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1992: A year of trends in Canadian architecture

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Lawrence W.
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  1. Introduction
  2. Isenstadt's argument: An analysis
  3. The multitude of expectations and experiences in the creation of architectural projects
  4. The classical division between imitation and innovation in architecture
  5. Subjective conditioning
  6. Jean-Paul Viguier's work
  7. Conclusion
  8. Works cited

?A national architecture implies the existence of common traditions unified by the sense of a common undertaking. In the Canadian case the traditions were immigrant as were the people, but the enterprise in its geographical setting is distinctive; it is in their interaction that a Canadian architecture must be found? [McMordie, 1976]. The most compelling evidence of the scope of architecture is contained in the built work. However, the key to understanding that work is also to be found in the intentions of the architect, what is often categorized as ?theory.? The struggle to understand theory's relationship to the creative process and to the built product lies in the complexity of architecture itself: Theory is often appropriated to bridge the sometimes conflicting requirements of art and science.

How is theory expressed in Canadian architecture? Characteristically, it displays the interplay between the natural and the crafted; that is, between the environment and the structure. In 1992, Canadian architects would reveal several noteworthy sites. For example, Arthur Erickson completed the San Diego Convention Centre, Hugo Eppich Residence and Khosla House projects; Patkau Architects completed the Emily Carr School of Design; Peter Cardew completed the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery; and Dan Hanganu completed the Éperon Building, Pointe à Callières project [Canadian Architect, 1992].

[...] The themed environment becomes an expression of the experience economy, concerned with the individual's transition through symbolic space restaurant, an office, a shop) which project a certain mood or expectation. The themed environment consumes a multitude of expectations and experiences in the creation of architectural projects. Adams and Bressani argue that ?Canada has always stood on the edge of empire,? and its peripheral status as a colonial or marginal country affects the development of its architecture [Adams and Bressani, 2003]. The polarity of being the outside' in politics (whether British or American) stirs a desire to locate presence in a particular space: a central focus to orient the nation. [...]


[...] Isenstadt suggests that ?theming emerges as a new context for the reception of architecture in our time. It signals an historical shift from symbolic appeals to cognition toward the creation of diffusive sensory environments that link immediate perceptions with scripts? [Isenstadt, 2001]. Adept at reading symbolic environments, individuals are ready to perceive the symbolic markers which start the appropriate script, whether the environment is consciously designed to effect this or not, as in the experience of commuting on a roadway or train invokes a ?reading? of that activity [Isenstadt, 2001]. [...]

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