Canada | 14th Architecture Biennale

Place: Venice, Country: Italy
Commissioner: Barry Johns (Royal Architectural Institute of Canada)
Curators: Lola Sheppard, Matthew Spremulli, Mason White (Lateral Office)
Text and photos by Riccardo Bianchini, Inexhibit
Additional images courtesy of
For additional photo credits see image captions


Photo by Riccardo Bianchini, Inexhibit

Arctic Adaptations: Nunavut at 15
Pavilion of Canada

How modernity can be applied to a land of 2 million square kilometres populated by 33,000 people belonging to 25 communities, where there are no trees, no roads, no large cities, where for months temperature is below zero degrees and there is almost no daylight?

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top: Arctic Bay, Nunavut; photograph by Bobby Kilabuk, 2014
bottom: Gordon Robertson Educational Centre, Papineau Gerin-Lajoie LeBlanc, 1973, Iqaluit, NU, Canada; courtesy Guy Gerin-Lajoie

The exhibition of Canada at the 14th Architecture Biennale, entitled Arctic Adaptations: Nunavut at 15, explores the 100 years-long process of modernization of the most northerly region of the Country, Nuvavut, with its extreme climate conditions and where a, largely imposed, modern architecture has faced the local traditions and culture of the indigenous semi-nomadic Inuit populations. Nevertheless the capability of adaptation to modernity of the Inuit community has produced one of the most interesting examples of the merging of contemporary and traditional, as well as highlighted how modern architecture needs to be equally innovative and adaptive to really express its sense.


Photo by Riccardo Bianchini, Inexhibit


Image courtesy of Latreille Delage Photography


Image courtesy of Latreille Delage Photography

The exhibition presents photos, images and building models of Nunavut’s communities and also features 5 experimental projects approaching different themes: housing, health, education, art and recreation. The projects were specifically conceived for the Nunavut’s region and developed by 5 teams, each composed of a Canadian school of architecture, a Canadian architectural practice and a Nunavut-based organization.
The exhibition is also particularly well conceived; objects, graphics, text, images and scale models, which also work as a support for small video-projections, are well balanced together in a quite inclusive and involving space, designed by Toronto-based practice Lateral Office.


left: View of 12 carvings by Inuit artists, describing architecture’s legacy in the territory over the past 100 years, Arctic Adaptations, 2014 Image courtesy of Latreille Delage Photography
right: A series of 12 soapstone carvings by Inuit artists document key Nunavut buildings and typologies from the 20th century; courtesy Lateral Office

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Bas-relief Corian models of the communities of Iqaluit and Kimmirut paired with community photographic portraits, Arctic Adaptations, 2014 Image courtesy of Sergio Pirrone


left: View of animated model showing tourism and recreation nodes, Nunavut, Arctic Adaptations; 2014 Image courtesy of Latreille Delage Photography
center: View of animated model showing education proposal for Clyde River, Arctic Adaptations; 2014 Image courtesy of Latreille Delage Photography
right: Detail of proposal with arctic balconies, Iqaluit, Arctic Adaptations; 2014Image courtesy of Sergio Pirrone


View of animated territorial model of recreation proposal, showing existing and proposed networks of tourism, Arctic Adaptations; 2014 Image courtesy of Latreille Delage Photography


Image by Lateral Office, 2014

Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014
Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014 is an invitation to the national pavilions to show, each in their own way, the process of the erasure of national characteristics in architecture in favor of the almost universal adoption of a single modern language and a single repertoire of typologies – a more complex process than we typically recognize, involving significant encounters between cultures, technical inventions, and hidden ways of remaining “national”.

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