Kollectif marks 15 year anniversary

The Quebec newsletter service was started by architect Martin Houle, who continues to run it as a side-project alongside his full-time work.

From left to right, Grégory Taillon, Marc-André Carignan, and Martin Houle, at Claude Cormier’s Place de l’Horloge in Montreal. Photo by Émilie Delorme / CC Lab

Kollectif. a free weekly newsletter dedicated to sharing industry news from the AED professions in the province of Quebec, is marking its 15th anniversary.

The newsletter was started by architect Martin Houle in July 2006, who continues to act as a quasi-volunteer in running the newsletter. He has since been joined by architectural journalist Marc-André Carignan and architect Grégory Taillon, who became collaborators in the Kollectif team in 2014 and 2019, respectively.

The newsletter disseminates industry announcements including information on events, exhibitions, competitions and projects in Quebec. It also maintains a job board and a directory of the 100 firms in Quebec whose work it follows. The newsletter has been archived with the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BanQ) since 2019.

Among Houle’s proudest accomplishments are Kollectif’s Architects Annual Golf Tournament, which brings together some 400 architects and has raised over a quarter of a million dollars for events, humanitarian and cultural associations, university programs and museums dedicated to architecture.

While Kollectif was originally intended to disseminate existing content, Carignan brought original content to it, by merging his blog with the platform and producing original photography and videos for it. Of particular note, Carignan spearheaded two architecture video series: “Bienvenue chez…” and “Suivez le guide…” focused on tours of architects’ houses and urban neighbourhoods. The City of Québec is supporting the launch of a second season of Suivez le Guide in 2022.

In the past two years, Kollectif also spearheaded a #quiestlarchitecte #whoisthearchitect photo and social media campaign to identify the authors of buildings. The program, now finishing its second season, has gained the support of the Ordre des architectes du Québec. The architectural association of Belgium has created its own version of the program, and France’s architectural association is looking to launch a similar program in 2022.

Houle started Kollectif while working as an architect at Montreal firm Menkès Shooner Dagenais LeTourneux, and later at ACDF. He currently works at structural engineering firm ELEMA, where he facilitates structural coordination four days a week, running Kollectif on Fridays. The platform has run continuously for 15 years, pausing only when Houle was diagnosed with leukemia in 2012. From 2012 to 2014, he had to stop his full-time job to undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments, but largely continued with Kollectif.

“I’ve given 15 years of my life amidst life’s highs and lows to create and maintain a platform that’s, to my knowledge, unique in Canada,” writes Houle. “If an architect such as myself can juggle two very different careers, I hope that some of Kollectif’s initiatives can help and inspire other architects to invest themselves in their own communities, even with a full-time job.”

He adds, “With questions regarding climate change, transportation, city developments, urban sprawl, social housing, etc., I strongly believe that architects can act as credible beacons in society. But they have to be heard, they have to be seen. Not only in architecture magazines, or websites. On local news, national media, on the radio or TV: in other words, where citizens can see them. They can (should) get involved in politics: in fact, in the last municipal elections in Québec, two women architects were voted for mayorship.”

Houle cites the work of Marie-Josée Lacroix, Montreal’s first Commissioner for Design, as inspiration for his work at Kollectif. “Without Marie-Josée, Kollectif wouldn’t have kickstarted as it has. Without Marc-André, Kollectif wouldn’t be where it is today,” he says.

Kollectif has documented 15 highlights from its 15 years in a post that can be viewed here.