Client The Canadian Canoe Museum
Status Design Competition entry 2015
Canadian Canoe Museum
The Museum is designed to encourage a sense of wonder and curiosity. Unfolding as the visitor moves through it, the building seamlessly stitches together a sequence of spatial encounters playing with aspects of anticipation.
Inspired by the canoe’s integral role in Canada’s history, the building is conceived as both timeless and visually powerful. Set within a national park, the architecture appears to grow out of the landscape and orient itself towards the canal and historic liftlock. By directly engaging with nature, every visit to the museum will be different as the days and the seasons change. Audiences will discover the rich history and meaning of this extraordinary watercraft, along with the joys of experiencing the waterways, the ingenuity of our First Nations, and the development of Canada as a nation. The museum functions both as a destination, and as a place to stop and rest before paddling further up the Trent-Severn Waterway, or skating in winter.
The design challenge was to take a very spacious program and organize it sensitively on the site. Massing studies began by assembling the two largest elements in the program, the canoe storage and exhibition space, resulting in a massive form that was inappropriate for the site. By shearing the two elements apart from each other, the building began to scale down. By pulling them slightly further apart, a pedestrian walkway was created and views into the galleries were maintained. The building was sculpted with a series of curves that better reflect the local landscape and maintain the relationship to the canal at all points of the museum experience.