No Mean City: The World of Architecture, As Seen From Toronto

Jul 3

5468796: Canada’s young architecture upstarts

2012 / Categories: Uncategorized

I recently wrote a story for the Globe about the Winnipeg architects 5468796 and their Governor General’s Award-winning project, the low-rise condo development Bloc_10. It’s handsome, aesthetically brave – and even more inventive in its form. In fact you can’t really understand it without seeing a Lego-style model (after the jump..)

The building’s 10 multi-level units fit together, as 546′s Ken Borton put it, like “a Chinese puzzle”:

As I wrote in the Globe,

The 10 units are all different in size, shape and configuration, which produces some amazing statistics. Each unit has at at least two levels; each has windows on the north and south sides, and eight boast an east or west exposure as well. Eight of them touch a corner of the building. The layouts are extremely unusual. For instance, one two-bedroom suite starts with a north-facing kitchen, steps up to a second-floor living room on the south side of the building, and then third-floor bedrooms on the north side – and it’s got outdoor decks to the north and south.

The trick is a central spine of nested staircases, running east-west through the building, that link the different levels of each apartment. It’s a difficult design to understand at a glance, but it does use standard building materials and techniques – yet these homes all have qualities of light and space that are extraordinary in an apartment.

Over the past five years 5468796  been building a portfolio of buildings in Winnipeg that are remarkable for their quality –  and also for getting built. (Most architects of their age are renovating houses or entering competitions.) Two of 546′s partners are also running Migrating Landscapes, Canada’s show at the Venice Biennale, which I covered here.
We’ll hear more from them.

Meanwhile, here are a few more images of the project, all by James Brittain:


5 comments on 5468796: Canada’s young architecture upstarts

  1. Bruce F
    on Jul 5, 2012
    at 11:12 am 


    Enjoyed your Globe article- have clipped it & sent it to Mum (who avoids the internet but is very proud of her hometown!) back in Winnipeg. It was great to see these extra pics here on the blog post.

    I’ll be doing my annual summer weekend there in August & would love to swing by this project. I see from one of the photos it’s on Grant Av. Do you have a cross street?


  2. Alex
    on Jul 5, 2012
    at 3:26 pm 

    Niagara Street and Grant Ave, apparently. Thanks for the kind words.

  3. Bruce
    on Jul 6, 2012
    at 2:14 pm 


  4. Denegri Bessai's Hepbourne House: The return of the courtyard « nomeancity nomeancity
    on Apr 18, 2013
    at 10:20 pm 

    [...] this one, about 62M, a dramatically shaped new condo in Winnipeg by 5468796. (You may remember them for their Bloc_10.) [...]

  5. 5468796 Architecture's flying saucer in Winnipeg « nomeancity nomeancity
    on Apr 18, 2013
    at 10:33 pm 

    [...] (You may remember them for their Bloc_10.) [...]

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