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Architects Against Housing Alienation (AAHA) to represent Canada at the 2023 Venice Biennale of Architecture

The Canada Council for the Arts is proud to announce that Architects Against Housing Alienation (AAHA) will represent Canada in the 18th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, from May 20 to November 26, 2023.

AHA Not for sale! poster taped to traffic poll on busy street in Toronto.
Architects Against Housing Alienation (AAHA), Poster in Toronto (poster by Chris Lee, rendering by William Hansen), 2022.

Project Description

With this distinction, Architects Against Housing Alienation (AAHA) will launch Not for Sale! an architectural activist campaign for non-alienated housing.

Canada is in the midst of a severe and protracted housing crisis, with issues ranging from widespread unaffordability to under-housing, precarious housing, and homelessness. This modern reality, shaped by the extractive logic of speculative real estate, is founded on the simultaneous colonial dispossession of Indigenous lands and the modern invention of fee-simple property. Real estate speculation is a form of extortion. It converts homes into spatio-financial assets, changing the form, function, and aesthetics of housing to better serve the logics of wealth storage and speculation. The process is violent, resulting in an urban environment that is racist, sexist, and classist at a systemic level. This global phenomenon is nowhere more visible than in Canada, a country whose economy is now dominated by real estate.

Architects Against Housing Alienation (AAHA), Headquarters (rendering by William Hansen), 2022.

Architects Against Housing Alienation (AAHA) will transform the Canada Pavilion in the Giardini into a campaign headquarters for equitable housing that rejects this concept of property and the financialized form of architecture that it implies. To address these issues, they will work with interdisciplinary and geographically dispersed teams comprised of activist organizations, advocates for non-alienated housing, and architects. They will collaborate to develop demands and create architectural projects to address housing alienation, presenting bold visions for equitable and deeply affordable housing in Canada. The AAHA goal is to mobilize all Canadians to join the call for safer, healthier, and more equitable housing.

“We are thrilled to have been selected to represent Canada at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition, a prestigious international platform that engages critical conversation about contemporary architecture. It is crucial that we respond to Canada’s deep housing crisis. Together with Indigenous leaders, activists, advocates, and architects, we will create a campaign for accessible and affordable housing for all.” — Architects Against Housing Alienation (AAHA)

“On behalf of the Canada Council for the Arts, my congratulations to Architects Against Housing Alienation (AAHA) and their collaborators. Their proposed Not for Sale! campaign is both unique and timely. It is certain to resonate internationally, as Canada, like much of the world, grapples with the complex and widespread challenges of housing affordability and availability. We look forward to discovering how AAHA will evolve and incorporate their concept into the Canada Pavilion as part of the 2023 Venice Biennale of Architecture. The Canada Council—as Commissioner of this exhibition—is pleased to enable big arts ideas that influence social change to reach new audiences.” — Simon Brault - Director & CEO, Canada Council for the Arts

Architects Against Housing Alienation (AAHA)

Architects Against Housing Alienation (AAHA) is a curatorial collective, newly formed for the Venice Biennale of Architecture. It has a mission to instigate an architectural movement and create socially, ecologically, and creatively empowering housing for all.

Six headshots of Architects Against Housing Alienation (AAHA) members
Adrian Blackwell, David Fortin, Matthew Soules, Sara Stevens, Patrick Stewart, Tijana Vujosevic

Adrian Blackwell is an artist, designer, theorist, and educator, whose work explores the relationship between physical spaces and political economic forces. His art and design have been exhibited across Canada, in the United States, and internationally at the Shenzhen and Chengdu Biennales, Shanghai Urban Space Art Season, the Chicago Architecture Biennial and the Toronto Biennial of Art. In 2022 Adrian and David Fortin co-edited issue 12/13 of the journal Scapegoat–c\a\n\a\d\a: delineating nation state capitalism. He has taught architecture and urbanism at Chongqing, Michigan, Toronto, and Harvard Universities and is currently an associate professor at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture.

David Fortin is a citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario and a member of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) Indigenous Task Force that seeks ‘ways to foster and promote indigenous design in Canada’. From 2018–2019, he coordinated a community-led housing design project with the National Research Council for remote northern communities and has also participated as a mentor and architect for the Indigenous Homes Innovation Initiative administered by Indigenous Services Canada. David is a professional architect who runs a small architectural office working primarily with Métis and First Nations communities across Canada. He is currently a professor at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture.

Matthew Soules is an associate professor at the University of British Columbia School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and the founder of Matthew Soules Architecture. Matthew’s research focuses on contemporary capitalism and architecture. His latest book, Icebergs, Zombies, and the Ultra Thin: Architecture and Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century, examines the rise of finance capitalism and its relationship with architecture. Matthew’s work has been funded by numerous organizations, including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the British Columbia Arts Council, as well as receiving a wide range of awards, such as the AIA/ACSA Housing Design Education Award in 2012. He has been visiting faculty at Harvard University and SCI-Arc.

