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When students imagine the street

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During the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA)'s 13th edition of the Interuniversity Charrette in architecture, design and landscape design, 124 students from 6 universities presented their projects on the theme Recréer la rue comme un monde (Recreate the street like the world).

The first goal of this exercise is not to set a project in stone, but to debate, explains Anne Cormier, director of Université de Montréal's École d'Architecture. The results were unveiled on Monday, October 29.

The jury, presided over by Sophie Charlebois (Direction de l'aménagement urbain et des services aux entreprises dans l'arrondissement Rosemont/Petite-Patrie), was composed of Randy Cohen (Atelier Big City), Marc-André Plasse (Nature humaine), David Theodore (McGill University's School of Architecture) and Nicole Valois (Université de Montréal's École d'architecture de paysage).

The first prize (ex aequo) was awarded to a mixed team (Gabrielle Nadeau and Olivier Boucher from Université Laval and Nathalie Héroux from UdeM) and a group from McGill (Valérie Lechêne, Leah Bell, Aurore Paluel, Hannah McDonald et Marie El-Nawar). Three honourable mentions also went out to groups from Uqam, UdeM and Carleton University.

At the launch of the Charette, Phyllis Lambert, the CCA's director, founder and chair of the board of trustees, invited the participants, assembled in teams of three to five students, to take pleasure and to take stock of the importance of what they would be creating, while reminding them that their goal was to "give life to a street."

This street, the part of Côte-des-Neiges delineated by Queen Mary to the south and Jean-Talon to the north, has an 80% immigrant population, and was chosen by the organizers for its unique cultural mix.

The principal element that the students had to take into consideration was the duality of the location: the north part of Côte-des-Neiges, with its Université de Montréal buildings, book stores and businesses, is more or less well-to-do, while the immigrant population is concentrated at the southern end of the artery near Jean-Talon.

Far from wanting to "package" the street or highlight the imperfections, they were asked to work with the artery's link between the upper city and the lower city and improve its urban rhythm.

"History shows that public space is not neutral. It is politically and socially charged. It is capable of breaking or consolidating identities. Stay conscious and critical of the moves that you make in public spaces," advised Peter Soland, the architect who conceived of the design bordering Côte-des-Neiges.

The students were given leeway to create a project that chose a path of either intervention, visual design, architecture or landscape. It was imperative however that the projects be situated along Côte-des-Neiges and maintain physical or visual contact with the street.

The 33 projects submitted, all presented on large boards of A0 format (1189 mm x 841 mm), will be part of an exposition held until November 3 in UdeM's exhibition room, in the pavillion of the Faculté de l'aménagement.

Translation by Jennifer Edwards