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The 4th Ave Flyover. Image provided by National Urban Design Awards.

The National Urban Design Awards bring top Canadian design to OAG—01.07.19

By Chris Cormier on January 4, 2019

The Royal Architecture Institute of Canada (RAIC) is a national advocacy group for the architectural profession, and one of the establishing organizations of the National Urban Design Awards. Aside from writing for Apt613, Chris is also a licensed architect and dues-paying member of the RAIC.


On Monday January 7th the 2018 National Urban Design Awards Ceremony will be taking place at the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG). This biennial awards program showcases the best in Canadian urban design with winning projects from Charlottetown to Vancouver, and as far north as Kuujjuaq, QC on the Hudson Strait. The free event will feature short presentations from each of the 12 award recipients followed by an open question period providing audience members the opportunity to engage with the people shaping our cities.

The National Urban Design Awards were established in 2006 by the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada, the Canadian Institute of Planners, and the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects. The world of architecture and design, much like contemporary news and media coverage, tends to be dominated by American and Western European accomplishments, so having a venue to celebrate Canadian excellence is incredibly important. These awards work to increase public awareness of the dynamic and groundbreaking work happening in Canadian cities that can easily be overlooked. Themes of economic and environmental sustainability, biodiversity, affordability, and access to green space are found throughout the award winning projects. Two projects I find particularly interesting are [tactical] Infrastructure by Bryce Clayton and Urban Beehive by Nine Yards Studio.

Knoxvilles, digital image from [tactical] Infrastructure by Bryce Clayton. Image provided by National Urban Design Awards.

[tactical] Infrastructure, winner in the Student Projects category was Clayton’s Master’s thesis project. It aims to transform Edmonton into a true “winter city.” A playful project with precise execution, Clayton’s work surveyed the various vacant lots in the downtown core and proposes the city use existing snow clearing equipment to make a series of temporary public spaces sculpted out of snow. This project is an excellent example of addressing an age-old challenge—how do we have a vibrant city core when it snows half the year?—from a new and unique vantage point.

The Urban Beehive Project by Nine Yards Studio. Image provided by National Urban Design Awards.

Urban Beehive, winner in the Community Initiatives category is a multi-phase design-build project which also spawned the Urban Beehive Project not-for-profit organization. Both the project and the organization strive to educate the public on the important role bees play as pollinators and the wide-reaching impact their habitat loss will have on the environment. With Phase I and II already built, this project clearly demonstrates the important effect architecture can have on local environmental issues.


The National Urban Design Award Ceremony takes place Monday, January 7th at 6pm at the Ottawa Art Gallery. This is a free event with no pre-registration required. Arrive early to ensure you get a seat. More information can be found through the RAIC website. The Ottawa Art Gallery is located at 50 Mackenzie King Bridge and more information, including accessibility information, can be found on their website.