Three architects – Richard Carbonnier (Canada), Giuseppe Mecca (Italy), and Catherine Rannou (France) – have been selected as joint winners of the Arctic Perspective Initiative open architecture competition. The challenge of this international competition, announced in early 2009, was to design a mobile media-based work and habitation unit, capable of functioning in extreme cold as well as in temperate climates, and incorporating the use of renewable energy, water and waste recycling sytems.

From geopolitics to climate change, the global community is increasingly focused on the circumpolar regions.  This was evident in that API received a staggering 103 architectural and engineering submissions from 30 different countries and territories, proving that the earth’s polar regions and communities lie at the heart of a critical global junction.  With progressively more access to these regions - and consequently more interest by domestic and foreign governments and corporations in their natural and economic resources - API is committed to the empowerment and sustainable development of Northern communities through the collaboration and combination of science, arts, engineering and culture.  Out of the 103 submissions, the jury is proud to award three prizes each worth 1.500 € to:
 
Richard Carbonnier, Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet - Nunavut, Canada)
Giuseppe Mecca, Florence (Italy), and 
Catherine Rannou, Plouezoc‘h (France)
 
For Complete Details on the winning projects and the Jury process, please see here.
 
In early 2009, API announced an international architecture competition for the design of a mobile, media-centric habitation unit for use by local populations in the circumpolar regions.  To serve as many communities as possible throughout the north, it will be capable of functioning in extreme as well as temperate climates with a possible potential for buoyancy. Using the latest advances in renewable energy systems, all required power will come from green sources in direct contrast to the diesel powered generators common throughout the Canadian north. The working unit will facilitate a diverse range of technological research opportunities such as remote sensing, environmental data collection / aggregation / sharing, video editing and streaming, and communications systems.  While providing an opportunity for research, the unit also enables a new technologically enhanced seasonal mobility whereby local community members can live on the land while simultaneously collecting scientific data and easily sharing stories and anecdotes through advanced communication technologies.
 
Intrinsic to the project is an ongoing adaptation of the design by incorporating open standards, modularity, and by utilizing mass-industrial as well as amateur production and manufacturing. The unit will serve as a model for mobile research in the north by incorporating proven local expertise, sustainable resources, and high tech solutions, while promoting open source data sharing strategies and management. Our design process and outlined use of the unit as well as our collaborative working model, promotes sustainable, healthy community development. This allows for traditional knowledge and practices to be combined with new technologies.
 
The competition was the first phase of the design process.  The next phase will involve working with the winning submissions through a collaborative design effort with local community members from Nunavut, Canada. Only after a thorough second design phase will API begin construction of a prototype unit. Upon its completion, the prototype will be based in Igloolik, Nunavut where it will be field tested by local media workers, hunters, youth and elders, in order to be updated and improved. The third phase of the project will involve the dissemination of the design and further prototypes around the circumpolar region, focusing first on the rest of Inuit Nunangat, Greenland, Yakutia and Alaska. 
 
Three prize-winning proposals
 
While the jury found that there was no single submission which covered all the points within the call for proposals (http://arcticperspective.org/architecture/call-entries-juried-open-desig...), it did find three proposals from diverse perspectives to build upon and decided to award three equal prizes, but no first prize. The design proposals selected by the jury all reflected upon traditional circumpolar designs, yet each represented a wide variety of approaches to their final design. They are also characterized by the fact that the proposed structure is rapidly deployable and highly mobile, while based on a concept of sustainability and designed to leave zero (or a very low) environmental footprint.
 
The three award-winning designs as well as additional entries from the competition will be included in the first of four API publications (API CAHIERS), which is to be devoted to architecture.  API Cahier #1: Architecture, edited by Andreas Müller, will be published in Winter 2009 .  The winning selections and other projects that the jury selected, will also be included in the exhibition ARCTIC PERSPECTIVE – THIRD CULTURE which will take place from June - October 2010 in the framework of European Capital of Culture RUHR.2010 as well as the international media-art conference ISEA2010 RUHR.
 
The jury meeting was held during four days from September 15 to September 18 and was composed of:
Inke Arns (Artistic Director: HMKV, Dortmund)
Johan Berte (Princess Elisabeth Antarctic Station Project Manager: International Polar Foundation, Brussels)
Matthew Biederman (Artist, Director: C-TASC, Montréal)
Michael Bravo (Head of History and Public Policy Research Group: Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Francesca Ferguson (Independent Architecture Curator, Basel)
Andreas Müller (An Architektur, Berlin)
Marko Peljhan (Director: Projekt Atol, Co-Director: UC Institute for Research in the Arts, Ljubljana / Santa Barbara)
Nicola Triscott (Director: The Arts Catalyst, London)