Williamson Chong’s post-Prix de Rome research on the architectural application of new, innovative wood products was recently featured in The Globe and Mail. The article is part of the newspaper's five-part series, The New Radicals, exploring innovators in arts and culture.
Williamson Chong is the firm of Betsy Williamson, Associate Professor Shane Williamson, and Alumnus Donald Chong. After winning the Professional Prix de Rome in Architecture in 2012, the trio embarked on a international tour to learn about the design opportunities inherent in the use of cross-laminated timber (CLT), engineered wood that debuted “fifteen years ago in Austria and has gained traction through the green building movement ever since.”
Their research will be displayed as part of the exhibition“Living Wood” opening on Thursday, November 20 at Corkin Gallery. The exhibition will explore “wood's material history by extracting artifacts from a digital exploration of the effect of mass movements in the landscape on the growth and form of trees."
Writes Ellen Himelfarb in The Globe and Mail:
For a small architecture practice to be making such strides in wood construction, not to mention its artistic application, is a rare accomplishment. Yet Williamson Chong, after barely four years in business (after stints at other firms, including Shim-Sutcliffe, architects of the Corkin Gallery – small world), has managed to close in on something of a golden rule. “Shane, who [is] a professor at the University of Toronto’s faculty of architecture, offers an uncompromising critical outlook,” says his wife, Betsy Williamson. “He’s the feedback loop in the office, always saying, ‘We could push that a bit further.’”
While they may not have the resources to innovate like the Fosters and Gehrys of the world, they make it their method to “work really hard in the scope of every project to find one or two things that can be really great,” says Betsy Williamson. Sometimes those “things” are monolithic wood feature walls or slimmer staircases to allow in more sunlight; other times they are bold concepts.
Their Natural Light prototype house, for instance, won a Gold Award from Toronto’s Interior Design Show for its upside-down nature, in which the architects “hoisted up” the common rooms into the sky-lit pitched roof and lowered the bedrooms in the more private, darker half. “It meant the rest of the house could be simple,” Williamson says. “Some projects come to you with all this [interest] built in – meat you can sink teeth into. Other projects you have to work hard to make interesting.”
For the full article, visit The Globe and Mail’s website.
Associate Professor Shane Williamson will present a public lecture at the Daniels Faculty on March 24, 2015.