Sara Stevens is an architectural and urban historian. She is an associate professor at the University of British Columbia School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. Her research focuses on real estate developers of the twentieth century, exploring the cultural economy of architectural practice, finance, and expertise in Canada and the United States. Her book, Developing Expertise: Architecture and Real Estate in Metropolitan, studies real estate development in twentieth century American cities, and how developers, investors, and architects worked together to build subdivisions and superblocks, cul-de-sacs, and towers. Sara was awarded a 2019 Research Fellowship with the Canadian Centre for Architecture that supports her second book project, titled Building Capital.

Patrick Stewart is a member of the Killerwhale House of Daaxan of the Nisga’a Nation. He is an award-winning architect with 26 years of architectural experience. Patrick was the first architect of First Nations ancestry to own and operate an architectural firm in British Columbia and elected as President of the Architectural Institute of British Columbia. Patrick is founding Chair of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Indigenous Task Force, Co-Chair of the RAIC Truth and Reconciliation Task Force and Chair of the Provincial Aboriginal Homelessness Committee in BC. He has also been a mentor for the Indigenous Homes Innovation Initiative administered by Indigenous Services Canada as a different way to develop, design and fund projects with Indigenous communities.

Tijana Vujosevic is assistant professor at the University of British Columbia School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. Tijana is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including the MIT Presidential Fellowship, Gerda Henkel Foundation PhD Fellowship, American Association of University Women International Fellowship, and, more recently, a two-year Fellowship with the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Strasbourg. Recently, MOMA re-published her 2013 essay on Soviet 1930s bathhouses on its site as essential reading during the pandemic. Tijana’s book on communist domesticity was reviewed in nine scholarly journals and was on Owen Hatherley’s list of most important books of 2017 in the Architectural Review.

Chris Lee is a graphic designer and assistant professor in the Undergraduate Communications Design Department at the Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, NY). His research and independent creative work explore the historical, practical, and pedagogical implications of centering the document—in particular its archival, evidentiary function—as a genre of graphic design. He has worked for The Walrus Magazine, Metahaven, and Bruce Mau Design.

Ali S. Qadeer is a Toronto-based designer, educator in the faculty of OCADU, an occasional writer, and a graduate of McGill University and RISD. His work and writing focus on algorithmic form-making, unorthodox toolmaking, and the disciplinary and economic structures that design practices buttress, as well as surveillance and platform managerialism and the countercultures of cooperativism. 

Contributors & Collaborators: Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia │ Shawn Bailey and Lancelot Coar, University of Manitoba │ Bâtir Son Quartier │ Black Urbanism TO | Brique par Brique | Ian Campbell, Hereditary Chief, Squamish Nation │Canadian Cohousing Network │ Julia Christensen, Memorial University │ Anne Cormier, Atelier Big City │ CP Planning | Susan Fitzgerald, fbm Architecture │ Gentrification Tax Action | Haeccity Architecture Studio │Idle No More | One House Many Nations │LGA Architectural Partners │ L’OEUF Architectes | Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust │ Right to Remain │ Sarah Silva, Hiy̓ám̓ ta Housing │ SvN Architects and Partners │ The Studio of Contemporary Architecture │ Toronto Tiny Shelters │ Ipek Türeli, McGill University.

Lead Organization: School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of British Columbia

Partner Organization: University of Waterloo School of Architecture

Shortlist 2023 Venice Biennale of Architecture

Along with the selected project, the proposals from the following firms and collaborations made the 2023 Venice Biennale of Architecture shortlist:

Pre-Occupied Architectures / Prerequisites

Pre-Occupied Architectures / Prerequisites looks at how buildings meet their ground as a shared space with a deep history—one that is collective, social, economic and geopolitical. How can we reformulate the spatial and cultural conditions of listening? Such questions are pressing in architecture schools and are addressed—albeit partially—in exemplary architecture projects throughout Canada.

Chevalier Morales Collaborative is a research unit in search of new operating models, collaborative strategies and listening tools in the field of architecture. For the Biennale, the unit would integrate four academics from four different universities in three different provinces, who are specialized in the fields of Indigenous studies, architecture, sustainable design, critical practices and architectural mediations.

  • Dr. Josie C. Auger, Associate Professor, Athabasca University
  • Stephan Chevalier, Architect, PALEED, MOAQ, MIRAC, Principal, Chevalier Morales
  • Dr. Jean Pierre Chupin, Architect, MOAQ, MIRAC, Professor of Architecture, Faculté de l’aménagement, Université de Montréal
  • Dr. Carmela Cucuzzella, Professor, Design and Computation Arts, Faculty of Fine Arts, Concordia University
  • Dr. Federica Goffi, Architect (Italy), Interim Director, Professor of Architecture, Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism, Carleton University
  • Sergio Morales, Architect, M.Sc.A., MOAQ, MIRAC, Principal, Chevalier Morales

-Post-

-Post- speculates on a series of narratives in Canadian architecture, reflecting on past and future relationships, and the material stories that underpin them. The Canadian Pavilion will be transformed through a set of installations into an experiential, global event space where guests will be invited to consider: “how can we ask better questions through the stories we tell?”

