Contributing to the architectural quality of public buildings

A design for new buildings or a new public space may be obtained through calls for tender or a public-private partnership. However, more and more democratic countries are turning to the concept of architectural, landscape or urbanism competitions. These differ from competitive tendering by their openness to innovation and their more qualitative process, with the projects being judged primarily on the basis of their intrinsic qualities. However, this concept is threatened by its somewhat spectacular nature, which tends to propel the winner into the media spotlight while the other entries are relegated to the shadow. 

And yet, the history of architecture includes many "unrealized" projects that continue to exert an influence on culture well beyond the competition and constitute a real "heritage of potential architecture ". The Laboratoire d'étude de l'architecture potentielle (Research Laboratory of Potential Architecture), directed by Jean-Pierre Chupin from Université de Montréal, has designed a database of projects and a search engine with the ability to search through data from more than 40% of the architectural competitions held in Canada since 1945, or more than 20,000 documents from several thousand projects! Since going on line in 2006, the Catalogue of Canadian competitions has become an international research model. 

This reference tool provides elected officials and public administrators with data for developing informed public policy. Professional experts have access to valuable information to guide their working practices, and the general public can learn more about the work of the designers. The laboratory's work regularly supports cultural policies at provincial and municipal levels. The organization of an international architecture competition for the new pavilion of the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec in 2009-2010 profited from the group's expertise, and its diffusion in the Catalogue of Canadian Competitions largely contributed to its international exposure.


Laboratoire d'étude de l'architecture potentielle


Jean-Pierre Chupin, Université de Montréal

Regular members

  • Georges Adamczyk, Université de Montréal 
  • Denis Bilodeau, Université de Montréal 
  • Pierre Boudon, Université de Montréal 
  • Pierre Boyer-Mercier, Université de Montréal 
  • Anne Cormier, Université de Montréal 
  • Jacques Lachapelle, Université de Montréal 
  • Louis Martin, Université du Québec à Montréal 
  • Daniel Pearl, Université de Montréal