The research proposes to delineate the principles of a new skyscraper typology able to respond to the challenges of rising waters, both through an improved resiliency of the lower levels and potential adaptations of the upper floors for safety purposes and the collection of energy.

This research will explore ideas opening on a new category of skyscrapers through a more resilient adaptation of their lower and upper floors.
The initial and critical question is: How could traditional skyscrapers stand-up in case of main floods?
From this standpoint a series of questions can be formulated:
1 – what are the main design strategies that can be deployed by architects to transform the lower levels in case of submersion?
2 – How can the upper levels be rethought, in order to allow a temporary refuge for users?

From New York to Shanghai, coastal cities are at risk as sea levels rise and unpredictable storm surge. According to a well-known prognosis, by 2050 approximately 68% of the world’s population will live in urban areas (Revision of World Urbanization Prospects, 2018), implying the development of vertical structures. 90% of the world’s largest cities are located on waterfronts, but so far, most efforts they made to respond to climate change have focused on mitigation and much less on adaptation. (Depietri. McPhearson. 2017).
In recent years, issues related with water has received a great attention in the international community. The only response to a looming tragedy is to adopt a strategy immediately effective. (Dimensions of Sustainability, 1999.)
So far other strategies have been suggested in cities such as New York, through the addition of superstructures. For instance, the JDS Development Group has redesigned the roofs of residential buildings, unfortunately creating unexciting and unattractive types, limited to high- end residences, and which are not relevant for other types of high-rise structures.

Long-term benefits:
The research will contribute to the necessary debate on the rethinking of skyscraper design, and specifically to the adaptation of the systems to the effects of climate change. The research will open doors for a strategy of improved adaptability. It will also help envision the aesthetics of skyscrapers in an age of climate change, in which they might become active instruments in the resistance of cities to unprecedented threats.

Mandana Bafghinia, PhD candidate, scholar in charge
Supervisors: Jean-Pierre Chupin, PhD and Bechara Helal, PhD
Research Assistant: Conor DeSantis, Masters Student in Urban Studies

funded by the Council of Tall Building and Urban Habitat (CTBUH – student research award 2019),

At the intersection of architectural theory and cultural studies, this research investigates wood architecture as a symbolic universe that allows us to study the presence of nature in human culture. This research will theorize the diversity of expressions of quality in Canadian architecture, from the standpoint of environmental preoccupation, building culture and architectural expression. Considering wood architecture as a form of “cultural ecology”, it has the potential to reveal how Canadian cultures represent and symbolize their relations to the land and natural resources, as well as the cultures of its founding peoples.

Notwithstanding the interest in wood as a major alternative to fossil fuelbased construction materials, this research will highlight the symbolic spectrum of wood buildings, which ranges from local and indigenous traditions to ecological aesthetics, representing forms of making that rely both on traditional architectural practice or recent building technologies and computeraided design. We aim to better interpret and understand how advancements in architectural practice and building techniques affect the way architecture is envisioned and materialized in Canada during the past decades. In parallel to studying the influence of environmental considerations to architectural forms in Canada, we will make sense of a dissonance within the theory of architecture between ideas about the interdependency or autonomy of architectural form (visual appearance), material (what it is made of) and meaning (messages and ideals expressed). This investigation will also provide an empirical study of two theoretical standpoints in architectural theory, that have been presented by authors Kenneth Frampton (Columbia University) and Antoine Picon (Harvard University), who defend opposite views on materiality and digital culture. Considering a corpus of awarded designs centered on wood as a sustainable building material, this research will evaluate exemplary (awarded) Canadian architecture of public cultural buildings and its analytical acknowledgement as a cultural practice. Through a series of comparative analysis within an empirical corpus of 40 awarded projects from Ontario and Quebec, between 2003 and 2020,
our primary objectives and main research phases are:

Identification and illustration of cultural expressions in Canadian wood architecture
To obtain a thorough understanding of the variety of practices and cultures in Canadian wood architecture, we will document and analyze awarded wood buildings (through photographs, drawings, physical models, texts, etc). Second, we will study and identify the tensions between discourses about sustainability and architectural expression, allowing us to probe the place occupied by wood architecture as (1) a symbolic form of environmentalism, as (2) a strategy to engage with aesthetic perceptions, as (3) locus of a debate about traditional and digital cultures in architectural design, and as (4) a means for designers to encourage the vitality of local communities and industries.

Visualization and dissemination of research outcomes
The 40 projects studied will publish in an openaccess source, the Atlas of Excellence in Architecture, a documentation and research platform of Canadian awardwinning architecture. We will also submit scholarly work about Canadian wood architecture to a variety of peerreviewed and openaccess publications, as well as scholarly presentations in academic events. Further documentation will be gathered and organized for an exhibition of exemplary Canadian Wood Architecture.

Izabel Amaral (Laurentian University), Jean-Pierre Chupin and Carmela Cucuzzella,
research funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Insight Development Grants) 2020-2022

2 projets :

  • Spatializing the Missionary Encounter funded by the SSHRC 2013-2017.
  • Building Architectural Networks: American Missionary Schools in the Eastern Mediterranean funded by the FQRSC 2013-2018.

