that takes such condition as opportunities rather than losses; a belief that something better can be forged within such condition.”
An Ontario jury made up of An Te Liu, Michael Moxam, Chris Pommer, Lisa Rochon and Brigitte Shim will select the regional winners, who will move on to a national competition and exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in March/April 2012. There, a high-profile national jury of Eleanor Bond, Ian Chodikoff, Anne Cormier, Bruce Kuwabara and John Patkau will select the architectural ‘Team Canada’ that will represent that nation at the 13th annual Venice Biennale in Architecture from Aug. 29 to Nov. 25, 2012 and compete for the coveted Golden Lion for Best National Participation.
The Venice Biennale in Architecture has been described as the “Olympics of Architecture”. Hurme hopes it will be a chance to really showcase Canada’s architecture talent.
“I think we have strengths that haven’t been well recognized,” she said.
Chon said it’s been very encouraging to receive so much support from outside of the profession.
“We hope this project opens up many more dialogues with the public in the future, strengthening the design-culture landscape in Canada.”
There will be “Speaker’s Corners” set up at the regional exhibitions where anyone can share their story about their migration background.
“Almost the second question anyone asks in Canada is what’s your family history or background,” explained Hurme. “We’re very interested in those migration stories because we’re trying to map out Canadian identity through the medium of architecture.”
The exhibition has already finished in Vancouver and Calgary and recently opened in Halifax and Montreal. The Ontario Regional Exhibition opens at the Allen Lambert Galleria in Brookfield Place in Toronto on Feb. 6 and runs until Feb. 24. Ontario regional winners as well as the People’s Choice winner will be announced at an exclusive VIP/Sponsor Gala Reception on Feb. 22.