Competition-winning design of Canadian Canoe Museum unveiled

Image courtesy of the Canadian Canoe Museum. Visualization by Luxigon
Image courtesy of the Canadian Canoe Museum. Visualization by Luxigon

Dublin’s heneghan peng architects, in joint venture with Toronto’s Kearns Mancini Architects, unveiled their competition-winning design for the new Canadian Canoe Museum (CCM) at the water’s edge in Peterborough at a public presentation on May 26.

The Irish-Canadian team won the international architectural design competition for The CCM’s redevelopment at the Peterborough Lift Lock National Historic Site on the Trent-Severn Waterway. The team’s serpentine glass pavilion and two-acre rooftop garden was chosen as part of the two-stage competition to house the world’s largest collection of canoes, kayaks and paddled watercraft. The first stage of the competition garnered close to 100 submissions.

“The strengths of this design are its simplicity and its sophistication,” says Lisa Rochon, chair of the Architect Selection Committee and Senior Fellow, Global Cities Institute, University of Toronto. “It breaks with ego-driven architecture to offer a gentle, organic space that poetically winds its way along the Trent-Severn.”

The new CCM was envisioned with and for its community. The design boldly curves out from the drumlins beside the Trent-Severn and embraces Aboriginal wisdom to live and build lightly on the land.

“We wanted to design a museum that would allow views of the water from every location. Its long, undulating façade increases the extent of frontage between the building and the water,” said heneghan peng director Roisin Heneghan in an interview with Canadian Architect. “For visitors, this is very important as the canoe exhibits are now being seen in a water-based context.”

“The design of the building is also derived for a close and respectful analysis of the site and an understanding of nature,” she said. “We believe that the canoe emerged from a deep understanding of the place, available materials and water navigation in Canada. So we think that the museum shares an ethos with the canoe.”

In addition to the new Palestinian Museum, heneghan peng architects designed the Grand Egyptian Museum, currently under construction in Giza at the foot of the pyramids, and the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Center in Northern Ireland at the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kearns Mancini’s work includes dynamic university buildings in Canada as well as the award-winning Fort York Visitor Centre, with Patkau Architects, that inserts a powerful Cor-ten steel and glass volume below Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway.

“The new museum’s physical presence, and all that it represents for us as Canadians, is incredibly exciting,” said Bill Morris, chair, Board of Directors. “Like the work of the museum itself, this project is of national scope and significance.”