The Professional Prix de Rome in Architecture is awarded annually to an architectural firm that has completed its first built works and has demonstrated exceptional artistic potential. The prize encourages the development of artistic excellence in contemporary architectural practice by supporting the winner to travel around the world to develop their skills, their creative practice and to strengthen their position in an international architectural milieu.

Our winning proposal, titled Living Wood*, focuses upon innovative wood products and manufacturing technologies in a broad cultural context with the intent of establishing a critical relationship between sustainable buidling practices and emerging architectural design methodologies. The two-year agenda engages international architects, research institutions, and industry leaders in advanced wood construction.

We are all familiar with the economic and political importance of Canada’s export economy of soft wood lumber. New growth timber is the only major building material that grows naturally and is renewable. It is sustainable, acts as a carbon sink, and has a low energy of production. Where steel and concrete were the focus of 20th-century development in the building industry, we believe that technologically-advanced wood products will drive the next wave of innovation. Canadian architecture should be at the forefront of this work.

Cross-laminated timber (CLT) made its debut fifteen years ago in Austria and has gained traction through the green building movement ever since. This emerging industry, based primarily upon new growth timber from Europe, has been identified by the forest products industry and the research and wood design communities in Canada as a new opportunity for wood in non-traditional applications.

While recognizing that engineered wood products offer a strong combination of environmental performance and sustainability, cost-competitiveness and structural integrity, we are also interested in design opportunities afforded through the integration of emerging manufacturing technologies with both cross-laminated timber and traditional large-timber construction.

The proposed travel spans the following countries:

Finland, Denmark, and the Netherlands (Precinct 1: Shared Biomes)

Switzerland and Austria (Precinct 2: Transformative Technologies)

Japan and South Korea (Precinct 3: Craft)

Bon Voyage!

* Living Wood was the title for Alvar Aalto’s design for the Finnish Pavilion at the Paris World Exposition in 1937. In the pavilion, he combined both traditional and modern architecture and showcased his functionalist design sensibilities.