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Globe and Mail Opinion: The Need for a Canadian Architecture Policy
Toon Dreesen | January 4, 2018

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Canadian architecture needs the support of a national policy

From Issue No. 265 | January 11, 2018

Toon Dreesen, former OAA President

Every building we see today, and build tomorrow, will be here for generations so it behooves us to invest properly and get the design right.

As architects, we think about how society will be using and interacting with the built environment. Are the entrances and levels accessible? Is the building pleasing to the eye? Does it respond to the context of its surroundings? Is it sustainable?

The built environment shapes our collective memory of place, and houses the important cultural events of our society. In 2016, the Ontario Association of Architects made a submission to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, on the failure to include architecture in its cultural policy. This submission noted that "some of our leading architects do their best work abroad – often exclusively so – in jurisdictions that welcome and promote architecture as an important aspect of our culture."

 Doug Saunders, in his book Maximum Canada, explored this issue: our population density is too low to support major public institutions and "the situation is worse in Quebec, where the market size of media is even smaller …" When applied to architecture, this is even more true, because it is not just publicly funded buildings but also the private development that creates much of the built environment. When Mr. Saunders interviewed architect Frank Gehry, he said "Canada had not offered the well supported educational institutions, the critical mass of creative people to produce radical new ideas, or the consumer markets for architecture to support more inventive practices."
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