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2006 06 08
Archive of the Almost
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"Réflexion", projet lauréat présenté par André Fournelle, Simon Bouffard et Claude Chaussard

Projects developed during architectural competitions represent a particularly unknown and neglected architectural heritage. Many non-winning projects - “potential architecture” - continue to influence the practice and transfer of architectural ideas in ways that can sometimes be more influential than built projects themselves. By definition, the competition environment is rich in critical, reflective, innovative, and sometimes impossible, proposals.

More often than not, however, the public rarely sees these proposals... the ones that almost made it.

All this is slowly changing, though, through the efforts of Jean-Pierre Chupin, the editor of the Canadian Competitions Catalogue. This nascent, bilingual database is devoted to the archiving, analysis and history of contemporary architecture specifically through the collection of competition proposals. An interactive publication under permanent construction, this documentary initiative emerges from the Laboratoire d’étude de l’architecture potentielle. The Canadian Competitions Catalogue (CCC) currently provides access to more than 4000 reproductions of documents of architecture, landscape architecture and urbanism. The CCC is one of the few databases and research engines entirely devoted to competitions.

Each of the competitions documented in the Canadian Competitions Catalogue generated tens, and at times hundreds of projects. For example, The Mississauga City Hall Competition in 1981 produced nearly 250 projects; or closer to home, the competition held for the design of the Châteauguay Library in 2001 received approximately 60 proposals during its first stage; and finally, that of the Montréal Symphony Orchestra (OSM) in 2002 generated over 100 preliminary designs from architects worldwide.

At the moment, the CCC is admittedly Quebec-centred, with more than 30 competitions from this province documented while only a dozen or so are listed from other areas in Canada. However, according to Chupin, the Laboratoire d’Étude de l’Architecture Potentielle is building a research network within the 10 Canadian schools of architecture to ensure broader representation of competition entries across the nation. Soon, this alternative archive of history that never happened will be a rich site for those who continue to dream of parallel worlds.
[email this story] Posted by Rebecca Duclos on 06/08 at 12:13 PM

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