This proposal for the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, a national museum located in Winnipeg, Canada, was one of five finalists selected in an international competition. The museum is located at The Forks, a national historic site at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers which was once a traditional gathering place for native tribes across Canada and the northern United States. The museum is conceived as a morphological and spatial armature that places the individual in a constant dialogue between knowledge and understanding of past events, and provides both a place for reflection and transformation.
The building’s petal-like exterior edges respond to the internal program, its multiplicity of form derived from the galleries, exhibits, and public spaces of the museum while simultaneously creating a series of exterior courtyards and urban facades integrated into the site. At the center of the museum is a garden of reflection, a silent counterpoint to the intensity of the museum’s content. The garden, inscribed within the building’s center, reaches to the outer edges of the form to blur the relationship of the building’s apparent mass and the large void at its center. This clearing becomes a point of clarity, convergence, and repose at the heart of the museum. Suspended above the garden of reflection, the museum’s bridges perform as a series of structural armatures typing back the cantilevered lobes of the museum’s exterior, as well as creating physical passageways and encounters between the museum’s different programs. This lattice canopy of bridges become spaces of movement and reflection where individuals can leave behind the dark interior experience of the galleries and venture into light-filled passageways suspended above the garden below. Rather than provide a didactic equivalent for the museum’s memorials, displays, and forums, the project provides an open structure within which visitors can reflect on their own place vis-a-vis the museum’s content, each other, and their country, providing a framework within which understanding can emerge.
LOCATION / Winnipeg, Canada
TYPE / National Museum
SIZE / 265,000sf
STATUS / Design Completed 2004
ROLE / Design Architect & Architect of Record