Guest of this encounter is Pat Hanson, an architect who is considered one of the most dynamic from the new Canadian school, founder in 2005 of gh3*, her own Toronto-based firm, a multi-disciplinary practice that, embracing architecture, urban planning and landscape, has realised brilliant institutional, infrastructural and residential projects, where the three different disciplines integrate, meaningfully complementing each other.
Their environmentally and socially sustainable works, extremely relevant for their effort to reach low-carbon objectives, have achieved international recognition, awarded, among many acknowledgements, four Governor General’s Medal in Architecture by the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada (RAIC), the highest recognition for building architecture in Canada, 6 Canadian Architect Award of Excellence and Merit, and an honorable mention, selected as World's Most Innovative Companies of 2020 in Architecture by Fast Company.
Pat in 2016 was also mentioned by ArcVision Prize for Women in Architecture. Currently she serves on the Waterfront Design Review Panel, Toronto and is a senior advisor for Building Equality in Architecture, Toronto (BEAT). She has taught at University of Toronto and University of Waterloo, often lecturing in Europe and North America.
The conversation starts deepening a strategy that Pat, as expert communicator, resorts to with her architecture, for stimulating civic awareness and nurturing public participation, with reference to Borden Park Pavilion and Stormwater Facility.
We focus then on Stormwater Facility, a rainwater harvesting and treatment infrastructure, that, as leading environmental intervention, talks about the future of urban hydrology with a powerful sculptural monolithic statement, but doesn’t forget the past, taking inspiration from a poetical image of water against a stone well, and Pat elaborates on this integration of pragmatism and poetry recurrent in her works.
Boathouse, a dream house-studio for a photographer, a perfect synergy between nature and built environment, conceived in an enchanting corner, at the shores of the Stony Lake in Ontario, responds to the architect’s ideal of a building open towards natural context and environmentally self-sufficient.
Exemplar of this aspiration and commitment to minimise environmental footprint is another
pluri-awarded project of great environmental and sustainable relevance, The Borden Park Natural Swimming Pool, the first chemical free public outdoor pool, based on hydrobotanical filters, realised in Canada, more than seven years ago.
We dedicate then some considerations on how the practice prioritizes the importance to confer dignity to civic buildings, mentioning the challenging retrofitting of Windermere Fire Station and Kathleen Andrew’s Transit Garage, a 50,000 m2 powerful, long rigorous sign, wrapped by a skin of stainless steel, able to elevate a conventionally utilitarian building and to offer a ‘political gesture of collegiality through architecture’.
June Callwood Park, winner of an international competition in honour of a famous Canadian journalist, author, and social activist, is the final project we talk about, highlighting the originality of the conceptual approach, inspired by one of the last voice messages of the journalist, translated as voice wave pattern with great creativity into the physical reality of the park, with meticulous attention to details and variety of thematic areas and selection of materials.