Announcing the recipient of RAIC’s 2015 Emerging Architectural Practice Award: the 10-person Montreal collective KANVA

And then there were 10!

A Montreal multi-disciplinary firm that experiments with materials and building methods is the recipient of the 2015 Emerging Architectural Practice Award given by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC). Founded in 2003, KANVA is a 10-person collective led by Tudor Radulescu, MRAIC, and Rami Bebawi, MRAIC.

“This is a firm that is always looking to the future,” said the five-member jury that selected KANVA for the broad range and high quality of its projects. “The firm is continually and consistently innovative. Their work has a strong experimental quality. It demonstrates experience and knowledge of construction detail and quality.”

The award will be presented at a ceremony at the RAIC/AAA Festival of Architecture, which takes place in Calgary June 3-6.

Recently, KANVA won the 2015 Warming Huts competition in Winnipeg with an installation called “Recycling Words.” It was also co-winner of the international Space for Life architecture competition to re-imagine the Montreal Biodome, a museum of the environment.

The Emerging Architectural Practice Award recognizes the principals of an emerging architectural practice that has consistently produced distinguished architecture. The award recognizes the quality of built work, service to clients, innovations in practice and public recognition.

“The kind of work we see coming out of firms who win an Emerging Architectural Practice Award exhibits ability to innovate successfully and manage risk,” says RAIC president Sam Oboh, FRAIC. “Being innovative and evolving the scope of and approach to contemporary architectural practice in Canada is to be celebrated and recognized.”

At the Edison Residence, a student residence in a heritage district, KANVA experimented with photo engraving on concrete to create an unusual facade. It features stills from Thomas Edison’s 1901 film Montreal Fire Department on Runners, alluding to the 19th-century building that formerly occupied the site before it burnt down in a fire.

“Entre Les Rangs,” the firm’s winning entry for the 2013 Luminotherapy international competition in Montreal, referenced Quebec’s wheat fields in an installation comprised of thousands of flexible stems topped with white reflectors.

KANVA acts as an experimental laboratory for the advancement of building practices and material innovation, often building full-size mock-ups of one-off construction details.

The firm has received a number of awards, among them a 2013 RAIC Award of Excellence for Innovation in Architecture; multiple Grands Prix du Design and an Illuminating Engineering Society Award. KANVA’s projects have been featured in international publications, including the New York Times, Phaidon Atlas and Architecture Mouvement Continuité.

The principals act as mentors for the Order of Architects of Quebec, guest critics at McGill University and the University of Montreal and Master’s level thesis advisors. They were selected by the Quebec government to be mentors in the program “Models Without Borders,” connecting youth who are new to Canada with inspiring members of the community.

The jury was made up of:

• Peter Busby, FRAIC, past Gold medalist, San-Francisco-based architect

• Paule Boutin, AP/FIRAC, past president of the RAIC and Montreal architect

• Tyler Sharp, MRAIC, past recipient of the RAIC Young Architect Award and Toronto architect

• Siamak Hariri, FRAIC, Toronto architect

• Martin Houle, MIRAC, founder of and Montreal architect

“We are profoundly grateful to be the recipients of such an important national award,” Radulescu and Bebawi said in a statement. “If emergence means the capacity to push professional boundaries, ask critical questions and continually seek out opportunities for innovation and quality, then KANVA hopes always to be undergoing a process of emergence.”

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The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada is a voluntary national association, representing 4,800 members. The RAIC advocates for excellence in the built environment, works to demonstrate how design enhances the quality of life and promotes responsible architecture in addressing important issues of society.

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