The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada distinguishes emerging practices within the country in their yearly Emerging Architectural Practice Award. For 2016, Montreal-based La SHED Architecture was selected as the Emerging Architectural Practice recipient. As its name indicates, the award recognizes the principals of an emerging architectural practice that has consistently produced high-quality designs, as well as reputable client services, practice innovation, and public recognition. Last year, KANVA — another Montreal firm — won the accolade.
Since Renée Mailhot, Sébastien Parent, and Yannick Laurin founded La SHED in 2011, their nine-person practice has garnered attention for their deftness in designing in tight urban contexts. Their growing portfolio includes free-standing houses and housing additions, small commercial projects, and vacation properties. La SHED will be presented with the award during a ceremony at the RAIC Festival of Architecture on June 8-11.
Following graduation from the University of Montreal in 2008, Mailhot, Parent, and Laurin interned at larger firms. But they spent their evenings and weekends working on projects for the fledgling La SHED. After obtaining their architects' licenses and gathering enough contracts to sustain business, they soon fully dedicated their time to La SHED.
The firm’s name is a reference to the nature of their work, which "expresses the eclecticism of the alleyways shaped by the old storage structures typically found behind Montreal homes." Their office "aims to bring architecture closer to the general public, where designing a personalized living space is not a luxury but an accessible service."
The jury praised the winning practice for the "coherent and consistent body of architectural work" they have developed in a fairly short period of time, and often within tight budgets.
"La SHED has developed a strong urban signature," the jury stated on their decision. "The work is original, authentic, and exhibits a strong sense of curiosity. The projects take a sophisticated and often inventive approach. The examples appear well rooted in the local community."
"La SHED has found a way to produce great work in a market in which architectural success is often elusive — the small home renovation," RAIC President Allan Teramura commented.
"Their accessible designs reflect the life circumstances of their clients while achieving a high level of design character," he said. "One imagines that working with them is also a lot of fun."
The 2016 jury included:
- Brian MacKay-Lyons, FRAIC, 2015 RAIC Gold Medalist, Halifax
- David Clusiau, FRAIC, Senior Principle at NORR, Toronto
- Ranjit Dhar PP/FRAIC, Past President of the RAIC and independent consultant, Toronto
- Monica Adair, MRAIC, 2015 recipient of the RAIC Young Architect Award, Saint John
- François Cardinal, 2015 recipient of the President’s Award for Media in Architecture, journalist at La Presse, Montreal.
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