5468796 is an architecture firm from Winnipeg, Manitoba founded by partners Johanna Hurme and Sasa Radulovic in 2007. The firm’s name is taken from its registration number. The two founders are from Finland and Yugoslavia respectively. 5468796’s design portfolio includes multi-family, residential, institutional, commercial, office and public works structures. Within a decade of practice, the duo has been highly publicized and celebrated. In 2013, they received the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s Emerging Architectural Practice Award, recognizing them for the quality of their work, its combination of playfulness and rigour, and for the ways in which they engage with contemporary issues of architecture and urbanism.
An eight-city travelling dining event and cultural exchange called Table for 12, positioned 5468796 as Canadian stewards of public engagement, nationally and internationally, with the support of the Canada Council’s Professional Prix de Rome (2013). The showcase event, called Table for 1200, was celebrated in Winnipeg and brought together various members of the public, architects, representatives of large institutions, government and art organizations into a conversation about the power of architecture within cities. This event exemplified 5468796‘s design thinking and provided them with recognition for being at the crux of culture making in Winnipeg.
Much of the work that 5468796 has completed aims to promote a high standard of design despite a small budget. Evidence of this desire can be seen in the OMS Stage (built 2013) in Winnipeg, which won the Governor General’s Medal in Architecture (2014). This open-air performance venue in Old Market Square is a critique of the conventional single-purpose stage design. The project has been widely celebrated for its multi-functional design, which is set up as an object as well as usable space for art events and artists. The exterior wrap is an adaptable set of 20,000 hollow aluminum pieces held together by aircraft cables, giving the OMS stage an overall diamond-like quality. The compilation of aluminum pieces is a playful membrane of light refractions that moves to reveal performances within, supports projections of media, or stands alone as a piece of sculpture within the site. The entire project was completed at a cost of $1 million.
5468796's Bloc_10 (built 2011), winner of the Governor General’s Medal (2012) in Architecture, is another example of the firm’s ambition to ‘think outside the box’. This ‘white-box’ condominium project stands at three stories, includes 10 units and is located on an old gas station site. Each purchased unit is designed unfinished, with only basic mechanical and electrical features provided. The client decides which floor and space to designate desired functions to. Elegantly used cantilevers support both the building’s exterior screen facade as well as provide expanded rooms and balconies. With its striking simplicity, Bloc_10 stands as a refreshing new landmark at the corner of its lot.
A courtyard space is included in many of 5468796’s multi-family and residential projects. Special use of the courtyard design element is exemplified in the Hedge (in documentation phase 2016), a senior apartment complex, where it functions to preserve existing mature cottonwoods on the site.
The courtyard reappears once again in the Centre Village project (built 2010), adding a dynamic quality to the public housing project. As the name of the project implies, it is a self-contained community that centres on a courtyard where an elemental calm is captured, providing a break for the residents from the busyness of the city.
In the Arthur Residence (in construction and documentation phase 2015), four different courtyards are incorporated, each with a different program, providing the living spaces with private moments of connection with the exterior environment. The architectural volumes and forms break open to reveal these courtyards and connect the suburban house to nature. Theserich green spaces highlight 5468796’s desire to continually search for enriching design opportunities.
Building material choices are driven by economics, resulting in a restrained yet celebrated aesthetic. For instance, the Arthur Residence elegantly contrasts raw concrete with stucco to create a poetic softness by revealing the bold nature of the former and the delicate nature of the latter. To create privacy on the second floor, the walls are folded to create triangular openings through which light enters. In a similar manner, material composites were used throughout the Webster Cottage (built 2010) where the interior finishes are coupled with exposed framing and plywood. 5468796 adds a playful combination of lightness to the dark ribbed exterior siding with translucent glass.
The Oz Condos (built 2014) in the heart of Osborne Village use monochromatic colouring to illuminate outdoor spaces, juxtaposing exterior space against the interior living space. The colouring is refined by tectonic detailing on the corrugated metal of the facade which varies from solid to perforated, allowing for a differentiated quality of light throughout the facade, reducing the impact of the larger masses.
Another instance of well-used material is the multifamily residential and commercial program combination of The Avenue on Portage. The two original buildings from the early 1900s are transformed into one contemporary emblem of architectural design, made recognizable by its contrasting materials on the facade. Flat grey paint is used on the facade with reflective metal highlights of the balconies, showing a respectful attitude toward budget while enhancing artistic expression. In contrast to its neighbouring buildings, the highly reflective aluminum balcony cladding adds a sense of dimension reflecting the surroundings. In this way the material choices root the building in its context.
Awards and Publications
5468796 has been extensively rewarded for their innovative design work, gaining international recognition as well. Their work has been published nationally by magazines like Maclean’s (2012) and internationally by magazines such as Italy’s The Plan (2015). OMS Stage and Bloc_10 both received Governor General’s Medals in Architecture (2014 and 2012 respectively) and the RAIC (Royal Architectural Institute of Canada) Award of Excellence (2011 and 2013 respectively). The Canadian Architect Award of Excellence, amongst several other awards, has recognized the firm for Bloc_10 (2010) and Arthur Residence (2014). In 2011, the firm won the Arthur Erickson Memorial Award, followed in 2010–15 by multiple Prairie Design Awards and Premier Design Awards of Excellence. They have been included and featured in numerous publications, including an ode to applied radical architecture by Gestalten Press titled The Sky’s the Limit.