Whitehorse and Vancouver firms win Canada Council architecture awards

The Canada Council announced that Whitehorse architectural firm Kobayashi + Zedda is the winner of the Professional Prix de Rome in Architecture for 2006, and that BattersbyHowat of Vancouver has won the Ronald J. Thom Award for Early Design Achievement. These awards recognize exceptional talent and achievement in the fields of architecture and architectural design.

The Professional Prix de Rome in Architecture, valued at $50,000, is awarded to a young architect or practitioner of architecture, an architecture firm or an architectural design firm that has completed its first buildings and demonstrated exceptional artistic potential. The prize, established in 1987, allows the winners to travel to other parts of the world to hone their skills, develop their creative practice and strengthen their presence in international architecture culture. The project can involve multiple trips to a number of destinations, spread over a two-year period.

Kobayashi + Zedda partners Jack Kobayashi and Antonio Zedda will visit the circumpolar regions of the north including Iceland, Greenland, Russia, Norway and Finland; areas of the world that share common features like the boreal forest, extreme sun paths, harsh climates and Aboriginal cultures. They believe that northern architects use innovative yet basic technologies to produce ambitious and original site-specific buildings. They will travel to each country twice, in order to compare winter and summer conditions.

Created in 2000 and based in Whitehorse, Yukon, Kobayashi + Zedda Architects Ltd. (KZA) is an architectural and urban planning firm made up of six employees. As a northern Canadian design firm, KZA has evolved to understand the climate, the land and the peoples of the rugged and sparsely populated Yukon Territory. With a focus on architecture suited to the region, KZA specializes in community, cultural, educational, institutional and residential building design. The architects also rely on simple compositions, efficient structure and a minimal palette of materials to make the most of the extreme construction costs in the north, which can be double the cost in Canadian cities to the south.

Completed projects are found across the Yukon and northern British Columbia. The firm has recently become recognized throughout Canada and the circumpolar region as a leader in First Nations and sustainable architecture. They represented Canada at the International Green Building Challenge (Mayo Replacement School) and received a Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia Medal in Architecture (Teslin Tlingit Heritage Centre). For more information on KZA, please visit www.kza.yk.ca.

The Ronald J. Thom Award for Early Design Achievement was established in 1990, in collaboration with the Canada Council, by friends and colleagues of the eminent Canadian architect as a tribute to his life and work. The $10,000 prize is awarded every two years to a candidate in the early stages of his or her career who demonstrates outstanding talent or potential in architectural design, as well as sensitivity to architecture’s allied arts, crafts and professions, within the context of an integrated environment that includes landscape, interior design, furniture and decorative and graphic elements.

Established in 1996, BattersbyHowat Inc. was founded as a partnership between David Battersby and Heather Howat. The practice is conceived as a collaborative studio endeavour. Working from a background of combined degrees in architecture, landscape architecture and interior design, the firm has been involved in various scales of privately commissioned work such as residences, gardens, small art galleries, showrooms, office interiors, and custom furniture. With their clean and simple design, the firm’s creations are inspired by contemporary living.

BattersbyHowat’s work has been recognized in national publications including a feature article in Azure and in the Wallpaper magazine’s annual design directory guide. The firm received many awards including two Canadian Architect Awards of Excellence for the Mayne Island Residence (2001) and the North Bend Residence in Washington (2004); as well as Western Living’s Best in the West Award in the large house category for the Bonetti residence in West Vancouver. For more information on BattersbyHowat, please visit www.battersbyhowat.com.

The winners of both awards were selected by a jury appointed by the Canada Council, comprised of Raouf Boutros (Montreal), David Down (Calgary), Elizabeth Ann Kapusta (Toronto) and Steven Mannell (Halifax). Florian Maurer (Naramata, BC) was also a jury member for the Ronald J. Thom Award.

For more information on the Canada Council and the awards, please visit www.canadacouncil.ca.