Green Winners in Canada's Governor General's Awards for Architecture


Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research

"The creations of the twelve recipients of the Governor General's Medal in Architecture make us appreciate the degree to which Canadian architects have transformed the places where we live, work, share culture and come together into a celebration of beauty and human genius."

So said Michaëlle Jean, the Governor General of Canada, about this year's G-Gs, Canada's most prestigious architectural prize, chosen by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts. Quite a few of the projects have a green tinge and some have been in TreeHugger before.


Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research, University of Toronto
architectsAlliance (Toronto, ON) & Behnisch Architekten (Stuttgart, Germany) — Lead Design Architects: Peter Clewes, MRAIC, Adrian DiCastri, and Stefan Behnisch

"The mix of amenity, flexibility and spatial connectivity, the "cool factor" of advanced sustainable design features, and the commitment to innovation implicit in a sophisticated contemporary architecture will enable the University to draw the world's best and brightest research minds to the TDCCBR."

It is also full of sophisticated green ventilation systems and a double-walled south facade. ArchNewsNow:


Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre

Hotson Bakker Boniface Haden Architects (Vancouver, BC)

"This very strong yet entirely discreet cultural centre becomes a site museum — one which innovatively re-presents the locale's desert earth in the form of an insulating rammed-earth wall. Although very large, the chameleon-like wall defines an ambiguous threshold between landscape and building and positions the partially buried auditorium and exhibition room with strategic orientation. These intimate spaces seem to be defined by a tamed earth and sky rather than walls and ceilings."

Seen on TreeHugger here- great use of rammed earth.


New Canadian War Museum

Moriyama & Teshima Architects (Toronto, ON) / Griffiths Rankin Cook Architects (Ottawa, ON): in joint venture

"This is a building for war that conveys a sense of peace. Light and water offer a sense of tranquility to the darkness and solitude of the "trenches" while the mass of the building has a discrete rather than triumphant presence in the landscape. As a form of land art, unusual geometries are articulated with a trueness of material, inside and out, that lend themselves to a brutal yet sculptural honesty. The result is an evocative and introspective architecture."

It also has a great green roof, seen in TreeHugger here.


House at 4a Wychwood Park
Ian MacDonald Architect Inc. (Toronto, ON)

"This house gives the split-level bungalow type a whole new meaning. The strategy seems to erode and intertwine the domestic structure of street frontage, back yard and neighbouring setbacks within the modest volume of a vintage bungalow, where spaces are brilliantly mined from the site rather than added to the structure. The result is a sequence of compact indoor and outdoor "rooms" that unexpectedly unravel into exquisite grand moments of expansion."


It was a not very pretty 50's bungalow that somehow got jammed into Wychwood Park, an historic arts-and-craft style enclave in Toronto. I tried to buy it many years ago but didn't have the nerve, or the talent to design like Ian McDonald. It proves that you don't have to blow everything away and start over, but that in the hands of a talented designer any sows ear can be turned into a silk purse.


More G-G winners here

All pictures by Tom Arban courtesy of the RAIC.

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