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Canadian architects
May 25, 2023

Canadian architects bring campaign to address housing crisis from the street to world stage

The Canadian exhibit at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale in Italy, the most prestigious architecture showcase in the world, opened like many others have just outside Canada’s teepee-inspired wood and glass pavilion on the Venetian Lagoon: speeches, thank yous, an Indigenous land acknowledgement and applause.

Then the six architects behind the Not for Sale! show took the stage on Friday, at the six-month-long event’s inauguration, and made the real purpose of the exhibit loud and clear.

“We demand land back!” shouted Adrian Blackwell, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture in Waterloo, Ont., launching a call and response from the crowd for the 10 housing demands at the core of their show.

They include designing and building in situ First Nations housing with community involvement; intentional communities for homeless people; collective ownership; mutual aid housing; ambient urban ecosystems; and “reparative architecture” for Black residents of Toronto’s Little Jamaica, who say they have been racially displaced from their own neighhourhood.

The collective behind the exhibit calls itself Architects Against Housing Alienation (AAHA). It includes architects Adrian Blackwell, David Fortin, Matthew Soules, Sara Stevens, Patrick Stewart and Tijana Vujosevic, as well as dozens of housing activists, experts and students from across the country.

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