Ravine, Ontario Science Centre


James Brittain

Client: Moriyama & Teshima Architects

The winning photo by James Brittain

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the value of revisiting architecture with a camera, and the specific things this can reveal. In my commissioned work, I’m usually asked to photograph a project at the moment of its completion. But I’m also fascinated by how buildings age, and how they’re inhabited and adapted over time. There’s also the evolving relationship between a building and its site, and wider contextual environment.

So I was very pleased when Moriyama & Teshima Architects asked me to re-photograph the Ontario Science Centre, along with several other of the practice’s early works in Ontario, to mark the anniversary of their 60 years in practice.

Moriyama & Teshima encouraged me to approach the project with my own vision, and I tried to make pictures about the experience of the architecture—what it feels like to be there—rather than a description of formal arrangement.

The Science Centre is set on a dramatic site in the Don Valley, with the complex’s concrete volumes spanning a wooded ravine.

The original 1960s concrete formwork is exceptional, but in the intervening years, trees and vines have grown up, and in several places made their way onto the exterior of the buildings.

Because of this, it’s now tricky to make wide views that show the whole ensemble. However, a walk around the outside reveals a lovely interplay between concrete built forms and rambling woods and foliage.

The view shown here is underneath the main footbridge spanning the ravine, which connects visitors above from the arrival halls to the exhibition galleries.

I was happy when I took it as I felt it captured the ambition and spirit of Raymond Moriyama’s original vision, in harmony with nature re-asserting itself. –James Brittain

Jury Comments

Rami Bebawi :: There’s something I love about this image that celebrates a simple bridge. The composition creates a powerful line. There’s an imaginative, wonderland quality to it.

Joe Lobko :: This isn’t the typical image that you’d get from a commissioned photo shoot. It evokes the pull between nature and intervention.

Ema Peter :: It’s a subtle image—the streaming light is absolutely beautiful. It’s out-of-the-box thinking for architectural photography.

Cindy Wilson :: The balance of light and shadow, structure and nature, smoothness and texture makes the column look ecclesiastical.