June 2, 2006
by Canadian Architect
The Canadian Competitions Catalogue (CCC) is an interactive publication, under the direction of Jean-Pierre Chupin, that makes public an essential portion of its documentary database.
Devoted to the archiving, analysis and history of contemporary Canadian architecture, the catalogue is both a documentary database and an original search engine, one of the very few in Canada and in the world. Under permanent construction, with respect to both its contents and its consultation, it currently provides access to more that 4,000 reproductions of documents of architecture, landscape architecture and urbanism. The CCC is one of the few databases and research engines devoted entirely to competitions.
Each of these competitions has generated tens, and at times hundreds of projects. For example, the Mississauga City Hall Competition in 1981 produced nearly 250 projects; the competition held for the design of the Chteauguay Library in 2001 received approximately 60 proposals during its first stage; and finally, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in 2002 generated over 100 preliminary designs from architects worldwide.
Projects developed during architectural competitions represent a particularly unknown and neglected architectural heritage. They have a value well beyond their entry to the competition; they are examples of “potential architecture,” work that continues to influence the practice and transfer of ideas in ways that are often more influential than built projects themselves. By definition, the competition environment is rich in critical, reflective, innovative and bold proposals.
Thanks to the generosity of many architectural offices who graciously opened their professional archives to academic research, and to significant financial support from several sponsoring organizations, the Laboratoire d’tude de l’architecture potentielle de l’Universit de Montral (LEAP) team has been assembling information and documents pertaining to architectural, urban planning and landscape architectural competitions organized in Canada since 1945. Founded on the possibilities of comparative procedures, this long-term research project, of which the scientific, cultural, pedagogical and technological impacts are extensive, will also permit a better understanding of the phenomenon of competitions as well as the relationship between architectural practice and the various modes of cultural mediation. Competition projects offer a reflection on spatial and societal organization; they should also permit an enlightened and detailed comprehension of our cultural history.
Up to now, more than 30 competitions organized in Quebec have been documented and only a dozen from other provinces. In the near future, the Laboratoire d’tude de l’Architecture Potentielle will build a research network within the 10 canadian schools of architecture in order to ensure as complete a catalogue as possible.
To view the catalogue, please visit www.ccc.umontreal.ca/index.php?lang=en