Domus names two Canadian studios among world’s top 50 firms

Winnipeg’s 5468796 Architecture and Toronto’s LAMA’s studio have been featured in the second edition of Domus Magazine’s 50 Best Architecture Firms list.

Assembled by architects and scholars who are former editors-in-chief of Domus, the list identifies the world’s 50 most creative emerging architecture practices.

Founded in 2007 in Winnipeg by Finnish-Canadian architect Johanna Hurme and the Bosnian-Canadian architect Sasa Radulovic, who were later joined by Canadian architect Colin Neufeld, Domus describes 5468796 Architecture’s designs as “Calvinistical figures.”

The firm’s rigour and conceptual simplicity shows affinity with several European architects from the preceding generation, such as Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron.

The Avenue on Portage. Photo courtesy of winnipegarchitecture.ca

Domus contributor Guido Musante writes that more than a few design experiments conducted by the Canadian office go beyond this affinity: “They contain an organismic bent for eccentric surprises with a neo-avant-gardist touch. ‘The Avenue on Portage’ building (Winnipeg, 2012) and its shimmery cantilevered balconies of polished aluminium are a felicitous miniature reinterpretation of
the jutting terraces premiered by MVRDV in Holland for the WoZoCo apartments.”

In 2018, Wei-Han Vivian Lee and James Macgillivray founded LAMAS Architecture in Toronto. According to Domus, the firm represents a trend among architects to distance themselves from the purely formal work that preceded them through the course of the past century, in order to concentrate on issues that are now central in architectural design.

Work by Lamas features experiments such as Hair, Spikes, Cattail, Turkeyfoot (2011), a construction model that combines two discordant techniques—a digitally cut weight-bearing structure in steel and traditional insulation in reeds—to produce a temporary pavilion in the botanical gardens of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Hair Spikes, Cattail, and Turkeyfoot. Photo courtesy of amas.us.

LAMAS is now turning an old A & P supermarket in Toronto into Avling Brewery by applying the existing shell solutions and technology borrowed from local agriculture. The magazine highlights the firm’s design of the Townships Farmhouse in Hatley, Quebec (2017), which redefines specificity under an approach devoid of formalism.

A typical Quebec homestead, found in these areas since the 
mid-20th-century, was repurposed to create a complex that optimizes the flow of people and livestock, while sheltering them from the wind.

“The cladding is salvaged wood from demolished barns, giving body to an organism that does not act on the physical characteristics of the material, but on architecture’s specific capacity of regeneration, creating a pure aesthetic,” says Musante.

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