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Architecture 2005 – Canadian and international trends in context

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  1. Introduction
  2. Chodikoff's August 2005 roundtable of practicing critics and architects
  3. The significance of the important public buildings built in Canada in the 21st century
  4. The components or themes that characterized design during the middle of the decade
  5. The recent renovations in Toronto
  6. Henault's notes on Canada's historical buildings
  7. The Taliesin School of Architecture in the Arizona desert
  8. Conclusion
  9. Works cited

Architectural design philosophy has transformed from the high modernism of the early 20th century, from classic functional international style which dominated North American architectural practices up until the 1970s, to be replaced by the anti-modern or the post-modern. (Ghirardo, 1996) However, as Curtis notes, the modernist issues of how to mix technology, buildings, community and materials is not a forgotten concept, but still an evolving element in the architectural field. In 2005 Canadian architecture, in a general way, has been concerned with issues of environmental sustainability, use of easily transformational materials in space, the integration of nature and the cultural, and the integration of history and the local. These are in some ways continuations of late modernism, combined with the pastiche of post-modernism; the interest or re-emergence of study of history. (Heartney, 2008)

[...] These ideas stem from world-architectural concepts, such as that of Vito Acconci who ?replaces Le Corbusier's mechanistic notion that a house is a ?machine for living? with an organic model, in which buildings seem to operate almost like living creatures.? (Heartney: 331) In a radical departure removed from anything attempted in Canadian architecture to date in 2003 the collective Los Carpinteros ?created whole portable cities designed to subvert the illusion of permanence and stability favored by traditional architects and urban planners (Heartney: 341) The collective are Havana based artists and architects who want to make a point about ability or inability to travel in the era of globalization and restructuring, with the works also artistic reference to refugee camps. [...]

[...] Describing their firm's work in the context of Canada's prevalent design competition process, Henault notes, way they both view their practice is fairly typical of countries where competitions are the rule: they favor fairly modest projects which they can handle with a small team, and enjoy going into all aspects of architecture from the larger scale of the panning process to the minute scale of the smallest construction detail.? (Henault: 18) .Henault notes that in Canada historical buildings have often been neglected or destroyed, in the case of the old sections of Terrebone, through fire. [...]

[...] Individual buildings and conceptual projects like museums, additions to existing Victorian-era structures, or integration of buildings into the landscape, are evidence of the kinds of community based local orientations combined with international developments, that flourish in Canadian architectural/design circles today. This can be traced, historically, to the anti-modern vision of Robert Venturi, as well as the work of American born, Toronto-based theorist Jane Jacobs. (Ghirardo: 17-19) Ghirardo notes how Venturi felt that modernism in denying architecture students the ability to study past architectural movements, was denying a crucial and vital component to any architects education knowledge of how to work with historical designs that still exist in the world, as foundations of our current civilizations. [...]

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