Carleton University students propose designs to revitalize 24 Sussex Drive
OTTAWA -- The next generation of architects are looking to breathe new life into Canada's most famous family home, which has fallen into disrepair for a generation.
The Prime Minister’s Residence, 24 Sussex Drive, is the assignment for Carleton University students, who have designs on something not just different, but something which incorporates its history.
Similar to a television home renovation show, renovating an old house starts with a dream and an idea. Architecture students are filled with them, and have presented the NCC with seven designs as part of a school project.
"We were pleased to collaborate with Carleton University’s Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism to facilitate these innovative design ideas for 24 Sussex Drive," says Greg Kenney, VP Official Residences with the National Capital Commission.
"They showcase the creativity of students in capturing the importance of heritage conservation and environmental sustainability. Their ideas will help inspire potential approaches to the future of 24 Sussex."
"There really isn’t an opportunity like this anywhere else in the country," says Jessica Babe, part of the team that submitted the design called "Wampum.”
Part of the design was to incorporate the "coexistence between Canada and Indigenous People," with skylights bringing light similar to the reflections of a Wampum belt.
She says it’s an exciting opportunity to come up with designs for the official residence of the Prime Minister.
"And what that could mean for a new generation of Canadians and a new generation of young architects," said Babe
Eun Hye (Angela) Jang, along with her design partner Lauren Johnson, looked to the history of the site.
When it was home to a lumber baron, Johnson says, "we started looking at different materials and building techniques; that’s how we stumbled upon joinery techniques and looking at the knot."
"It flows from one end of the site, to the other end of the site. We wanted to do something that was structured, but also loose and vibrant," says Jang.
Melina Grandmont and her design partner also wanted to incorporate the lumber trade history and indigenous roots.
"It started as an Algonquin territory, and now it’s unceded Algonquin territory; so we really wanted to connect back to indigenous peoples and really acknowledge that," says Grandmont.
Their design, called 'Intertwined,' offers space for both public and private function. As part of the project, the students spoke to Maureen McTeer, wife of former Prime Minister Joe Clark.
"She was telling us about how it felt to have staff around. You just go into the kitchen late at night to get a snack, and you see an RCMP officer; it really felt like there was a lack of privacy."
The Trudeau family moved to Rideau Cottage in 2015.
In 2018, the NCC issued a report, which, "identified the main residence as a high priority for rehabilitation work, requiring an estimated $34.53 million in deferred maintenance."
These Carleton student hope that part of their design may be used in the home’s future.
"We’re just really hoping that it gets rehabilitated and gets taken care of," says Grandmont.
The National Capital Commission says it continues to work with federal partners to develop a long-term funding solution for the future of all the Official Residences.