From homework to home design

A gallery review and design student perspective on “Where Architects Live”

The Winnipeg Architecture Foundation’s (WAF) “Where Architects Live” exhibit, ran from Sept. 1 to Oct. 27. The exhibit consisted of photos, text, books, and video that let one peer into where architects live. The homes presented were those designed by architects for themselves, an interesting concept to have access to. Most of the time, one experiences an architect’s work as that which was designed for someone else, their client. 

It is probably safe to say that most students reading this have not designed and built their own home. It is also probably safe to say that most students entertain the idea of owning a home in the future. Despite the millennial student debt and essential renting culture, one can still dream. This thought – the home of the future – after all the books, exams, and hours spent at school, resonated through the exhibit. It was present upon entering the exhibit, viewing the first images and remained after leaving. Homes of University of Manitoba alumni including Burton Stovel, Patricia Kettner, and Dennis Carterwere presented. Homes of some non-alumni architects, such as John A. Russell – a member of the faculty of architecture for 38 years and a familiar name on campus with the architecture building named in his honour – were presented as well. Though they were not educated here, their practice led them to living in Winnipeg.

The exhibit was set up in WAF’s office, which is shared with 5468796 Architecture at 266 McDermot Avenue. The presence of ongoing work beside the exhibit enhanced the viewer’s experience because it wasn’t a silent viewing. The constant sound of the architecture office, from shuffling papers to computers, and work related comments between staff reminded the viewer that these homes did not just appear. It reminded the viewer that architecture takes time.

There is value in looking toward the time after school is over and not letting the current deadline take priority over one’s entire life. This image in the mind of what the home will be when time in the classroom is over can serve as a framework for a vision of the future. Where do the notebooks being written in now fit on the bookshelf in that future home? Does the photograph from last week’s concert fit in a frame on the wall? Does this image of that home embody the current work leading up to it? Are the experiences as a student part of that home or are they far removed and forgotten?

Maybe these architects had an image of their future homes in mind when they were over-caffeinated students at U of M, or maybe they didn’t. Maybe students today can use the idea of a home to think macrocosmically regarding current schoolwork.

The Winnipeg Architecture Foundation’s next exhibit is A.J. DONAHUE: EXPERIMENTS IN DESIGN. Nov. 3 to Dec. 15, Thursdays and Fridays 9:00AM-4:30PM. Curated by Mathew Lacosse.