Canadian Architect

Feature

Emerging Talent: Work/Shop

July 14, 2016
by Paige Magarrey

Michael Butterworth, Liane Veness, Kyle Wires-Munro. Photo by Kiex Fotography

Michael Butterworth, Liane Veness, Kyle Wires-Munro. Photo by Kiex Fotography

Work/Shop came about from a simple desire: “I needed to get out from behind the computer,” says founder Liane Veness. “As architects, we cannot become master of our profession until we learn how to build what we draw.” The hybrid office/shop/research lab that Veness now runs with the assistance of Kyle Wires Munro (the pair, both under 40, met working on the same team at a previous office) is often populated by clients stopping by for a hands-on look at progress on a project—“the chance to touch, see and smell different species of wood, for example,” says Veness.

Lunch Bell Bistro is located within Winnipeg’s Bell Hotel, which offers support for recovering addicts; the restaurant is run as a training facility for adults with disabilities. To counter the hard-edged stereotypes of the area, a warm, Baltic birch plywood ceiling casts a comforting blanket over the space. Photo by Michael Butterwoth

Lunch Bell Bistro is located within Winnipeg’s Bell Hotel, which offers support for recovering addicts; the restaurant is run as a training facility for adults with disabilities. To counter the hard-edged stereotypes of the area, a warm, Baltic birch plywood ceiling casts a comforting blanket over the space. Photo by Michael Butterwoth

In fact, wood plays a starring role in many of Work/Shop’s projects. Fiskaoist, a covered outdoor eating space in Gimli, Manitoba, was clad in reclaimed spruce and fir. The pint-sized shelter offers seating for 12 within a 12-square-metre space. The Lunch Bell Bistro in Winnipeg, for its part, features a dramatic ceiling made from Baltic birch plywood. “Architecture should strive to be a verb—as in ‘to build’ or ‘to make’—resituating the architect into the role of the builder or the maker,” says Veness. “In a world that is drowned out by technology and digital renderings, our approach honestly reflects our fundamental belief that buildings should remain situated in the material world.” Though the firm is already carving out (pun intended) its niche, it’s also exploring new opportunities: future plans range from workshops for architecture students to pop-up galleries for local artisans. “We love the idea of inviting the public behind the scenes of various building processes,” she says.