No. 320 . 31 January 2007 
ArchitectureWeek
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Canadian Contemporary

by Andrew Gruft

Canadian architecture has always eschewed the dominance of formalism for more complex and integrated solutions reflecting its humanist concerns. The strong social-democratic trend of governmental supervision and community control in Canada influences architecture through a complex framework of programming, design guidelines, zoning by-laws, and building codes, within which designers must operate. Such a system is unlikely to allow stylistic concerns to override programmatic ones.

But this seems to have challenged rather than inhibited the imagination of architects and enriched their work with a multivalent layering of response to a broad range of demands. Such values form the underlying basis of a Canadian architecture that favors substance over spectacle, distinguishing itself from the work of many other nations now garnering attention in the architectural press.

The Bahen Centre

The Bahen Centre for Information Technology at the University of Toronto by Diamond + Schmitt Architects is about the size of a city block and involves dealing with equivalent complexity. It demonstrates clarity of organization and circulation critical for projects of this size, and a strong architectural expression that is varied but coherent within the overall unity of the project.   >>>

This article is excerpted from Substance over Spectacle: Contemporary Canadian Architecture by Andrew Gruft, with permission of the publisher, Arsenal Pulp Press.

 

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