Completion Date: February 2015


Lateral Office, Toronto, Canada
Lateral Office

Lateral Office, founded in 2003, is an experimental design research practice that operates at the intersection of architecture, landscape, and urbanism. Lateral is committed to design as a vehicle for both creative expression and open-source research. Design is a research vehicle to pose and respond to complex, urgent questions within our contemporary built environment. Publication, exhibition, and installations are incorporated in the studio’s practice as design projects themselves.

Lateral Office argues for an architecture engaged in the “wider context and climate of a project– social, ecological, or political.” The firm believes that the role of the architect is not simply to be a problem solver or designer, but to act as a cultural, environmental, and spatial detective, bringing to light new opportunities and synergies, and seeking out new roles for architecture.

Lateral Office has been looking at architecture`s ability to work at the scale of territory, geography and climate, and in particular, has been pursuing research and design work on the role of architecture in the Canadian Arctic since 2007. Recognising that the challenges for Arctic inhabitation extend beyond merely more infrastructure or new technologies, Lateral Office’s work tests the potential for architecture and infrastructure to be adaptable, multi-purpose, and responsive to the region’s unique geography, climate, and cultures.

Arctic Food Network proposes a distributed network of cabins in Baffin Island, Nunavut, located along traditional Inuit trails, sited out in the land and in communities. Intended to create a network of structures for food harvesting, exchange, and community feasting, the project addresses critical issues of food security in Canada’s North. Knowledge Clouds examines the potential for a new kid of curriculum and attendant new building types to encourage knowledge exchange and learning between the many researchers who work in the Arctic and local aboriginal peoples whose knowledge of environment goes back hundreds of years. Farming the Salton: Water Economies/ecologies proposes an alternative vision for water infrastructure in the American Southwest, and particularly the Salton Sea in California, an ecologically distressed water body. Moving beyond WPA-style large scale engineered solutions, Farming the Salton proposes to pan incremental systems of water pools that can remediate, form species habitats, sustain small-scale economies and produce new forms of public realm.

The firm has been recognized with numerous national and international awards for their work.
Lateral Office is the author of Pamphlet Architecture 30, COUPLING: Strategies for Infrastructural Opportunism, published by Princeton Architectural Press (2011) which argued for new roles for infrastructure, which might couple with other programs to support local ecologies, micro economies and new public realms. They are also the author of the forthcoming Many Norths: Spatial Practices in a Polar Territory, which examines the ’practices’ of architecture, urbanism, mobility and inhabitation in Canada’s North, over the past 100 years.

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