We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to one of our Honorable mention winners for our “Toronto Affordable Housing Challenge” competition – Yunshih Canazzi-Chen and Antoine Canazzi-Chen from Netherlands!

Yunshih Canazzi-Chen and Antoine Canazzi-Chen from Netherlands

We are a team of two urbanists and architects who are keen on approaching architectural design through urban thinking.

Yunshih is an architect from Taiwan. With a master’s degree in architecture and a post-master’s diploma in urbanism, she has worked in a private architecture studio in Taipei, the Department of Urban Development in Taipei Municipality, and now in an urban planning and design office in Amsterdam. She is enthusiastic about landscape-based approach and strategic thinking. She always tries to design architecture and urban spaces as active and responsive engagements to the surrounding context.

Antoine has a master's degree in architecture from Montpellier, France. He studied urbanism first in Venice, Italy, and then in Delft, Netherlands. He has always cared about social issues within the city and looked at design as research for answers, through scale to social determinism. Today he is working in Amsterdam on diverse projects that range from collective housing to urban transformation or development.

Both Yunshih and Antoine have graduated from the European Post-Masters of Urbanism studies, and afterwards have worked in urbanism/architecture offices in Amsterdam. The EMU program provided them with strong research skills and critical thinking. With the progress of their professions, they aspire to synthesize their urbanism and architecture knowledge, integrate the landscape, as well as social issues in urban/architecture strategy and design.

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?

We have participated in a wide range of projects, from regional planning to interior design, covering diverse topics, such as affordable housing, landscape scenarios, urban transformation strategies, urban studies for master planning. We are passionate about through-scale integration and design.

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

Architecture cannot exist without land, neither could it be meaningful without people. For us, the most important thing in planning/designing is the integration of contexts, both in terms of landscape and socioeconomical issues. More importantly, it is often a small piece of the bigger picture.

Architects today are not just building designers. They play an important role in connecting various questions and people of different specialties. The needs of collaboration between different disciplines due to the intricate relations between complex issues could no longer be neglected. Somehow, architects are still one of the few to imagine directly and explicitly a future for all and bring it to the ground. We believe the capacity of architects and urbanists to synthesize is their main role in today’s society.

Why do you participate in architecture competitions?

It is a good chance to train critical thinking and creativity. It’s also a way, besides real practice, to explore and deepen topics that interest us. It helps us to develop a system of thinking and methodology. Working in teams, it is also important to sharpen our ideas via debating and implement them in design. Finally, to present the project is another practice of communication. The whole process gives us a nice opportunity to formulate our argument in answering an architectural question.

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

It is a different experience than when you are a student with the guide of a teacher, or when you are working in a real practice. You will learn to be autonomous, to make decisions, to manage time, and to build up arguments in a few words/images. If you work in teams, the exchange between team members is also very fruitful. Advice: trust your team members and enjoy the process.

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