To encourage an innovative use of aluminium in the building sector, the Centre d’expertise et d’innovation sur l’aluminium (CeiAl) of AluQuébec organized a contest in 2017-2018 with the theme being : Engaged architecture in our communities, an aluminium matter.

In collaboration with the Association des Architectes en pratique privée du Québec (AAPPQ) and thanks to the financial support of Québec’s Ministry of Economy and Innovation (MEI), this call to creation was opened to architects and their interns.

Inspired by the many properties of aluminium (versatility, lightness, malleability, corrosion-resistance, conductivity, recyclability, etc.) architects were invited to imagine a building of at least 120 square metres to promote the inherent qualities of aluminium, a metal still unrecognized and underused in the construction field. To answer to a social and durable perspective, architects had to put forward a structuring project, either drawn or rendered, and strongly anchored in its community or in its socio-cultural context.

Five finalist projects

Presented anonymously, the projects were noted based on their innovative character, their functionality, their formal and ecological qualities, their social benefit and of course, their way to highlight aluminium.

Finalist 1 – Constellations 

New cultural, sporting or social meeting points

Recipient of the Grand Jury Prize and imagined by Groupe A / Annexe U (Érick Rivard, Marie-Noël Chouinard, Maxime Rochette, Keven Ross et Rémi Morency) Constellations aims to create new public spaces. They are enveloping and introverted, all while being turned on the exterior world at the greater enjoyment of users. Installed on old parking grounds or at proximity to public premises, these new satellite covered spaces are vowed to welcome social, cultural or sporting activities as well as participate to the city’s effervescence. The construction is made from two large anodized aluminium sheets that unfold to form an inviting shelter. The first sheet goes up at certain places to constitute the benches and the enclosure. The second sheet, with a lustrous and shiny finish, floats above the space and folds back to land softly on the ground. Pierced with hundreds of triangles, the aluminium veil projects a play of shade and light evoking the sun’s effects or the celestial canopy.

Finalist 2 – Sans détour

Uniting two grand solitudes

Recipient of the Public Prize, the Sans détour projectis a creation of ADHOC architectes (Jean-François St-Onge, François Martineau, Tania Paula Garza and Pascale Bornais-Lamothe) and aims to connect two worlds, two communities that have so much to share : the urban and bubbling Verdun and the serene Nuns’ Island. How? By the literal erection of a bridge. Entirely created with aluminium, the bridge would take a changing form along the day. It would be translucent at sundown and would show a golden more opaque light when the sun is at its peak. The project includes a water-level ramp thanks to a helical staircase and panoramic platforms : an addition that aims to bring the residents of either side of the River together.

Finalist 3 – Hub rural

Bringing farmers and consumers together

The rural or suburban areas rarely possess physical locations that connect farmers and local residents. The Hub rural, a project of Mercier Pfalzgraf architectes Inc. (Lino Gomes Alves, Julien Hébert, Zola Bilombo and Alexandre Dufour) wishes to bridge both universes and to create a convening space to celebrate local products. For this purpose, designers brought back to life covered bridges, a familiar and symbolic reminder of rural landscapes in Québec. To respect the covered bridge analogy, the concept includes a structure comprising of structural wood gantries joined to aluminium connectors, covered with a colored glass roof and an aluminium skin. The construction also includes photovoltaic blinds to generate electricity to feed merchants’ kiosks with LED lighting.

Finalist 4 – L’école en mouvement

An avant-garde solution to temporary schools

The obsolescence state of numerous Québec schools and the following resettlements are of public notoriety. The project L’école en movement from the Luc Plante architecture + design – Charles Godbout, Topo Design firm (Luc Plante et Charles Godbout) is a juxtaposition of prefabricated aluminium modules with a surface of 118 square meters each. This concept offers an exciting solution to temporary schools. Totally movable and removable, these open area spaces favour quality of light, of air and of acoustics. The versatility of the layout encourages dynamic and healthy living conditions for the students. These new learning environments are comprised of 2.4 meters by 2.4 meters support frames that multiply to form the flooring and the ceiling supported by columns and beams. Therefore, the project does not require an excavated foundation and the structure can be installed on an adjacent lot to the renovated buildings.

Finalist 5 – Lollypop

An emergency or pleasure shelter for winters

Inspired by Inuit igloos and conceived for cold temperatures, Lollypop is a project of emergency or pleasure accommodation units for the community. Established by Antonio Camara, apprentice architect employed by the Provencher Roy firm, the structure comprises of 36 skin modules and two aluminium scales supported by a lattice structure. Concretely, the shelter contemporarily adapts to the igloo ventilation principle. The heat is generated by heating aluminium sheets located under the floor and the ventilation is made possible by the presence of a superior oculus offering a maximum of natural light. The ease of deployment of the Lollypop system, lightweight and malleable, allows occupying snow-covered spaces. Briefly, a hope of heat on a cold winter night and a beacon of light for a city dweller.