Three Prizes in Architecture Awarded

27 June 2017

Reflecting Innovation, Creativity and Social Responsibility

Prix de Rome

Inspired by the 18th-century Prix de Rome in architecture and established in Canada in 1987, the Canada Council’s Professional Prix de Rome in Architecture, as well as its Emerging Practitioners Award established in 2004, were created to encourage the pursuit of a more outward-looking vision of the world.


The Professional Prix de Rome in Architecture is awarded to a young practitioner of architecture or an architectural firm that has completed their first built works and has demonstrated exceptional artistic potential. The prize awards the winner $50,000 for the work program, travel and public presentation.

KANVA is a fourteen person team, led by Rami Bebawi and Tudor Radulescu
KANVA Photo: Thierry Bossé
Penguins at the Montréal Biodôme
The Montréal Biodôme Photo: KANVA

The 2017 Professional winner is KANVA, a multidisciplinary architectural firm based in Montréal that has shown great creativity and diversity in its work. Its program of work for this prize aims to explore new approaches in cohabitational design, to ultimately integrate other living beings in present architectural practice.

The team is led by Rami Bebawi (OAQ MRAIC RBQ) and Tudor Radulescu (OAQ LEED PA MRAIC), who are engaged in the promotion of a perceptive architecture created from an innovative and open design approach. "We are honoured and equally excited to start the research relating to an inclusive, co-habitable architecture; having the support of the Canada Council for the Arts has made the proposed exploration a reality."

The firm’s methodology has been grounded on a sensibility to site specificities, the history of the City, and innovative uses of materials. “The narratives of the site have continually influenced the way we approach design; by using historical and urban morphological traces, we generate ideas/concepts that drive the projects. This approach permits every project to be unique and to have a strong relationship to its environment.”

They have taken risks in the development of innovative facades and the integration of the prototypes into actual architectural projects. “Novel design brings about many challenges such as the introduction of new materials/techniques to certain localities (climate compatibility, liability issues, etc.), the construction team adapting to new building methods and the persuasion of authorities having jurisdiction. The process of working with new materials/techniques has been beneficial to the firm by expanding our creative limits.”

As an established and respected firm, the team has learned that architecture is characteristically a long and very involved process that requires the collaboration of many other participants. “At this stage in our career, we realize how imperative it is to be able to work on projects that we want to invest our energy and time. It may seem like a simple task but in reality it has taken us years to build up a stable network to enable us to design and build in a way that maintains the concept throughout the project.”

Their progressive collaborative work looks to create things beyond the standard parameters of architectural design and adds to the current architectural dialogue in regards to our societal responsibilities to the earth and the world around us.

Photoengraved concrete panels at Edison Residence, Montréal
Photoengraved concrete panels at Edison Residence, Montréal Photo: KANVA
Elää - Verdun, Montréal
Elää - Verdun, Montréal Photo: KANVA


The Prix de Rome in Architecture for Emerging Practitioners is awarded to a recent graduate from a Canadian architectural school who has demonstrated exceptional potential in contemporary architectural design. With this prize, the recipient may visit architectural buildings and carry out an internship at an internationally renowned architectural firm anywhere in the world. The winner receives $34,000 for the work program, travel and public presentation.

Portrait of Piper Bernbaum
Piper Bernbaum

The 2016 winner, Piper Bernbaum is an adjunct professor at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture. Bernbaum’s area of interest is in the informal appropriation of space through design, where architecture is an apparatus by which people are the constituents and subjects of making. Bernbaum has worked as an intern at Atelier Jean Nouvel in Paris, Sauerbruch Hutton in Berlin, KPF in New York as well as architectural firms in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.

Bernbaum will be investigating and researching the Jewish Eruv (an area marked by wire that extends Orthodox Jewish households and the leniencies of private space into public areas) in Europe, Israel, and Canada, looking at the ideals of Canada's post-nation state and plurality in architecture.“For me, the Prix de Rome opens doors to research and travel that would not be possible otherwise – creating access to new possibilities when looking at public significance and social impact of design on communities,” says Bernbaum. “This prize emphasizes the responsibility that we have, as architects, to recognize, maintain and consider plurality in our work.”

Plaster casts depicting Architectural Evidence on the interior walls of The Evidence Room at the Royal Ontario Museum.
Plaster casts depicting Architectural Evidence on the interior walls of The Evidence Room at the Royal Ontario Museum. Photo: Fred Hunsberger

Bernbaum’s key influences are her home, her studies in the Canadian Arctic, and involvement in the research and exhibition work on the architecture of Auschwitz, but her passion for architecture began with her parents, who run their own practice in Calgary, Alberta. “Growing up in a house where my parents would discuss and show my sister and me how design and architecture affects and improves the experiences of our everyday lives was invaluable at a young age. I learned from a young age that the greatest privilege in design is to provide meaning and a sense of ‘place’ that will resonate throughout the life of those experiencing that architecture.”

Jerusalem Eruv – Research Site 01 (Thesis work and Prix de Rome research proposal topic)
Jerusalem Eruv – Research Site 01 (Thesis work and Prix de Rome research proposal topic) Photo: Piper Bernbaum
Photographing the Invisible – Eruvin in North America (Thesis work and Prix de Rome research proposal topic)
Photographing the Invisible – Eruvin in North America (Thesis work and Prix de Rome research proposal topic) Photo: Piper Bernbaum

The importance of understanding traditions, stories, and story-telling are key things Piper Bernbaum has learned at this stage in her career. “Understanding our own stories, as well as those of other individuals, of communities, of cities, and so on, is just as crucial in architectural practice as designing, building and studying. This helps us understand fate, responsibility, history, and self.”

J.B.C. Watkins Award

The $5000 J.B.C. Watkins Award: Architecture is offered to a Canadian professional architect wishing to pursue postgraduate studies outside Canada, ideally in Denmark, Norway, Sweden or Iceland.

Portrait of Annie Breton, the 2017 winner
Annie Breton Photo: Bülent Ata Güngör

The 2017 winner is Montréal-born Annie Breton who will put the prize money toward pursuing a Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design in Tromsø, Norway. Her program focuses on landscapes and settlements in Arctic and Subarctic regions.

The assessment committee enthusiastically stated that Breton’s chosen program of study tackles highly relevant issues that will lead to concrete projects and will be useful to her practice. “Winning this award shows me that the topics I chose to explore in my Masters are not merely personal interests,” said Breton. “They are incredibly relevant to current and future architectural practice.”

Nordic landscapes and terrain had always fascinated her, and she further developed this curiosity and desire for knowledge through various seminars and trips, including a one-year stay in Copenhagen, where she found inspiration in different multidisciplinary approaches.

In 2015, she decided to pursue a Masters in Landscape Architecture in Tromsø to develop her skills and knowledge in the very heart of the Arctic. “Taking a break from my new career in architecture to go back to school in a different country definitely seemed risky. But my studies in landscape have helped me gain a clearer and more refined understanding of and appreciation for the complexity of Nordic regions.”

At this stage in her career, Annie Breton knows how important it is to observe and understand both nature and humans, and more specifically how the two interact. “It’s clear that human activity is profoundly affecting our environment, and in return, these environments affect our way of life. To me, it’s so important to study how the two are inextricably linked to see how we can best develop our cities and landscape.”

Tagged As Prize Winners