2023 RAIC Awards: Kollectif
Winner of a 2023 RAIC Advocate for Architecture Award
Founded in 2006 by architect Martin Houle, Kollectif is a Québec-based entity that is a key resource for the province’s architectural community. The organization is currently run by Houle, along with journalist Marc-André Carignan and architect Grégory Taillon. Of note, Kollectif has always been—and still is—a part-time initiative, as all three have full-time jobs.
The core of Kollectif is as an online news platform, which gathers and distributes information on lectures, exhibition openings, award nominations, job openings, notable projects, and other news of interest to the province’s design community. To date, its website includes some 10,845 news items, with an average of 15 curated items posted each week over more than 15 years. In 2019, the platform was added to to Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ)’s list of key cultural heritage resources, affirming the value of the information it consolidates. Kollectif’s weekly newsletter and social media posts are seen as essential reading not only for architects, but also for those in allied design fields. Its articles have forged links between practising designers, researchers, academics, students, and an architecture-interested public.
As Kollectif’s profile has grown, it has also organized thematic roundtables, led open letters, and taken on its own content creation projects. With long-time video collaborators CC Lab, the online series Bienvenue Chez… visits the homes of architects in Québec, and the series Suivez le guide!, produced with the City of Québec, helps to raise public awareness of the built heritage in different Québec City neighbourhoods.
In 2021, Kollectif launched a two-phase campaign called #Quiestlarchitecte, underscoring the importance of naming architects and designers when discussing built work in the media. The public is invited to tag posts with #Quiestlarchitecte, #Quiestledesigner, #WhoIsTheArchitect, and #WhoIsTheDesigner when articles fail to identify the creators of buildings and other projects. On the surface, this simple gesture promotes design culture and encourages proper crediting. However, the long-term goal of this initiative is also to provide a tool to the architectural community to help ensure the accountability of professionals for their work. The campaign’s launch included a photo series of architects alongside recent public projects. The tag #Quiestlarchitecte has since also been adopted and promoted, with Kollectif’s permission, by Belgium’s national architectural association.
Kollectif has furthered its commitment to the architectural community as a lead organizer of an annual charitable golf tournament for Québec architects. Kollectif’s founding director, Martin Houle, has become the face of this event, which to date has raised over a quarter of a million dollars for academic institutions, cultural organizations and humanitarian organizations such as Architects Without Borders Québec.
Martin Houle was made an honorary member of the Association des architectes en pratique privée du Québec (AAPPQ) in 2015, and Kollectif’s cross-platform head of content, Marc-André Carignan, received the Association des architectes paysagistes du Québec’s Frederick-Todd Prize for landscape architecture advocacy in 2021.
Jury Comments: This outward-focused organization was conceived to spotlight, advocate for, promote, and raise the profile of architects both to the public and to one another. Through their various campaigns, they have played a unique role in the promotion of architectural practice across Québec, making it accessible to the public while connecting practices to each other. Kollectif’s commitment to EDI is demonstrated in their inclusion of a diversity of individuals and practices in their spotlights, while their generosity towards other educational, cultural, and humanitarian organizations, such as Architectes sans Frontières, was also noted by the jury.
Kollectif’s promotion and support of the local architecture community has become a vital resource that connects designers in conversation and empowers them with new ideas that promote innovation and elevate the quality of work within the profession. Their easy-to-consume and well-curated information, made accessible across different platforms, has effectively engaged Québec’s broader community, elevating awareness and appreciation for design in a way that should be seen as a model for the entire country.
The jury for this award included Brent Bellamy, Charles-Mathieu Brunelle, Michael Green, Jenn McArthur, Shallyn Murray, and Betsy Williamson.