|français||RESEARCH CHAIR ON COMPETITIONS + LABORATOIRE D'ÉTUDE DE L'ARCHITECTURE POTENTIELLE|
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320+ architectural, landscape architectural and urban-planning competitions
listed in our catalogue.
109+ documented competitions
2874+ projects listed (of which 1534 are well documented)
31636+ digitalized documents within the database (of which more than 90% are directly related to projects)
17770+ documents accessible via the Internet
THE CANADIAN COMPETITIONS CATALOGUE IS UNDER PERMANENT CONSTRUCTION
The Canadian Competitions Catalogue (CCC) search engine is an initiative of the Laboratoire d’étude de l’architecture potentielle, under the direction of Jean-Pierre Chupin (Ph.D., architect MOAQ), in order to render public an essential portion of its documentary database.
The Canadian Competitions Catalogue is devoted to archiving, analysis and the history of contemporary architecture. It relies on the collaboration of architects. Please note that the chronological directory is under permanent construction and that the documents within the database are not all accessible to the public.
The Canadian Competitions Catalogue is hosted under the technical supervision of the Department of Computer Sciences and Operational Research of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of l’Université de Montréal (Michel Robitaille, Head of laboratories). Financing is primarily from the Fonds Québécois de Recherche sur la Société et la Culture (FQRSC) as well as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).
L.e.a.p. researchers at l'Université de Montréal are looking to collaborate with architects in order to keep the Canadian Competitions Catalogue (C.C.C.) database and repertoire up-to-date. Since 2002, architects, competitors and professionals have favourably responded by permitting access to their archives. We are also working with staff at the Canadian Centre for Architecture and McGill University in order to document works archived within their institutions.
If you wish to contribute to this research and
diffusion entreprise with projects that you or your firm may have worked on,
or if you have information concerning competitions that are missing from our
database, please contact L.e.a.p. researchers at email@example.com. You
can send the information to us directly in digital format, or we can easily
digitize it in our lab at l'Université de Montréal.
Contact Leap : firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact LEAP : email@example.com
Founded in 2001, the
LEAP team is made up of 9 research-oriented professors
Genuine matrices of potential architecture, projects designed as part of a competition constitute an unrecognized and neglected architectural heritage both intellectual and cultural. Nevertheless, in a Canadian context, there have literally been thousands of projects issued by architectural and environmental competitions since 1945! Thus, these projects have value beyond their actual success in the competition context, for there are countless non-prizewinning projects, which continue to influence practices and the conveyance of knowledge, to a greater extent than that of the actual realized ones. If the competition method is so bold and innovative, not to mention so abundantly rich in terms of critical and reflective practices, the progressive and unrelenting disappearance of such a heritage of ideas and potential solutions, is indeed astonishing.
Thanks to the generosity of numerous architectural firms who have made their professional archives accessible for university research purposes, and the financial aid of different organisms such as the C.R.S.H. and the I.R.H.A., the Laboratoire d'étude de l'architecture potentielle team at the University of Montreal, has decided to undertake the establishment of documented numerical bases on architectural and environmental design competitions, organized in Canada since 1945. This long-term project, of which the scientific, cultural, pedagogical and technological impacts are extensive, should clarify and lead to a further understanding of competitions, projects and the evolution of architectural practices in contemporary conception methods and cultural mediation in a Canadian context.
The LEAP extends its sincerest thanks to the institutional and professional partners who have stood by this vast undertaking of knowledge and architectural erection.
More and more scholars and historians recognize the competition formula as being an auspicious method in terms of research and experimentation, as it stimulates the design of projects abundant and rich in innovative, technical and esthetical solutions.
However, in a rather contradictory way and in spite of its democratic potential, a competition is always threatened by its 'spectacular' character. We often speak of competitions, yet we dispose of little genuine and documented information on this issue. In addition, we tend to circulate information pertaining to the prizewinning projects only, and public expositions are usually not enough to assure the sustained visibility of such a diverse array of projects. Comparisons become difficult, even impossible, and most of the time projects are often lost or forgotten in architects' offices. This contradiction inherent to the complex temporality of architectural projects and to the particularities of competition situations, reinforces the scattering of documents and devalues architecture at the 'project' level: it undermines the debate of ideas by transforming the competition into a purely eventful situation.
