Canadian Inter-University Competition Print
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Friday, 12 November 2010 08:26

The 16th edition of the Interuniversity ‘Charrette’ in architecture, urban planning, design and landscape architecture has just ended on Wednesday evening with the naming of the award winners by the jury.

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Edited by Lynda Waggoner

The competition, held under the auspices of the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) and Montreal-based universities (Université de Montréal, UQÀM and McGill University), inpartnership with other Canadian universities, challenged students and interns by inviting them to reflect on issues and problematics in contemporary architecture, on the theme of “Making another city/stitching/connecting/sharing.”


The Award Winners


A tie resulted in the awarding of two first prizes, to a team of students from Carleton University composed of Benoît Lagacé, Adam Johnston, Jessica MacDonald, Cipriano Nolan, and Josh Armstrong, and to a team of two young UQAM graduate interns, Anik Poirier and Albane Guy. There were also two honourable mentions, for participants from McGill University and Université de Montréal


The Context


Students from Université de Montréal, McGill and Laval universities, UQÀM, Carleton University (Ottawa), and Ryerson University (Toronto) had to pit their ingenuity against one another from 4 to 7 November, 2010. Working in teams, they presented the jury with urban development proposals adapted to the borough of Montréal-Nord. The zone of study was the eastern part of Léger Boulevard, between Salk Avenue and Albert Hudon Boulevard.

With a distinct social and urban fabric, due as much to the ethnic and cultural diversity of its residents as to the obvious disconnect between the urban landscape and its boundaries, this north-eastern part of the city – where small-scale elements seem to dominate – is home to the borough’s poorest households and is one of Montréal’s most densely populated areas. As such, it represented an interesting challenge.

That was the context of the Charrette competitors’ mission of seeking alternatives to conventional approaches to planning and architecture by drawing inspiration from the term Alterotopia: “As much other spaces and spaces for the other, as spaces built and shared with others, with those who are different from ourselves but for whom we care.”


The Challenge


The participants were asked to consider two paradoxical critical observations as inspiration for the development of innovative ideas and proposals intended to spark a debate on the modern city. In a guest lecture at the CCA in 2008, Bernardo Secchi declared: “My experience tells me that we can have magnificent cities, in all aspects, without any remarkable architecture.” In addition, in his essay “Is the Urbanist able to design the spatial conditions of urbanity?” Denis Martouzet raises doubts about the ability of conventional planning to create more urbanity.

This thought exercise therefore comprised the invention and exploration of new methods and forms that bring about a truly different public space, based on several questions: Can the actions of architects, landscape architects, city planners and designers to shape the contemporary city be thought differently? Can one transform a nondescript space into a hospitable and inviting multisensory environment? Can one see the city differently by drawing it, scanning it, mapping it, walking it, or dreaming it? In the “dispersed city,” can we imagine improbable encounters between spaces separated by commercial, regulatory, or technical logic? How can one turn the strangeness of the city’s margins into raw material of a plan for a community in search of a new urban identity?


The Jury


Le jury, chaired by Hubert Pelletier, a partner in the architectural firm of Pelletier De Fontenay and the winner of a fellowship from the Architectural League of New York, was composed of Céline Poisson, professor, director of advanced studies in events design, school of Design, UQÀM; the Brazilian architect, planner, and sociologist Sonia Marquès; and Mouna Andraos, designer and co-winner of the 2010 Phyllis Lambert Design Montréal Grant. Until November 14, the projects created by the 49 competing teams will be exhibited in the mezzanine of the faculty of planning building (Pavillon de la Faculté d’aménagement) at Université de Montréal.


About The Tradition Of The Charrette


Now synonymous with an essential forum for young creators in the disciplines of design and planning, the notion of “charrette” goes back to the nineteenth century, when the École des Beaux-arts in Paris staged architecture competitions in which students had to complete projects with very tight deadlines. When those projects had to be turned in, the architects-to-be would race out of the studio clamouring for a charrette – a cart – to transport their work. As Émile Zola recounts in his novel L’OEuvre: “As soon as a cart appeared an uproar broke out. It was a quarter to nine, just enough time to get to the École.… Those who persisted in taking longer to finish a project were jostled, swept away. In less than five minutes, the cart was stacked high with everyone’s frames.” The word remained, and to this day the reference to participating students is that they are “en charrette.”



Last Updated on Friday, 12 November 2010 09:02