-Post- measures, positions, supports and takes stock, by placing visitors in relation to space, history, time and identity. The pavilion, itself a communication post, becomes an architectural prompt and provocation to investigate the multiplicity of Canada’s past, present and future stories.

HiLo/YOW+  is a diverse multidisciplinary design collaborative that spans Turtle Island and beyond, with team members from Africa, the Netherlands, the United States and Canada. Linking two schools of architecture, HiLo is based in Vancouver (at UBC’s School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture) and YOW+ in Ottawa (at Carleton University’s Azrieli School of Architecture + Urbanism).

  • Piper Bernbaum: YOW+, Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism
  • Suzanne Harris-Brandts: YOW+, Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism
  • Ozayr Saloojee: YOW+, Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism
  • Blair Satterfield: HiLo, University of British Columbia School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture
  • Thena Jean-hee Tak: HiLo, University of British Columbia School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture
  • Johan Voordouw: YOW+, Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism

Towards a Vernacular of Resilience

The scale and interconnectedness of our global economy and its profit driven nature has fundamentally altered the world. In the Canadian context, this is manifest in sites of resource exploitation where the demand for a maximized return on investment supersedes all other dimensions of community building.

Working at the scale of ‘single resource communities’, Towards a Vernacular of Resilience focuses on decoupling economic practices from global dependencies while recuperating silenced voices to forge authentic and resilient relations between economic processes and local social, cultural, and ecological practices.

The project conceptually reinvests in material, spatial and tectonic practices towards realizing a more socially-resilient, culturally-relevant, and ecologically-contributive future.

marc boutin architectural collaborative (MBAC) is an interdisciplinary design studio that explores interventions in contexts that are multi-scalar in nature with a process that is collaborative in practice. The work of the firm is characterized by the synergies that emerge in the co-consideration of architecture, urban design, industrial design and art-making.


About the Venice Biennale of Architecture 

The Venice Biennale is, and has been, one of the most important cultural institutions in the world for over 120 years. The International Architecture Exhibition consists of a central exhibition with over 100 international participants, 60 national pavilions, and collateral events throughout the city. It is a prestigious exhibition and international platform that engages critical conversations about contemporary architecture that attracts 300,000 visitors annually - among them architects, artists, designers, critics, politicians, students, and cultural leaders from around the world.

About the Commissioner, the Canada Council for the Arts

The Canada Council for the Arts is Canada’s public arts funder, with a mandate to foster and promote the study and enjoyment of, and the production of works in, the arts. The Council champions and invests in artistic excellence through a broad range of grants, services, prizes and payments to professional Canadian artists and arts organizations. Its work ensures that excellent, vibrant and diverse art and literature engages Canadians, enriches their communities and reaches markets around the world. The Council also raises public awareness and appreciation of the arts through its communications, research and arts promotion activities.

The Canada Council has proudly supported Canada’s representation at the Venice Biennale for many years. Continuing its commitment to enhance the presence and profile of Canadian artists and arts professionals abroad, the Canada Council, as Commissioner, oversees Canada’s official participation and contributes $500,000 towards the exhibition production.

For more information

venicebiennale@canadacouncil.ca.

Past Exhibitions

2021 Impostor Cities, T B A / Thomas Balaban Architect

2018  UNCEDED, Douglas Cardinal Architect

2016  Extraction, Opsys

2014  Arctic Adaptations: Nunavut at 15, Lateral Office

2012  Migrating Landscape, 5468796 Architecture + Jae Sung Chon

2010  Hylozoic Ground, Philip Beesley Architect Inc.

2008  41° to 66°: Architecture in Canada – Region, Culture, Tectonics, Cambridge Galleries

2006  SweaterLodge, Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design

2004  Found Objects, Saucier & Perrotte Architectes

2002  Next Memory City - Toronto: Venice - Michael Awad, Eve Egoyan and David Rokeby, Inter Access: Electronic Media Arts Centre and Alphabet City

2000  Melvin Charney’s UN DICTIONNAIRE..., Canadian Centre for Architecture


The selection committee for the 2023 Venice Biennale of Architecture is comprised of the following members:

Brigitte Shim, FRAIC, CM, RCA, Hon. FAIA, OAA, Architect, Principal, Shim-Sutcliffe Architects (Toronto) ǀ Professor, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto (Toronto)

Neeraj Bhatia, RA, OAA, SM.Arch, B.Arch, B.E.S, Architect and Urban Designer, Principal, THE OPEN WORKSHOP (Toronto and San Francisco) ǀ Associate Professor, California College of the Arts (San Francisco)

Annie Lebel, MOAQ, LEED Green Associate, Architect, Principal, in situ atelier d’architecture (Montreal) ǀ Lead of Practical Training, Faculty of Environmental Design, Université de Montréal (Montreal)

Alison Brooks, RIBA, FRSA, RDI, Doc Eng (hon causa), Architect, Principal and Creative Director, Alison Brooks Architects (London, UK) ǀ Visiting Professor, Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid (Spain) and Loughborough University School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering (UK)