Migrating Landscapes by 5468796 Architecture Inc. and Jae-Sung Chon selected to represent Canada at Venice Biennale in Architecture

The Canada Council for the Arts and Architecture Canada | RAIC announced that Migrating Landscapes has been selected to represent Canada at the 2012 Venice Biennale in Architecture. The project will examine how we as Canadians express our diverse cultural memories in the way we live and build. Migrating Landscapes will be presented by 5468796 Architecture Inc. and Jae-Sung Chon, both of Winnipeg, who joined together to create a new entity: Migrating Landscapes Organizer (MLO). 

Migrating Landcapes was inspired by the individual experiences of MLO, consisting of Johanna Hurme (5468796, born in Finland), Sasa Radulovic (5468796, born in the former Yugoslavia) and Jae-Sung Chon (University of Manitoba Faculty of Architecture, born in South Korea). All are first-generation immigrants, who, like most migrant Canadians, had unsettling encounters with the Canadian landscape and built environment as they settled into their new homes and lifestyles. MLO is fascinated by this “settling-unsettling” dynamic as a form of contemporary living in Canada and in the world.

Although Migrating Landscapes originates with their personal experiences, Hurme, Radulovic and Chon believe that most Canadians share similar experiences. “Whether first-, second-, third- or more-generation Canadian, each of us brings unique memories and ways of living from around the globe,” said MLO. “As we settle into unfamiliar landscapes and architectural contexts, our ideas on house and home are modified and transformed. As a result, we create new forms of dwelling and alter the landscape in ways that resonate with both local conditions and personal cultural memory.”

Migrating Landscapes will act as a forum for young Canadian architects and designers to investigate, provoke, document and expose the unique manifestations of cultural memory that overlay Canada today. To do this, MLO will design the exhibition infrastructure – an abstract landscape – into the existing Canada Pavilion in Venice, and invite emerging Canadian architects and designers to respond to this “new landscape” with original designs for dwellings, based on their own cultural memories. Each new piece of work – whether it is a house, a cabin or a yurt – will deal with ideas of dwelling and settling on the land, and consequently will reveal a condition or state of Canada’s physical, social or cultural environment. The new dwelling designs will be selected through a national competition to be launched this summer. MLO will oversee the competition and curate exhibitions of the winning entries both in Canada and in Venice.

The Venice Biennale in Architecture, which could be compared to the Olympics of Architecture, is the world’s most prestigious architectural exhibition. It will take place in Venice, Italy from late August to November 2012.

Migrating Landscapes was selected by an independent peer assessment committee appointed by the Canada Council for the Arts, which included Eve Blau (Harvard Graduate School of Design), Lynn Osmond (Chicago Architecture Foundation), and Todd Saunders (Saunders Architecture, Bergen, Norway). The committee commented that, “This exhibition has the potential to unleash wonderful energies. It engages youth, registers new voices and could refresh our own vision of Canadian architectural culture. It probes Canada’s social fabric as it takes on a concrete form, which makes for a sound, yet provocative offering to international debates on migration and shifting national identities.”

The Canada Council for the Arts and Architecture Canada | RAIC are working together to provide financial support and assist with project oversight for Canada’s architectural representation in Venice. This collaboration is part of a larger project to investigate developing support for the advancement of the presentation and appreciation of contemporary Canadian architectural excellence in Canada and abroad.