The Architectural League’s 30th annual Emerging Voices Award brings a focus to creative practices that will influence the direction of architecture. Each of the eight firms will deliver a lecture at the Cooper Union’s Rose Auditorium at 41 Cooper Square in Manhattan. The first lecture takes place on Friday, March 2 at 7:00 p.m. when 5468796 architecture and Inaba will present their work.
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Five years ago, two architects brought forth near the longitudinal center of the North American continent 5468796 architecture, a studio dedicated to the proposition that design-oriented architecture has a place in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The practice has since grown from its initial duo to a cadre of ten professionals and has been lauded with an impressive array of awards for its inventive portfolio, which includes residential complexes, office buildings, and student centers, among other typologies. But fulfilling the firm’s mission statement has not been easy going.
“People see our projects and say we must have great clients,” explained Sasa Radulovic, one of the studio’s founders. “The truth is opposite. Winnipeg is poor in terms of client knowledge. Their expectations are quite mundane. It is necessary for us to figure out how to teach each client so they will appreciate something different. It’s actually very hard, like trying to design a project in a language you don’t understand.”
Part of 5468796’s success in this uphill design battle can be attributed to the firm’s collaborative approach, which is memorialized in its name. “It’s our corporation number,” said Radulovic. “It’s a record in place and time. It creates an idea of a collaborative.”
Whether through the power of persuasion or by grace of the spirit of collaboration, 5468796 has invigorated Winnipeg’s otherwise drab and conservative built environment with unexpected and exuberant infill projects. Two of the firm’s residential buildings highlight its boundary-breaking work. Most of the city’s housing stock comes in the form of three-story walkups, literal and rectangular blocks of buildings that fill their lots and usher occupants in by way of windowless double-loaded corridors. At Centre Village—a 25-unit, 15,000-square-foot co-op development—the firm broke up the complex’s volume into a series of modular boxes that cantilever off one another in a seemingly random but carefully considered arrangement that clusters apartments around a central courtyard. BLOC10, on the other hand—a 12,000-square-foot condominium development—maintains the “block” profile, but gets creative in the interior, where the designers focused a great deal of attention in staggering the three-story units across the plan so that each features a multiplicity of views and exposures.