<strong> Ipek Tureli, Jean-Pierre Chupin and Carmella Cucuzzella</strong>
research funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Fond québecois de recherche en sciences sociales 2013-2018

This research program will map and theorize a new type of environmental art practice in Canadian urban contexts, which has emerged over the past two decades. This new art form which has been developing a characteristic “explanatory discourse”, or rhetorical strategy within the public realm, crosses the disciplines of art, environmental design, and architecture. We provisionally name this art form the “eco-art installation”. This distinct mode of public installation does not only attempt to persuade the viewer of ecological priorities; rather, it is driven by the urgent need to explain, and thus constitutes an entirely new form of explanatory discourse that places, what we are calling “eco-lessons”, squarely in the public realm. We hold that these new artistic “devices” testify to a historic change in citizens’ relationship to over-whelming environmental issues in the past two decades. In the growing gap between collective awareness and individual engagement, artists have found new terrain as agents of public enlightenment.

Contribution to Knowledge
Despite the increasing number of eco-art installations, this category has yet to receive critical attention particularly in its complex conjoining of art, design, public space, and eco-lessons. We believe that the reason for this lack of attention lies, in part, in the fact that these works are inherently difficult to assess in traditional discipline-based methods: they draw from the fine arts disciplines, yet lay stress on a certain didacticism that late 20th and early 21st-century art discourses view with suspicion. These works are often deeply grounded in sustainable design, yet while they occupy space in many ways that invoke architecture, urban and landscape design, they are rarely confined within the expertise of these professions. The emergence of this art may be related to what the public perceives as the persistent failure of politicians to address the ecological crisis. Beyond the constitution of an online repertoire of representative Canadian eco-art installations, the main objective of this research is to document the conceptual strategies that are the vehicle for this new explanatory discourse in public eco-art, and to theorize the didactic nature of the resulting eco-lessons. It is our hypothesis that these new hybrid practices in the public realm are depositories of unexploited knowledge and point to potential solutions, encapsulating a particular stage of environmental awareness, while distancing themselves from the abstract ethos of their predecessors. How do these practices explore the conjoining of art, design, public space, and ecological concern with highly didactic strategies?Impact
Along with a scientific monographic mapping, publications and communications, the results of this research, gathered in a bilingual online digital platform entitled the Canadian Map of Eco-Art, will respond to both scientific and educational aims, particularly as delineated by UNESCO, disseminating Canadian expertise in this field, by specifically displaying the didactic approaches and potentially scalable ideas. In a growing digital economy, this mapping will be an important source of documentation for students in all art and design fields, across Canada and around the world, as well as an innovative resource for institutional and commissioning agents. Citizens will become more familiar with important environmental debates and controversies and will be invited to take part in the conversation. Our analysis of eco-art installations should grant access to a deeper understanding of ongoing environmental issues and constitute a knowledge base for future generations.

<strong>Carmela Cucuzzella, Cynthia Hammond and Jean-Pierre Chupin</strong>
Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Insight grants) 2018 – 2022

This research-creation aims to explore the didactic potential of architecture in its relationship with the city through the study and design of places “in-between”. The issue of innovation in school architecture in the Canadian downtown of the 21st century is addressed in an exploration of the interfaces between school and city.

The spatiality of the in-between was studied by the architect Aldo van Eyck in the 1960s and by the theorist and teacher Bernard Tschumi since the early 1990s. Their writings and works are important references for our project. The places that connect the educational spaces and the city still constitute a grey area in current research on school architecture, which tends to focus on educational success with the aim of education, socialisation and qualification for employment rather than theorising the design of the places. We consider, however, that the experience of an architecture attentive to the quality of educational spaces and of the city can contribute to make young citizens aware of the quality of the built environment.

The design of schools and in-between places presents new challenges as functional and technical programs evolve slowly. These technical documents, which describe in qualitative and organizational terms the building projects and from which schools are designed, reproduce a model of a monofunctional building with an outdoor playground at ground level, although it has long since ceased to correspond to the land-related realities of city centres.

Paradoxically, many Canadian cities are short of elementary schools which play a key role in fostering urban development. This research/creation proposes an original mode of investigation based on the competition of ideas. In architecture, a competition of ideas does not necessarily lead to the construction of the winning project, its objective being to bring out innovative proposals and actively contribute to public debate.

In addition to being analyzed, the results of the pilot competition will be available online, in English and French, on the Canadian Competitions Catalogue site and will be the subject of a public exhibition at the UQAM Design Center. In doing so, this project also aims to contribute to the definition of research and creation in architecture and to a better understanding of the role of competitions in the renewal of the discipline and the profession. It will support the training of future researchers and future architects who will be introduced to research by working on issues that will require their contribution in the years to come.

The methodology of the project is based on a principle that we tested in a first SSHRC research-creation project that focused on social housing as a driver of transformation in Canadian and Montreal city centres : the creation component was also based on a competition involving master’s level students.

