Canadian Architect

Feature

Emerging Talent: MoDA

July 14, 2016
by Sarah Fletcher

Ben Klumper, Dustin Couzens, Cara Tretiak, Paul Mowatt, Larissa Schuler, John Ferguson, Nicky Gretzan, Ryan Cook, Max Seinini, Anthony Schmidt.

Ben Klumper, Dustin Couzens, Cara Tretiak, Paul Mowatt, Larissa Schuler, John Ferguson, Nicky Gretzan, Ryan Cook, Max Seinini, Anthony Schmidt.

When Dustin Couzens, 42, and Ben Klumper, 43, aren’t making buildings, they’re making music—and they say their creative process is similar for both. Instead of cultivating a recognizable style, the two designers are more interested in working with limitations to produce innovative new creations. “We like to look at very banal circumstances and make something special,” Couzens says. The pair initially honed their architectural skills at Calgary design firm McKinley Burkart, where Klumper was appointed director of architecture. Today, both are sessional instructors at the University of Calgary.

Junction 9 yoga studio was given a fresh look with a shapely screen of vertical fins, made of 100-year-old fir reclaimed from an abandoned Alberta granary. Photo by MHB PHOTO GRAF

Junction 9 yoga studio was given a fresh look with a shapely screen of vertical fins, made of 100-year-old fir reclaimed from an abandoned Alberta granary. Photo by MHB PHOTO GRAF

Their firm, MoDA, was established in 2013. It made local headlines with a low-cost redesign of yoga and pilates studio Junction 9, housed in a forgettable concrete-faced building. The owners wanted an attention-getting revamp that would capture the high energy of the brand and make it a local landmark. The duo was tasked with reanimating the façade, with just a foot of wiggle room, budget challenges, and limitations on disturbing heritage elements. The surprising and wonderfully effective solution: an impressively poetic, undulating fir screen of vertical planks that reaches skyward.