Samantha Eby, who graduated from the Daniels Faculty's Master of Architecture program in 2019, has been named the recipient of the 2020 Prix de Rome in Architecture for Emerging Practitioners, a prestigious $34,000 prize awarded annually by the Canada Council for the Arts to a recent architecture graduate who has demonstrated potential in contemporary architectural design.
This is the third year in a row that a Daniels Faculty alumnus has won the prize. The other two recent Daniels Faculty recipients were Kinan Hewitt, who graduated in 2018, and David Verbeek, who graduated in 2017.
The Prix de Rome prize money can be used to finance travel to sites of architectural research interest. Once pandemic-related travel restrictions are lifted, Eby plans to use her new funding to make research trips to Australia, Germany, and Austria, so that she can visit and document examples of collective and non-profit housing developments. She hopes to gain a deeper understanding of the ownership models, financing practices, and planning policies that have made such developments possible.
Her interest in collective housing stems from her Daniels Faculty thesis project, for which she investigated new ways of adding affordable multi-unit housing to Toronto's single-detached neighbourhoods. "My research is looking for unrealized opportunities in Canada for new forms of housing that are outside the current practices of financing and site development," she says. "I'm looking at questions of how housing in Canada can be more than just a commodity, and how, by using communal financing and development practices, we can make multi-unit housing more accessible, sustainable, and desirable."
Images from Eby's Daniels Faculty thesis project.
"As an architect, Samantha balances a deep curiosity for the economies that contribute to architecture and urbanism with a provocative and tangible design sensibility," says Eby's thesis advisor, assistant professor Michael Piper. "Her thesis research about collective development models, the calculus of site selection, and the design of beautifully sensible housing demonstrates this unique combination of skills."
Eby says this fully funded travel opportunity will be a rare chance for her to elaborate upon some of the design concepts she studied during her time at Daniels. "I think, as architects, we often have very idealistic approaches, where we think we can change the world with our ideas — which is something that is amazing in school and often gets crushed when you get out into the real world," she says. "This is a really good opportunity for me to challenge myself to push back against those real-world constraints, and consider thoughtful and convincing ways to understand pro formas for development, how different ownership models actually work, and what the barriers are to these new architectural typologies."
Even as she has continued to pursue her research, Eby has been working in the architectural field. For the past two years, she has been an intern architect at Toronto-based Batay-Csorba Architects.