I think our city is characterized by being very resilient and I think that breeds innovation and that's what we want to tell the world.
—Johanna Hurme, architect
A conversation around dinner can lead to big ideas. That is the inspiration for Table for 12: A conversation in architecture, a project developed by 5468796 Architecture.
The firm recently received a Professional Prix de Rome prize worth $50,000, which allows them to develop this creative international initiative.
In addition to a date here in Winnipeg, members of the firm will travel to seven other cities, Lisbon, Mexico City, New York, Eindhoven, Copenhagen, Tokyo and Sydney. In each city they will convene a large conversation about architecture with politicians, policy makers, the media, artists and cultural icons.
The goal is to identify what has created or acted as a catalyst for the creation of a strong architecture culture and what impact that had on the production and the environment in each city. And they'll do it over dinner.
Next spring Table for 12
will wind up in Winnipeg where they will present their findings at the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Festival of Architecture.
They'll also be able to promote Canadian expertise and share stories about architecture in Winnipeg.
The 5468796 project team (courtesy 5468796 Architecture)
"We've been interested in the state of Winnipeg for quite some time," says Johanna Hurme, principal of 5468796 Architecture.
"In Winnipeg we had a really strong architectural tradition in the '50s, '60s and '70s and then there seemed to be a bit of a downturn or ambivalence about what was produced in the public's eye. Now there seems to be a renaissance of interest in architectural production and the public's gotten involved."
Hurme points to countries like Japan and parts of Scandinavia as inspirational. "Design is just part of people's lives and there's a built-in appreciation in the culture for that. We think Canada has the potential and Winnipeg has the potential to really be strong in that arena. I think our city is characterized by being very resilient and I think that breeds innovation and that's what we want to tell the world."
"I think we have many talented architects and local designers in the city," she continues. "I think it needs to be recognized and harnessed and we need to inspire each other and build that culture collectively. And so we're trying to find ways in which that can happen and really bring evidence and proof from the rest of the world back to Winnipeg ultimately."
Nothing like good food and beautiful surroundings to stimulate conversation (courtesy 5468796 Architecture)
They really hope the public will get involved. They will keep up a blog on their site, post online discussions and offer individuals the opportunity to give feedback and comment.
Staff at 5468796 are no strangers to awards. They have won virtually every significant architecture award in Canada. Last year they represented Canada at the 2012 Venice Biennale in Architecture with Migrating Landscapes.
Hurme says this Prix de Rome award is still very meaningful. "It's an amazing honour because it comes with an opportunity to do something even greater. I think hopefully we can grow our architectural community and give something back. From that perspective it's unlike any other we've received."Johanna Hurme presents Table for 12: A conversation in architecture in the 10X20X20 event at the Winnipeg Art Gallery as part of the Winnipeg Design Festival on Sept. 20.