A housing initiative designed with a Quebec native community and an entry-level condominium in post-war Winnipeg are among the winners of the Governor General’s Medals in Architecture 2012.

The Canada Council for the Arts and Architecture Canada announced 12 winning projects on Tuesday.

Among them are a collaboration at Mission Kitcisakik, Que., between the Algonquin First Nation, Guillaume Lévesque and Architectes de l’urgence du Canada. The community participated in building the housing in a project that included developing local skill sets as well as improving standards of living for families.

"Though not a conventional architectural project, this imaginative and pioneering initiative to improve physical conditions in First Nation communities deserves wider recognition. At its heart and with searing clarity, it embodies the most fundamental aspect of architecture, which is to transform human life for the better," the jury said in its citation.  

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The Ismaili Imamat is a secular facility conceived by the Aga Khan as a sanctuary for peace, diplomacy and global pluralism. (Tom Arban)

The Winnipeg Bloc 10 project by Johanna Hurme, Sasa Radulovic and Colin Neufeld is an imaginative three-storey condo block in the River Heights neighbourhood.

"This eye-catching block of multi-family housing re-works the familiar typology of the low-rise terrace block to striking effect. Apartments fit together with the pleasing complexity and ingenuity of a Chinese puzzle, offering spatial and experiential variety," the jury said in its citation.

The other winners include a house in Nova Scotia that perches, with apparent ease, on the edge of a cliff and Linear House on Salt Spring Island, which is almost concealed by the trees surrounding it.

The list of winners:

  • Cliff House (Nova Scotia) – MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects Ltd.
  • College of New Caledonia, Technical Trades Centre (Quesnel, B.C.) – Office of Mcfarlane Biggar Architects + Designers Inc.
  • The Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat (Ottawa) – Maki and Associates, Moriyama & Teshima Architects.
  • The Integral House (Toronto) – Shim-Sutcliffe Architects Inc.
  • Linear House (Salt Spring Island, British Columbia) – Patkau Architects Inc.
  • The Mississauga Public Library Project (Mississauga, Ont.) – RDH Architects Inc.
  • Newmarket Operations Centre (Newmarket, Ont.) – RDH Architects Inc.
  • Place des Festivals et vitrines habitées, Quartier des Spectacles (Montreal) – Daoust Lestage Inc.
  • Terrence Donnelly Health Sciences Complex, University of Toronto Mississauga (Mississauga, Ont.) – Kongats Architects
  • Vaughan City Hall (Vaughan, Ont.) – Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects

The Governor General’s Medals in Architecture will be presented at Rideau Hall later this year.

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MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects of Halifax designed the rustic retreat atop a stone cliff looking out over the sea. (Greg Richardson )