Ontario Association of Architects Reveals Landscape Design Competition Winner

The winning design team, Team Chestnut, was led by Nima Javidi and Behnaz Assadi of Ja Architecture Studio, with landscape architect Todd Douglas of Janet Rosenberg & Studio and civil engineer Kayam Ramsewak of MTE Consultants.

Team Chestnut, The Grounding Meadow by Ja Architecture Studio, Janet Rosenberg & Studio, MTE Consultants

The Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) has announced the jury-selected winner of its Landscape Design Competition—an anonymous competition that focused on transforming the OAA property’s landscaping into a more
“sustainable, accessible, artful, and welcoming space.”

The winning design team, Team Chestnut, was led by Nima Javidi and Behnaz Assadi of Ja Architecture Studio, with landscape architect Todd Douglas of Janet Rosenberg & Studio and civil engineer Kayam Ramsewak of MTE Consultants, and was selected for the innovative and sustainable proposal, “The Grounding Meadow.”

The Grounding Meadow by Ja Architecture Studio, Janet Rosenberg & Studio, MTE Consultants

They will be receiving a $20,000 prize and will lead the landscape redesign project at 111 Moatfield Drive in Toronto.

Ja Architecture Studio is a Toronto practice led by an Iranian-Canadian duo: Javidi, who is an OAA Architect, and Assadi, a landscape designer. Their team’s proposal works directly with the site in a minimalist way and allows water to run underneath the meadow, bringing a more natural ecology to the site while welcoming stormwater to support and sustain the habitat.

The project also pays homage to Indigenous communities by including plants of cultural significance, including a
diversity of perennials and grasses that will also attract pollinators, wildlife, and birds.

The Grounding Meadow by Ja Architecture Studio, Janet Rosenberg & Studio, MTE Consultants

“Our project tries to address the two core themes of the competition—climate change and Reconciliation—through one legible protagonist: the ground. We aimed to translate our awareness of the importance of land, its history, and ecology into a spatial and experiential one,” said Javidi.

Javidi and Assadi collaborated with Douglas to develop the landscape of the project, with civil engineering input from MTE Consultants.

“By recalibrating the contours of the site, we converged the flow of water, people, and plants into an ecological threshold where the overlay between the act of entering, the collection of water, and the changing landscape will make the visitors physically aware of the interrelationship between architecture, access, and ecology—an awareness long embedded into the Indigenous way of coexistence with nature,” said Assadi.

The jury praised the design’s embrace of natural systems as well as its integration of public art and stormwater management strategies, alongside its acknowledgment of the Don River watershed. The jury was also impressed by the qualities of the design, including culturally significant plants that support pollinators and wildlife, and its installment of an entry bridge.

“In our practice, we tend to go back and forth between a conceptual approach to architecture and a hands-on model-making method, even at the scale of 1:1,” said Javidi. “In this competition, we quite enjoyed our collaboration with the team. We are collectively excited and honoured that we can now develop the scheme forward in our conversation with the OAA toward an outcome that is both clear in its conceptual ambition and real in its performance.”

In addition to the winner, three $5,000 prizes were awarded to the following Honourable Mentions.

“Catch/Renew/Release,” by Team Basswood (led by Lisa Rapoport of PLANT Architect Inc., with landscape architect Eric Klaver and other members of PLANT Architect and Chesley Blahut of Aplin Martin Consultants Ltd.).

Team Basswood, Catch/Renew/Release by PLANT Architect Inc., Aplin Martin Consultants Ltd.

“4887 Saplings,” by Team Elm (led by Kevin Weiss of Weiss Architecture & Urbanism Ltd., with landscape architect Robert Wright and civil engineer David Sharp of Husson Engineering + Management)

Team Elm, 4887 Saplings by Weiss Architecture & Urbanism Limited, Robert Wright Landscape Architect, Husson Engineering + Management

“Landscape Reconnect,” by Team Ironwood (led by Joël León Danis of Make Good Projects Inc., with landscape architect Victoria Taylor of VTLA Studio and civil engineer Frank Fisl of Watercom Engineering Inc.).

Team Ironwood, OAA Landscape Reconnect by Make Good Projects Inc., VTLA Studio, Watercom Engineering Inc.

The winning design and honourable mentions were revealed at a special reception on Thursday, June 27, at the OAA Headquarters.

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