Between 1960 and 2000, close to 150 competitions had been held in Canada. More than half of those competitions were organised in Quebec, and more than one third were subject to cultural purposes. Each of these architectural competitions generated dozens, even hundreds of projects. Let us take the case of the competition organized in 1981 for a new City Hall in Mississauga, from which almost 250 entries were submitted; or let us speak of another example, perhaps more familiar to us, the Châteauguay Library competition, which received almost 60 propositions in the first phase; and how about that of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, which gave way to more than one hundred drawings from the world over!
The thousands of project designs conceived since 1945 resulted from a considerable intellectual and creative effort, yet very few have been archived, documented, or studied. Thus, the status of all non-prizewinning projects is on the road to extinction, as it is not being recognized in the scope of potential architecture. The richness of these competitions is culturally and intellectually neglected. The adulatory and critical over-evaluation, which prize-winning projects are often subjected to, can become just as harmful to the study of potential architecture as the downgrading of the countless other projects, which never had the opportunity to be scrutinized.
Prizewinning or not, constructed or not, these projects peak our curiosity first and foremost as constituents of architectural knowledge, in the scope of potential architecture. Indeed, architectural historians have encountered several cases of which unselected, unawarded and even unrealized projects continue to influence the architectural culture and this, beyond the event of a competition and far from the cultural context and historical origin of the project conception. The degree of influence each project may exude depends largely on the amount of publicity with which it has been introduced. As such, Rem Koolhaas and OMA's project for the Parc de la Villette in Paris, in the early 80's, had probably reemerged with as much impact on educational and architectural knowledge as Bernard Tschumi's prizewinning and constructed project. Many architects refer to their competition projects even when they are not selected. These projects are represented in tenders or on internet sites, remaining however, emblematic images of a fragmented memory.
We speak of an ensemble of projects, constituting a true collection of potential architecture: scattered and inaccessible intellectual as well as creative trajectories of a cultural heritage to rediscover, to collect and to be made public. Thus, to date, there is no systematic documented numerical base of information or documentation of competition projects, in order to make accessible such a variety of comparable situations to the university, professional and public community.
We consider that it is our duty at the Laboratoire d'études potentielles en architecture, to participate in argumented competition documentation and in the development of historical and theoretical research, susceptible of fully integrating these 'dormant' projects in the cultural debate and knowledge transfer. We believe that architecture is not only a marketable product or service, but also a legacy of common culture that will accompany society, which should thus take advantage of its built forms and symbolic theoretical and reflective potential.
The main objective of this numerical base of documented information, consists of schematizing the argumented acquisition of numerical copies of competition projects, in Canada since 1945, including: preparation documents, official documents, sketches, and presentation panels, model photographs or digital models, presentation texts, jury reports, and press articles as well as specialized periodicals. This documented base is built exclusively of digital copies and structured to allow genetic analysis and comparisons. The operation should allow the piecing of a cultural heritage to be made accessible to the university community and should also be partially accessible to the public by an internet site administered by the University of Montreal library direction, in case any necessary authorization is needed from concerned architects.
For historians and scholars, the documented base constitutes an important source of documentation on contemporary architecture in Canada as well as necessary material, auspicious to comparative studies in order to further understand the genetic process of an architectural project, in a supply and demand situation. The university community often works on projects designed and built in foreign countries. The numerical base will allow access to these reference documents and the students could discover the architectural solutions adapted to the cultural Canadian context in the past 50 years.
Politicians and public administrators will be able to deal with a reference device complete with precise information on competitions, and statistics they can base themselves on, which can contribute to informed political elaborations. Professional experts, such as architects, engineers, professional consultants, jury members, and even promoters, will come across precious information, to guide their practice to revaluate the type of competition that suits their project, the costs, the list of intervening parties, the description of their role and numerical copies of main competition documents i.e. programs, regulations, jury reports, etc.
Finally, the grand public could access a 'visible' part of information on this numerical base and familiarize itself with attached debates. Project competitions propose reflections on the organisation of space and Canadian society; and allow access to a finer comprehension of our common history.