This new project aims to mobilize researchers from the disciplines of architecture, pedagogy, sociology, psychology, urban design and landscape to develop new pan-Canadian collaborations. Outside the research community, the project is expected to be of strong interest to school boards in major cities in Canada and internationally, as well as groups representing various stakeholders.

<strong>Anne Cormier, Jean-Pierre Chupin and Georges Adamczyk </strong>
research funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Insight Development Grant) 2018-2020

Recherches et exposition coordonnées par Georges Adamczyk et Bechara Helal

Galerie de l’Université de Montréal –  – Janvier – Mars 2018

Over the last two decades, the high profile of awards of excellence in Canada has thrown a spotlight on the question of architectural quality, especially in the design and construction of cultural institutions. In this period, the profession and discipline of architecture have faced the rise of two major paradigms: the imperative of environmentalism and the advent of new digital technologies have both led to radical changes in conceptual frameworks. It is our hypothesis that these major shifts have influenced the judgement of quality in our built environment and public buildings. We propose to make them explicit, theorising them through a series of comparative analyses of Canadian awards of excellence. How have the criteria of quality been established in Canadian awards since 1995? How is architectural judgement oscillating between the meaning of forms and environmental performance, symbolism and innovation?

Contribution to Knowledge
We propose to catalogue, compare, and categorize architectural quality since the mid 1990s in Canada. In an overall corpus of more than 1300 building awards during the last two decades, we will examine a specific corpus of 150 cultural buildings, institutions such as libraries and civic centres which raise a widespread public interest in architectural quality. The research involves diachronic and synchronic discourse and formal analysis. We will compare ensembles of prize-winning buildings, decoding judgement criteria and deconstructing judging devices. From these analyses, we will develop mapping diagrams that are historical, theoretical, and critical, taking into consideration scale, program and function.
To treat this complex phenomenon, the team combines the multidisciplinary expertise of scholars in the fields of architecture theory, design thinking, history of art and science, environmental design, innovation theory and computation. Our team has gained significant international recognition for its work on juried competitions for projects. Through a grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, we have acquired the digital infrastructure for the documentation and comparative cross-referencing of architectural data. That earlier research focused on unbuilt projects since competitions judge architectural propositions as represented in a suite of architectural drawings. This entirely new research program focuses specifically on awards of excellence for finished buildings as a first methodological and theoretical step through the constitution of a Canadian map of architectural quality.

This research will improve our historical and theoretical understanding of the representations and assessment of quality in public architecture in Canada, particularly cultural institutions. It will provide evaluations of recurring criteria and definitions through close attention to the themes of innovation, sustainability, context inclusion, and representation. The results will be publically accessible through the Internet in the form of an interactive atlas, presenting qualitative models and mappings associated with exemplary schemes. Our study will contribute to a better understanding of contemporary heritage, and will work towards best practices in the training of policy-makers, of design panels and awards committees. More broadly, a deeper understanding of the criteria of architectural quality will have an impact on the judgement of quality for all disciplines that deploy qualitative criteria of excellence.

<strong>Jean-Pierre Chupin, Carmela Cucuzzella, David Theodore, Georges Adamczyk</strong>
Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Insight grants) 2017 – 2020




Research, exhibition and collective book about the famous architecture PGL (Papineau Gérin-Lajoie) 

Louis Martin et Réjean Legault (dir.), Carlo Carbone,

Georges Adamczyk


Funded by :

Conseil des arts du Canada

Ordre des Architectes du Québec

Institut patrimoine UQAM

Design UQAM

FRQSC (subvention de fonctionnement du LEAP)




Innovating the Heritage Context :
As an omnipresent preoccupation, can heritage conservation succeed without compromising an extensive exploration of contemporary architecture, our future heritage? Do the current practices of heritage conservation, founded on the notions of value, enable architects to engage their own creative values?
Supported by projects in the Leap database, this research will comparatively analyze and critique the value systems and approaches demonstrated in competitions involving additions, renovations and insertions in heritage sites in Canada, since 1990.
Project Title :
Innovand Conservation : creating contmeporary architecture at the risk of losing a heritage
Organisme subventionnaire :
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSRSH)
Project Director :
Jacques Lachapelle

Associate Researchers:

Georges Adamczyk
Jean-Pierre Chupin
Susan Bronson
Denis Bilodeau
Pierre Boudon

Research Assistants :
Rim Ben Fredj, PhD student (UdeM)
Imen Ben Jemia, PhD student (UdeM)
Mathieu Pomerleau, MscA student(UdeM)Mélanie Jetté, M.Arch student (UdeM)
Renée Mailhot,  M.Arch student (UdeM)
Alexandre Massé, M.Arch student (UdeM)
Renaud Bourbonnais,  B.D.A.student  (UdeM)
Myriam Poulin,  B.D.A. student (UdeM)


Title of Project : 
Framing sustainability in contemporary projects for Canadian public spaces: a comparative analysis of the new critical role of biological models and naturalistic analogies for qualitative judgment in architectural and urban design competitions (1992-2012)

Grant Organization :

Project leader :
Carmela Cucuzzella
Jean-Pierre Chupin


Students :
Anne Saint-Laurent
Manon Bruel
Marie Andrée Bérubé

Research Abstract: