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Competition: Winnipeg Market Lands

An open international contest has been announced for a major mixed-use regeneration project in central Winnipeg, Canada (Deadline: 14 September)

Open to all local and international teams, the competition seeks visionary proposals for a landmark new 100-unit residential urban renewal scheme featuring a 700m² market building and 1,500m² public plaza.

The project, backed by the CentreVenture Development Corporation, will transform a prominent city centre plot currently occupied by a Brutalist car park and a former Public Safety Building which was vacated two years ago (pictured). The winner will receive a CAD$100,000 prize and a design contract.

Public Safety Building, Winnipeg

Public Safety Building, Winnipeg

Source: Image by Herb Neufeld

Public Safety Building, Winnipeg

According to the brief: ‘The vision for the project is to create a new urban destination with a pedestrian oriented internal plaza, zero setback buildings, public, open, and permeable spaces at the ground level, transparent residential connections with balconies or terraces and a granular, intense, informal, urban market – one that enables local vendors to create their own environment, texture and character in a daylight-filled winter-city structure.

‘The competition is for a design that includes a new 100-unit affordable housing complex, a 700m² market building and a 1,500m² plaza. Emphasis will be on architectural design excellence and a creative, pragmatic and vibrant urban design solution centred on a quantifiable energy use intensity target.’

Winnipeg – which means ‘muddy water’ in Cree – has been an important trading centre for thousands of years and is often referred to as the ‘Gateway to the West’ due to its many railroad connections.

Located within Winnipeg’s ‘Exchange District’, the 0.97 hectare Market Lands were the site of the city’s original public market in the early 19th century.

The prominent site – bounded by James Avenue, King Street, William Avenue, and Princess Street – is currently occupied by a disused Brutalist car park and a Public Safety Building. CentreVenture Development Corporation revealed plans earlier this year to redevelop the northernmost parts of the block. 

Contest site

Contest site

Contest site

The contest focuses on the southernmost 0.32 hectare plot within the block which contains an underground passageway to nearby Winnipeg City Hall. Surrounding landmarks include the Manitoba Centennial Centre, Old Market Square, Chinese Cultural Centre, and Red River College’s downtown campus.

Up to five teams will be invited to draw up conceptual designs following an open request for qualifications round. Participating teams must feature at least one member registered with the Provincial Architectural Associations in Canada.

Judges include Angela Mathieson from CentreVenture; John Kiernan from the City of Winnipeg; Alan Tate of the University of Manitoba; and Eladia Smoke of Smoke Architecture.

The overall winner will receive a CAD$100,000 prize and the design commission. The four finalists will also receive an honorarium worth CAD$10,000 each.

How to apply


The deadline for applications is 14 September

Contact details

City Place 88-333 St. Mary Avenue
MB R3C 4A5

Tel: 204.954.7733

Visit the competition website for more information

Q&A with Angela Mathieson

CentreVenture’s president and chief executive discusses her ambitions for the contest

Angela Mathieson

Why are your holding an international competition for a new affordable housing and market development in Winnipeg?

We have chosen to sponsor an international design competition for the Market Lands because the site is so important, at the centre of Winnipeg’s Exchange District, a National Historic Site of Canada, an area rich with turn-of-the-century and Modernist architecture. The Market Lands site was the historic centre of trade and commerce in Winnipeg, and housed the city’s first public market in the late 1800s. Today, the neighbourhood is the heart of Winnipeg’s artistic and cultural community. A design competition allows for innovative ideas to emerge from a diversity of design professionals, with experiences across the globe, to ensure the best possible outcome for this important site. Winnipeg is re-embracing a culture of design, with great new emerging architectural talent, a growing list of impressive architectural works, and a keen appreciation for how design can transform the quality of life in our city.

Public Safety Building, Winnipeg

Public Safety Building, Winnipeg

Source: Image by ccyyrree

Public Safety Building, Winnipeg

What is your vision for the new market and housing development?

The contest site is a third of a hectare, the most southern parcel of the larger Market Lands redevelopment site. CentreVenture led a year-long citizen engagement process to establish the aspirations and programme for the site, which will include an affordable housing building and a public market building, surrounded by active outdoor public spaces. We envision the site becoming a bustling public destination, with strong sense of community identity and pride, showcasing design and environmental innovation. Contextually, the site is uniquely situated – adjacent to a mid-century modern City Hall (1963), the Chinese Cultural and Community Centre (1986) and the Exchange District National Historic Site (early 1900s). The design will need to respond to this varied context.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

We are hoping that a wide range of architectural and design professionals will submit responses to the competition. The competition is open internationally, from small to large, new to long established professional firms.

Public Safety Building, Winnipeg

Public Safety Building, Winnipeg

Source: Image by ccyyrree

Public Safety Building, Winnipeg

Are there any recent innovative market and housing projects you have been impressed by?

We are inspired by projects that incorporate a mix of uses and user groups to make a really diverse community. There are so many interesting models, but we do not want to prejudice the outcome of the competition. We are hoping that teams will take the results from our citizen engagement process and pair that with precedents from around the world and their creative ideas.

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