Posted on Feb 27, 2012
Creators: Ted Cavanagh, Richard Kroeker, Roger Mullin, Alden Neufeld, and 23 designers/builders of the Faculty of Architecture and Planning, Dalhousie University
Nominator: Grant Wanzel
Le Théâtre Petit Cercle playfully engages the infamous Suette winds of Cheticamp in this community project moored to a playground slide. In 2004, the French-speaking town celebrated 400 years of European settlement in Canada by hosting an international festival. This permanent outdoor theatre for children’s festival events has become the seed for a future arts camp to promote Acadian culture and local ways of building. Beginning with a surrealistic, derelict playground, instructors and students learned lessons from local construction, building rock-ballasted wooden cribwork walls “transparent to the wind.” The playground slide with windsock banner anchors the structure at a child-height entry, and suggests making an exciting, sliding “grand entry.” The walls are woven onto vertical ribs made from one-by-fours laminated each side of tapered blocking. One-by-three slats are set diagonally, screwed onto the inside and outside of the ribs creating a “cavity” partly filled with rock to ballast the structure during a Suette. Like boat hulls or baskets, the three dimensional curvature creates stiffness with relatively thin material. In fifteen days, the theatre was designed, built and nearly paid for.
Jury Comments: This work captures beautifully the sense of community which the arts can inspire and challenges us all to be innovative and involved with our communities. Le Petit Cercle is a team effort, a marriage of respected architects from Halifax and members of the Cheticamp community.
They created and erected a building that represents an ongoing and dazzling sense of wonder. The design is bold, innovative and visually startling. Made of local materials, it includes a focus on youth and exhibits a sense of function. It reflects back to the community and anyone who visits the area, the natural stark beauty, romance and human activity in this area of Cape Breton.
The work represents a permanent, visible source of pride for the local community and the entire province which will continue to be an inspiration for other artists.