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OAA SHIFT2021 challenge generates cutting-edge ideas rooted in resilience

Dan O'Reilly
OAA SHIFT2021 challenge generates cutting-edge ideas rooted in resilience
ONTARIO ASSOCIATION OF ARCHITECTS — On-to-our Next Adventure: Taking full advantage of its location and emphasizing it as a symbol of change and adaptability, a plan for the Ontario landmark proposes to conserve and enhance this historic site while suggesting opportunities for contextually appropriate growth, working with diverse communities. This was one of the selections for the Ontario Association of Architects SHIFT2021 Resiliency/Architecture Challenge.

Asked by its association to come up with innovative ideas that demonstrate how the profession is uniquely positioned to inspire social change, Ontario’s architectural professionals responded with design concepts that met that threshold.

Five selections have been chosen among 35 submissions to the Ontario Association of Architects’ (OAA) SHIFT2021 Resiliency/Architecture Challenge.

Ontario Place: On-to-our Next Adventure — Led by Masters of Architecture candidate Victoria Cardoso, the designers envisioned how the existing facilities at this provincial landmark in downtown Toronto could be enhanced while respecting the unique architecture, and bringing in more connections with local communities.

A new prototype of midrise buildings on single, smaller lots that reimagines how this typology can be implemented on our cities’ main streets.
ONTARIO ASSOCIATION OF ARCHITECTS — A new prototype of midrise buildings on single, smaller lots that reimagines how this typology can be implemented on our cities’ main streets.

Temporary Foreign Worker Communities — This submission illustrates the possibilities of creating healthy, nurturing and adaptable living spaces for those responsible for helping ensure Ontario’s food supply. It was created by a team led by architect Gordon Stratford.

Mining Scars of Single Industry Communities — The Lakeshore Basin demonstrates how the phased remediation of a mining basin in Kirkland Lake, Ont. can be transformed into a sustainable and thriving community resource. Intern architect Holly Sutton headed the team that designed it.

K-Town: A Future — A team led by architect Steven Fong created this design which shows how commercial strips in areas such as Toronto’s Koreatown can be revitalized, while maximizing multi-use opportunities.

The Mini-Midrise — This is a vision of how main street midrise development can be achieved in cities, even on small plots of land. Architect Naama Blonder was the design team lead.

A six-member jury of design and architecture experts evaluated the submissions using key criteria such as innovation, social responsibility, inspiration, inclusivity and holistic approach. The completion was open to all OAA members, architects (practising, non-practising, retired), intern architects, student associates and licensed technologists.

As part of its Virtual Conference Week, the OAA will be profiling the five selections on its YouTube channel on May 20, beginning at 4:30 p.m. There are also tentative plans to feature the five design concepts in individual online talks which would be accessible to the general public, as well as OAA members.

“Debuting in 2019, the biennial SHIFT Architectural Challenge is an aspirational awards program where OAA members come up with imaginative and cutting-edge ideas addressing societal issues. One of its goals is to show the general public how architectural thinking can offer new approaches to questions or problems,” says OAA president Susan Speigel.

Whether in a literal sense or in a figurative one, the concept of resiliency involves flexibility, inherent strength, and elasticity. It is a quality in objects to hold or recover their shape; it is an ability in people to face challenges or rebound from difficulty, says Speigel.

While the OAA Council selected the theme before the pandemic broke out, many of the 35 submissions included direct references to COVID-19 or life after, she says.

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