We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to one of our Honorable mention winners for our “Toronto Affordable Housing Challenge” competition – Jerry Hacker from Canada!

Jerry Hacker from Canada

An architect now based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Jerry has always been suspicious of top-down predictive ideas motivated by enduring order, appearance, or style, but supportive of creating processes and frameworks that sponsor evolutionary architecture without architects. To help explore these ideas, in 2020 he founded the practice hACT (hacker Architecture Collaboration Technique) where he is the sole proprietor. He also currently teaches architecture at the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism.  

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 the company/ individuals have been involved?

hACT is a relatively new firm and endeavor, launched just before the pandemic settled in, so in some ways any project is a preferred project! But ultimately, with time, the hope is to focus on people and issues, not projects per se, and see every undertaking (regardless of scale or typology) as an opportunity to fight for something or someone. This is something all projects can have in common, and it has been the focus of what little the firm has been fortunate enough to work on to date.

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

For me, both of these questions mean trying to prioritize a creative user over a defined style or outcome, recognizing and striving for temporary permanence and evolutionary realms of existence (materially, formally, programmatically), trying to pursue and transform substantive questions through built artifacts, trying to embed a ground-up process for design and communication, and putting potential social impact before formal investigation and response. If the former can be accomplished, then the latter can follow too.

Why do you participate in architecture competitions?

Because it’s fun. And because it reminds me of being in architecture school, a time I will always cherish. Idea competitions such as this one also provide venues for the unfettered exploration of ideas, and allow architects an idealized opportunity to imagine the way the world ought to be, instead of how it is.

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

Before starting hACT, I was part of an incredible architecture office that made a commitment to always try and pursue interesting design competitions; regardless of how much pressure people were under from the day-to-day efforts, all practicing architects endured to see projects through to fruition. It sounds like an easy thing to do, but it was not. But I think we tried partly because it kept us on our toes; and partly because it kept us critical of ourselves, of the work, and of the world; but mostly, I think we did it because win or not, we just loved it in principle. With that in mind, unsolicited advice is always a bit tricky to provide, but one thing I might offer to hesitant participants is to remember that benefits are relative and can come in many forms, shapes and sizes.

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