We have been writing for a while that green roofs are changing architecture; in an interview last week Craig Dykers of Snohetta told me that they are now considered "the fifth facade." That's one of the reasons that the new Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough, Ontario, will be so interesting; it is being built into the escarpment beside the famous and wonderful Peterborough Lift Lock (covered in TreeHugger here) and blends right into the contours of the landscape.
According to the press release from the Museum, the design, by Irish architects Heneghan Peng and local architect Kearns Mancini...
...stood apart from the other submissions as the design works organically with the land rather than overwhelming it. In an era of climate change, its intelligence on sustainability impressed the design jury in many ways, not only for its geothermal heating/cooling and reduced energy costs. The embedded design has inherently lower operating costs with only the east and south glass walls exposed to the elements.
The architects are quoted in Dezeen: "The design works organically with the land rather than overwhelming it. The museum embraces aboriginal wisdom to live and build lightly on the land."
I know this site well, having rowed in the river above the lift lock and and had a fun ride in the lock, and the wonderful thing about this design is that it is one of the few buildings where people will actually be able to see that fifth facade, looking down from above. This rendering shows what will be a real, not a bird's eye, view. It is an understated and elegant design, and I agree with jury chair Lisa Rochon's description:
The museum design breaks with ego-driven architecture to offer a gentle, organic space that poetically winds its way along the Trent-Severn. No matter where you are inside the museum or outside standing on its roof, you will always be able to see the water, and a canoe waiting to be paddled by you. I can’t wait to see this museum built. It’s going to change the way we think about architecture, place making and the canoe - a true icon of design.
The canoe is perhaps the most elegant and minimal way to move on water, and it now is getting a museum that is elegant and minimal too. Something to look forward to.