Using a collective voice to inform the future of our national architecture policy.
Many of you may know that over the last seven years, one of my big focuses has been involved in a committee at the national level on the “future of architecture.”
Over that time, one of the key fundamentals that emerged early on was the need to raise awareness about the role the built environment plays in our lives: architecture, engineering, planning, landscape architecture, urban design, interior design, lighting design and many other fields can have a profound impact on our mental and physical health, reconciliation, climate change, the economy, our culture and our sense of belonging.
Over the last several years, we’ve developed a draft white paper and many of the high-level elements can be found here on along with an early summary paper. Our work is to reaffirm a social contract to focus on people: creating places is about creating homes, places to work, landscapes and places to play and is people-focused. It is also about research and development, new material technology, systems and approaches to sustainability and education.
This video helps explain some of that vision.
In this work, we have been funded by the architecture regulators in each province (OAA, AIBC, etc) but all the work has been volunteer-led. The goal is to develop a final white paper that can form the foundations of a national architecture policy for Canada, similar to that of many other countries.
A similar process was followed in Quebec over the last several years and has led to the province of Quebec moving to adopt a policy for the province.
It is important to note that this isn’t just about Architecture, but about the comprehensive, collaborative, fields that create the built environment as a whole and includes diverse professions. There is a difference between capital ‘A’ architecture and the smaller ‘a’ architecture that, in much of the world, includes many diverse professions including planning, design, interiors and otherwise. There are policies that exist, but they are disconnected and there is a lack of accountability; there is no cohesive approach to policy implementation and no design leadership when it comes to decision making. For example, some national policies require a “state architect” to include in their mandate a regular inventory of social/supportive housing, its conditions and budgets for maintenance and operations as well as replacement/renewal with a specific role for the “state architect” to help inform national budgets that show better use of funding to create better social outcomes.
This winter, we partnered with Angus Reid on a national survey to help inform the data gathering with some interesting results.
My ask of you is twofold:
- Please participate in our survey. It will take less than 10 minutes and help inform the direction of the white paper and, ultimately, will help drive better places, better communities, and better decisions that affect all of us.
- Please share this post with your work colleagues, friends and family. The more people participate, especially more people who aren’t architects, the better. This policy isn’t about architects, but about what policies around architecture and design can do to create the society we all aspire to.
Toon Dreessen is president of Ottawa-based Architects DCA and past-president of the Ontario Association of Architects. For a sample of our projects, check out our portfolio here. Follow us @ArchitectsDCA on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.