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Winners of 2014 Newfoundland and Labrador Lieutenant Governor’s Awards in Architecture announced

Last week, the Honourable Frank Fagan, Lieutenant-Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador, presented the 2014 Lieutenant Governor’s Awards in Architecture to architects Robert Mellin, Peter C. Blackie and Ron Fougere of Fougere Menchenton Architecture. This is the inaugural presentation of what will be a triennial event, celebrating outstanding contribution to the field of architecture and the built environment of Newfoundland and Labrador, and to recognize the important role architects and architecture have in building communities across the province. A jury of five respected members of the community were tasked with adjudicating the impressive submissions and included professionals from architecture, planning and the visual arts. 

The Texmo-Storey Residence in St. Philips by Architect Robert Mellin was completed early 2013. The challenge of this project was to reconcile passive solar orientation with the view to the west of Conception Bay and Bell Island. The house was recognized for its superior accommodation of the program within the sensitive context of its environment. The configuration of the glazing maximized the available light and the impressive views. Upper level rooms were configured around a deck that acts as a wind-protected alcove, oriented to the late morning and afternoon sun. The geometry of the exterior form of the house permits views from the upper floor study and bedroom to the dining and living areas. Entering the foyer on the east side on the upper level, there is a view through the house of Conception Bay that becomes more dramatic as you progress further into the house. The sloped ceiling is lower in the entrance foyer, gradually rising to a storey and a half by the living room to the west. This enhances the view of the bay and orients the house towards the view. The exterior detailing is modern, but relates to the way traditional painted wooden clapboards and trim boards were once used on historic houses in a spare and understated manner.

The 12 Forest Avenue Residence in St. John’s by architect Peter Blackie is a single-family dwelling designed to express a modern aesthetic inspired by vernacular buildings in Newfoundland outports. Using a clear architectural language, these objectives were achieved at three distinct but collaborative scales; urban design, building design and materiality. The urban-design strategy for this house was threefold—to take advantage of the available natural light on the site, to find a balance with the existing urban fabric, and to use simple primary and secondary forms to generate clarity of space and use for both building and site. The building design strategy involved maximizing the building’s access to natural light, achieved by siting it as far to the north end of the property as possible. Glazing the south wall opened up the main living space to the outdoors and south light. Secondary forms or “outbuildings” in this urban setting attach to the primary form and respond to the desire to give expression to the specialized forms of outport vernacular. The program elements of these forms are reinforced with the use of colour; white for the primary form, and black for secondary forms that include utilitarian elements. A red secondary form designates a special space off the main living space—a sunroom with a balcony off the master suite above. A four-foot-thick service wall along the north reinforces the openness to the south. The materiality of the project involved extensive south fenestration allowing natural light to wash the simple elements of the interior. Natural materials were left untreated, facilitating an honesty that respects the “Outport Modern” aesthetic of the project. Polished concrete floors downstairs in the public space have radiant heating, and contrast with the naturally finished local birch floor of the upstairs. Light paint colours are used extensively and are contrasted only to express the totemic element of the wood-burning fireplace where the black of the secondary form is brought inside. Natural birch kitchen cabinetry is coupled with light-grey granite countertops. Simplicity and honesty are the driving principles behind the material expression of the project.

The Lilly Building designed by lead architect Ron Fougere was the significant renova­tion and addition of a former merchant storage building into a shared home for youth facing homelessness. The design incorporates sustainable practices and energy efficiency. Also, the construction was kept simple, so that the youth could actively be involved in both the design process and in the building of the space. One of the most unique aspects of this project is the active role stakeholders and inhabitants played in the design and construction. What may have been envisioned prematurely as an apartment-type com­plex evolved into a series of personal spaces and sleeping rooms all within one big house, so the youth could feel as comfortable in their bedrooms as they do in the community living spaces.

“Each of these outstanding projects represent the best of what architectural design brings to our communities,” said Mark Penney, NLAA President. “As a profession, we take great pride in the fact that we are not just designing functional buildings, we’re building communities. Each of these designs represents the communities they reside in as well as the best standards in energy-efficiency and sustainability for the future.”

The jury was comprised of Dawn Boutilier, MCIP, land-use planner; Peter Wilkins, multimedia artist; Dr. Ted Cavanagh, architect and professor at Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Architecture and Planning; Gilles Saucier, architect and cofounder of Saucier + Perrotte architectes; and Richard Moody, NLAA, retired architect.

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