The Roadshow: Architectural Landscapes of Canada is a series of linked, broad-based national events that focus architectural discourse in Canada at the level of the public, the profession, and the schools of architecture. Travelling from Vancouver to Halifax, each of the events will take place at a school of architecture. At every stop, each of the nine participating architects and designers will have ten minutes to present one project and articulate this project’s engagement within a consistent framework around which intentionality and meaning have emerged. Ultimately, the goal of The Roadshow is to promote and facilitate an emergent and evolving discussion regarding contemporary architecture and design in Canada.
The Roadshow brings together nine critical architects and designers from across Canada.
The participants are:
The Marc Boutin Architectural Collaborative
PLANT architect inc.
Philip Beesley Architect
Atelier In Situ
Atelier Big City
note: The Roadshow does not intend to misrepresent anyone. While all of The Roadshow’s participants are experienced designers, not everyone is a licensed as a registered architect within their respective provincial jurisdictions.
The Roadshow’s events will take place at 1900 hours at eight schools of achitecture across Canada. The current schedule is:
1. School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture
University of British Columbia, Vancouver
wednesday, september 23
2. Faculty of Environmental Design
University of Calgary, Calgary
thursday, september 24
3. Faculty of Architecture
University of Manitoba, Winnipeg
friday, september 25
4. John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design
University of Toronto, Toronto
monday, september 28
5. School of Architecture Cambridge
University of Waterloo, Cambridge
tuesday, september 29
6. Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism
Carleton University, Ottawa
wednesday, september 30
7. School of Architecture
McGill University, Montréal
thursday, october 1
8. School of Architecture
Dalhousie University, Halifax
friday, october 2
The Roadshow’s bus will also transport the Pneumatic Amplifier, a massive inflatable projection device that will act as an architectural propaganda machine. The Pneumatic Amplifier has audio and visual capacity “built-in” so that each outdoor event can be facilitated in the most public and provocative manner possible.
The Roadshow is born from an inability to define, a rethinking of the conception of a singular “Canadian Architecture” in the face of the profound diversity that has characterized our contemporary lives. The show seeks to explore a moment in Canadian architecture (has it already past?) by collapsing the vast distances that separate us and through this manifest an instant of shared consciousness.
The framework for The Roadshow is conceived as a conceptual bridge between exceptional, contemporary Canadian architectural exploration and topics that are defining current domestic and international architectural debate. The work of Rosalind Krauss and Anthony Vidler, who articulated the notion of an “Expanded Field” within the realms of sculpture and architecture respectively, serves to inform the underlying conceptual framework for The Roadshow. Here, the theoretical dualism of meaning (form and function) commences this framework - and also introduces the idea of the relevantly expanded field to address complexities in today’s milue for cultural production.
This thematic re-conceptualization takes inspiration from Krauss’s ground-breaking essay “Sculpture in the Expanded Field,” which strove more than three decades ago to reposition post-war sculptural production within a wider realm. Here there is an understanding that in “the situation of postmodernism, practice is not defined in relation to a given medium - sculpture - but rather in relation to the logical operations on a set of cultural terms.”1 For Krauss, what would be thought of as traditional sculpture in the post-war era was defined by its oppositional relationship to landscape and architecture. From this there is a logical series of combinations between these two themes (architecture-not architecture, landscape-not landscape) that greatly expand one’s conception of sculptural production and its possibilities.
This notion of an “Expanded Field” is taken-up in explicitly architectural terms through Vidlers essay “Architecture’s Expanded Field.” Here the concept is used as a tool to examine specific themes within contemporary practice and how they address the historic dualism between form and function. In this respect Vidler interprets all of the attempts to define the “essence” of architecture since the Enlightenment as “struggles to reduce this dualism to a singularity.”2 For him, in the last decade, three new unifying principles have emerged as the most dominant: ideas of landscape, biological analogies, and new concepts of program. In this respect these themes “seem to go beyond singular concepts in order to frame a new field of action for architecture that subsumes form and function into a matrix of information and animation.”3
Where Vidler does a strong job defining key thematic strands in contemporary architecture, he leaves it to Krauss to suggest the idea of diagramming the “relationships among the various disciplines that constitute the new expanded field of architecture.”4 Without this conception one is in danger of missing half the story, of focusing on the figure at the expense of the field claimed by such new theoretical realignments. Recently, a number of modes of practice have begun to exploit such space. This is reflected in forms of practice such as Urban Ecology, Landscape Urbanism and Parametric Design that position themselves at the intersection of a number of overlapping themes to propose novel approaches to the way we think and act as designers.
The Roadshow is an effort to explore and map an expanded field of contemporary Canadian architecture. As a point of departure, we ask each participant to think about the central themes that define their practice and specifically within work they choose to present. How can such innovation allow one to (re)examine the historical dualism between form and function in relation to the creation of meaning and intentionality in more inclusive and complex terms? How has new formal and programmatic inspiration been found in a host of disciplines and technologies from landscape design to digital animation? We acknowledge that these themes are not inherently ‘Canadian,’ but their translation into practice can be viewed through the lens of country or nation state. As Alan Colquhoun notes, “It is precisely because the ingredients of contemporary architecture are so similar all over the ‘developed’ world that slight differences of interpretation to which they are subjected in different countries are so interesting.”5
As The Roadshow unfolds the hope is that these presentations will facilitate an exploration of points of confluence and difference between these themes that the participants outline and through this process map the cultural landscape that composes Canadian Architecture’s Expanded Field.
1. Krauss, Rosalind. “Sculpture in the Expanded Field.” October, Vol. 8 (spring, 1979): 30-44.
2. Vidler, Anthony. “Architecture’s Expanded Field.” Artforum (April 2004): 142-147.
3. Vidler, Anthony. “Architecture’s Expanded Field.” Artforum (April 2004): 142-147.
4. Krauss, Rosalind. “Sculpture in the Expanded Field.” October, Vol. 8 (spring, 1979): 30-44.
5. Gruft, Andrew ed. “Restructuring the Discussion on Contemporary Architecture.” Substance Over Spectacle. Arsenal Pulp Press, Vancouver (April 2005): 175-182.
The Roadshow has been made possible by many people and would like to thank:
01 The Alberta Foundation for the Arts
02 The Canada Council for the Arts | Conseils des Arts du Canada
03 The School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture at the University of British Columbia
04 The Faculty of Environmental Design at the University of Calgary
05 The Faculty of Architecture at the University of Manitoba
06 The John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto
07 The School of Architecture Cambridge at Waterloo University
08 The Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism at Carleton University
09 The School of Architecture at McGill University
10 The School of Architecture at Dalhousie University
11 Calgary Motorcoach
12 Larger Than Life Inflatables
And many, many more…
To find out how you can help support The Roadshow please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Ultimately, the goal of The Roadshow is to promote and facilitate an emergent and evolving discussion regarding contemporary architecture and design in Canada. To do this The Roadshow tries to tap into a wide range of media platforms. From print materials, online content, exhibitions, publications and even a documentary film, The Roadshow is at once flexible and stable, ephemeral and permanent.