Living atlas of quality
in architecture and the built environment

Celebrating Quality in Canada’s Built Environment Through the Student Lens: SSHRC GSC Photo Competition

Students’ Perspectives on Quality: Indigenous Art & Student Photography

May 01 - June 30th SAPL Stantec Gallery

Exhibition Opening May 02, 2023

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The SSHRC Graduate Student Committee recently hosted and concluded a student photo competition at the second in-person SSHRC convention held in Calgary, Alberta, centered around the theme of "Quality in the Built Environment." The competition gathered an impressive response, with 29 submissions received from talented students across various universities and disciplines in Canada. After a rigorous blind review process, an esteemed jury panel selected five exceptional winners and awarded a $300 scholarship to each winner.
This competition was part of a dual exhibit that showcased the power of student voices in redefining the meaning of “Quality” in the built environment.
In the first exhibit, students presented a collection of original photographs that challenge conventional notions of excellence often promoted by professional firms. Through these photographs, the exhibit offered an alternative perspective on how to capture the essence of quality in outdoor and indoor architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, and design in general.
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The second exhibit showcased the creative expressions of Indigenous youth, students, and families in 'The Power of Place: Indigenous Art and the Definition of Quality'. Each piece offered a unique perspective on quality and redefined what it means to live in a built environment that is truly reflective of one's identity and culture.
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Together, these two exhibits offered a powerful reflection on the diversity and complexity of lived experiences in the built environment. The aim of this exhibition was to explore the power of student voices and perspectives and discover how quality can be redefined through the eyes of those who inhabit and create our built environments. The entries were evaluated based on their creativity, composition, and ability to convey the concept of quality in the built environment. The rigorous blind review process ensured impartiality and fairness in the selection process allowing the focus to remain solely on artistic merit and conceptual representation.
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The exhibition was held at the Stantec Gallery at the School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape (SAPL). The grand opening ceremony took place on May 2, 2023, where the winners were announced and awarded their certificates. The exhibition remained open to both students and the public from May 2 to July 1, 2023, offering an extended opportunity for visitors to experience the captivating display.
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The jury panel, composed of distinguished professionals in the field, lent their expertise to the evaluation process. The jury members carefully assessed each submission, considering factors such as creativity, composition, and alignment with the theme. They were all deeply impressed by the outstanding quality of work and commended all participants for their dedication and artistic expression.
"We were thrilled to witness the depth of creativity and thoughtfulness demonstrated by the participants. The winning photographs beautifully captured the essence of quality in the built environment and showcased the profound impact of architecture on our daily lives. We extend our heartfelt congratulations to the winners and express our appreciation to all the participants for their remarkable contributions," expressed the jury panel, acknowledging the exceptional achievements of the student photographers.
We are excited to announce the following winners of the SSHRC Student Photo Competition, celebrated for their artistic prowess and unique perspectives:
1. Stavros Kondeas, Dalhousie University, Master of Architecture
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Food in the City (1/2). Montréal, Quebec

October 23, 2022

Jean Talon Market is one of the oldest public markets in Montréal. Inaugurated in May 1933, the market has connected Montréal islanders to local food growers and makers, horticulturalists, and a myriad of other culturally significant service or product providers.
2. TalyDawn Salyn, University of Calgary, Master of Social Work
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At the Corner of 4th Street & 10th Avenue. Calgary, Alberta

April 18, 2023

Adding color, art, expression, and representation to a concrete space enhances quality in our built environment. This piece by artist Kevin Ledo is special to me because it features Angela Gladue: B-Girl and traditional fancy and hoop dancer. Her image unknowingly brings many communities together. The mural title is SÔHKÂTISIWIN - strength/power in Cree.
3. Twylla Soosay, Athabasca University, Master of Science in Information Systems
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Jonas Applegarth Theatre. Samson Cree Nation, Alberta

December 12, 2022

This is located on the Samson Cree Nation reserve. It was built in 1998 called Nipisihkopahk Secondary School now known as Maskwacis High School. I was a 2nd year teacher at that time and it was a beautiful brand new school that was a treat to be at, especially the theatre. It was named after Jonas Applegarth who was born in 1920. He was an actor, known for Battle Cry (1955) and The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw (1958). He grew up in Hobbema, which is now known as Maskwacis. This picture was taken Dec 2022, with the “Bear Grease” production.
4. Brontë Mutukistna, University of British Columbia, Master of Landscape Architecture
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Layered Places. Vancouver, British Columbia

January 14, 2023

In the forefront sits a constructed salt marsh carved out of previously filled land. Completed in 2017, juvenile chum and chinook salmon have entered the restored tidal marsh, foreshadowing habitable space for future species. In the backdrop, a large vessel is docked, holding grains, like durum, rye, and barley. These grains will be transported across the ocean to Asia and the Middle East. In a single moment, the local and global share space. Their adjacencies negotiate the reality of the built environment, where shoreline habitat restoration projects are balanced alongside Vancouver’s economic stability - a place for species and people.
5. Nicole Hobbins, University of Calgary, Master of Architecture
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Calgary Central Library. Calgary, Alberta

September 20, 2021

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The Calgary Central Library is my example of quality in the built environment. It provides beautiful spaces accessible to many demographics while maintaining a responsibility to environmental stewardship. I believe these are fundamentals of quality, but what makes the library exemplary is the atmosphere it creates, which I attempted to capture in this photo. The integration of wood finishes and natural light creates a warmth that makes me feel welcomed and comfortable, as a library should feel. I love connecting to the outside and witnessing time pass by watching the light and shadow from the oculus move across the central atrium.
The SSHRC Student Photo Competition provided a valuable platform for students to exhibit their talent while highlighting the importance of quality in the built environment from their unique perspectives. The competition's compelling imagery sparked contemplation among viewers, prompting them to reflect on the subject of quality in relation to the built environment.
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We would like to extend our gratitude to the esteemed members of the jury who dedicated their time and expertise to evaluating the submissions:
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  • Josie C. Auger, Athabasca University
  • Robert M. Wright, University of Toronto
  • Terrance Galvin, Laurentian University
Furthermore, we express heartfelt thanks to all the contributors and students who submitted their works for the exhibition. Your participation and artistic contributions made this event a success.
Last but not least, we would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of our organizing committee members and volunteers who ensured the smooth execution of the exhibition:
  • Nooshin Esmaeili, University of Calgary
  • Trishtina Godoy-Contois, Athabasca University
  • Nicole Hobbins, University of Calgary
  • Caelin Sandhurst, University of Calgary
  • Melissa Lengies, Carleton University
  • Dimitri Weibel, Université de Montréal
  • Doug Macleod, Athabasca University
  • Panos Polyzois, University of Manitoba
Your valuable contributions and discerning insights enriched the selection process and added credibility to the exhibition. We are grateful for your commitment to promoting excellence in the arts and architecture. Thank you all for your support and involvement in making this exhibition a memorable experience.