The news of Justin Trudeau and his family postponing their move into 24 Sussex Drive has been quite the story for the construction industry to have their say - and it's a perfect time for it to happen! To go with his platform of 'Real Change', Justin Trudeau and the National Capital Commission (the 'Steward' of the property) could set the stage for a new phase for Canadian Architecture and how Canadians view Architecture and Architects in general. By allowing a Canadian firm to be bold and explore what Canadian Architecture represents through this building, this could be a project that changes the way everybody views the industry - locally and internationally.
The safe thing to do would be to simply retrofit and upgrade the existing building to meet today's sustainable guidelines - something that many people have suggested so far. But I (and many others) argue to make a statement, bring real change to the industry and be a forerunner in sustainable design, with bold and exciting architecture. This project would be in the public eye and would spark conversations of: what is good architecture and design? What is green, sustainable and universal design? And what do Architects do (hint: not just the exterior, people!). Personally, as the RAIC somewhat recommended in their statement here, I would love to see an open, Canadian-only design competition.
In the meantime, here's a quick re-imagination of 24 Sussex Drive.
This re-imagination sees the existing building partially intact (for sustainable and historical reasons I could argue) with a new Grand entry, upgraded windows, and a solar shingled roof (I just discovered these - solar panel tiles that look like shingles).
In plan, I took inspiration from the most Canadian of things - the maple leaf! It was a surprising source of inspiration but it was quite interesting in the end. The interior spaces are designed to be less cramped and broken up compared to the existing plan, with the intention of being able to host dignitaries from around the world - ie, grand spaces with great views. Section wise, it boasts accessible green roofs, the solar tiled roof, and geothermal energy.. and did I mention great views?
There's a lot that can be done with this project, and by no means did this post touch on everything that should be done in terms of energy efficiency, universal design/accessibility, longevity, etc. But hopefully it makes you excited on what can be done architecturally with such an important building - and maybe, just maybe, help with getting Justin Trudeau and the NCC to do something inspiring with this house.
Would love to hear comments and see your own designs below!