Canadian architects are often heard expressing disappointment at the conservative nature of their clients and the nation as a whole when it comes to design. And, stereotypical jibes made about Canada usually involve the word ‘boring’ at some point.
However, a quick tour of this vast country shows that while the architecture may be somewhat conservative, it can also be wonderfully considered design: elements of Swiss and Finnish architectural aesthetic blended with a vernacular born out of a harsh climate and unique geographical conditions, be they crowded cities or endless expanses of wilderness.
Canadian Modernism, to give this raft of recent and varied work a moniker, has been influenced more by early 20th Century European architecture than that of the same period in the USA. A generation of practitioners, including such includes renowned names such as Bing Thom, Shim Sutcliffe and Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg, have developed this rigorous and restrained style carefully, coaxing large corporate clients away from the excesses of 1980s architecture and convincing residential patrons of the beauty of clean modern lines.
Those schooled by these large practices are now starting to make their mark on the Canadian architectural scene. Canadian Modernism is being refined once again. It pervades all areas of the built environment, from holiday cottage to worship space and the results are one of the architectural world’s best-kept secrets, for now.