Canadian entry at Venice Biennale wins Special Mention award

The Jury of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia has awarded a Special Mention to Canada for the exhibition Arctic Adaptations: Nunavut at 15, organized by Lateral Office of Toronto. The project was selected from 68 national participants. It is also the first honour for a Canadian pavilion at the Architecture Biennale.

Embracing the Biennale theme “Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014 Arctic Adaptations looks at the evolving role of architecture in extreme climate and unique culture that defines Nunavut, Canada’s youngest and most northerly territory. The exhibition looks at the past 100 years through a series of soapstone carvings by Inuit artists illustrating important buildings; it presents the current context through a series of milled, bas-relief Corian models describing every community in Nunavut, paired with photographs taken within each community; and it projects forward 15 years, through a series of speculative projects looking at housing, health, education, arts and recreation typologies. A series of 15 ‘living models’ brought to life by time-based animations, hover in the exhibition space, describing proposals at territorial, community and architectural scales.

“This award is important because it highlights the key role that architecture has played and could play in the future, in a region where architecture and urbanism have been largely overlooked, except as tools of colonization. The exhibition brings together a remarkable team of students, architects, Nunavut organizations, Nunavut artists and amateur photographers, to document, reveal and speculate on the region’s future. The exhibition celebrates the remarkable resilience, adaptability and innovative nature of Inuit culture, one able to bridge tradition and modernity in remarkable ways. To have this work internationally recognized is fantastic,” says Lola Sheppard, principal of Lateral Office and one of the exhibition’s curators.

Arctic Adaptations was curated and designed by Lateral Office. Lighting, conceived with CS Design in Montreal and iGuzzini North America, evokes the dramatic horizon and long days and nights in the Arctic. Airport Railings in Toronto contributed to the exhibition fabrication.

After the Biennale, the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) will tour the exhibition across Canada, beginning with a display at the WAG, in the spring of 2015.