Message - Re: ArchWeek - Architecture Canada

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Posted by  Rog the Dodge on May 04, 2003 at 10:08:20:

In Reply to:  ArchWeek - Architecture Canada posted by Kevin Matthews on April 30, 2003 at 16:13:42:

Aware of the fundamental historical ties that bind Canada to Scotland we have always been highly receptive here to all aspects of Canadian culture. My Canadian colleague, J Craig Stirling, following on from his PhD work at the University of Edinburgh has written and lectured extensively on the role of emigre Scots in establishing the basis of architectural education in Canada. Recently my Scottish colleague, Peter Wilson of the Manifesto Foundation for Architecture, arranged for the Brian Mackay Lyons (who works in Nova Scotia and teaches at Dalhousie University) exhibition to tour Scotland and for I wrote a very favourable review in ARCA 6.

While one can appreciate and applaud Canadian national pride in their architectural achievements, one would be somewhat wary, however, of the matter of a national style as suggested by the Governor-General. This is a vexed question which the Modern Movement and globalisation has tended to dismember. The circumstances which permitted the clarity with which such pronouncements were widely made at the end of the nineteenth century no longer pertain and what one may be describing as a national style has become so subtle, tenuous even, that it may defy actual definition and description beyond the kind of routine and unqualified assertion made by Ms Clarkson.

That nations will continue to seek a demonstration of national identity is not in doubt but such identity requires a particularisation of architectural forms and practices which is not evident, outside neo-vernacular work, in current examples. If the question of a national style is a matter which exercises the interest of Canadian architects generally then this may be an interesting development. Certainly, where it has been tried elsewhere, such as in my own country, it has failed due to the homogeniety of contemporary practice and uncertain and ambivalent attitudes to historicism.

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