We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the winners of the Honorable mention of our “Iceland Black Lava Fields Visitor Center” competition - Gregory Brais Sioui and Frederic Champagne from Canada!

Gregory Brais Sioui and Frederic Champagne

Gregory Brais Sioui and Frederic Champagne from Canada

Proud member of the huron-wendat first nation, Gregory Brais Sioui grew up in Montreal. His interest in architecture started from an early age. He started his architectural learning by doing a technical degree in architecture which introduces him to the detailing and constructive considerations. To balance this microscale of architectural design, he then completed a minor in urban planning before signing up for the undergraduate in architecture at Laval University. He completed this program by doing a semester at the University of Applied Sciences of Engineering and Architecture in Fribourg, Switzerland. He then came back to Canada to complete a simultaneous double Master’s degree in architecture and architecture science. For a while now, he has prioritized the sensitive expression of space in his research and projects. His Master’s thesis questioned the role of water as a generator of ambiance in a voluntarily emotional architecture. His work is close to matter, close to humans.

Frederic Champagne studied architecture at the Laval University in Quebec and La Cambre-Horta (ULB) in Brussels. After completing his Master’s studies, he focused on megastructures and social utopias. Frederic moved to Rotterdam where he worked for a year on projects of multiple scales in high-profile competitions. This experience helped define his conceptual approach towards more radical ideas and stronger material gestures. Frederic now works in Montreal where he takes part in multiple projects from urban design to smaller-scale interventions.

Brief information about the projects that you/your company have been involved with. For instance what scale have you focused on/preferred, any significant projects where company/ individuals have been involved?

Their sensitivity and shared enthusiasm led to the realization of this first collaborative project. The team benefits from a complementary set of skills that allows them to carry out complex projects. But while they have both taken part in briefs from all parts of the architectural spectrum, their focus remains on linking theory and projects. They aim to maintain an abstraction that generates images and emotions. 

What does architecture mean to you and what is the role of an architect in your society?

We believe that architecture is about finding something that has not yet been told about an environment, and revealing it. It could be a flux, a story, a sight, new uses, feelings, ideas; it gives space to something that is unknown but needed. While architecture is in itself an act of addition, we believe that the role of architects should be to make sure that this new layer of meaning doesn’t take away qualities from the existing landscape or urban environment.

Why do you participate in architecture vision competitions?

We like to think of architecture as a research; and as aspiring architects, this most often means trying to find what we value and what we really want to study. Architecture vision competitions become opportunities to test approaches to narratives and creative processes. Without the constraints of clients, or critics, it becomes a way to affirm what you believe in. The Black Lava Field competition was one where free speech was allowed and where you could truly try raw ideas out in an environment that you don’t normally get to work with.

What advice would you give to individuals who struggle to decide whether it would be beneficial for them to participate in architecture vision competitions?

Conception is an exercise. As you train it, your thought process gets more evolved, more complex. The more you produce the more ideas will come naturally. Vision competitions are also tools for you to try new software, new types of drawings, to define what your personal visual expression should be. They can lead you to discover new ways to tell stories and translate information. Overall, these competitions allow you to see how other architects would approach the same brief, and make you reconsider where you should focus. It’s a great learning experience.

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