Emerging Architectural Practice Award - 2021 Recipient | Royal Architectural Institute of Canada

Emerging Architectural Practice Award - 2021 Recipient

Leckie Studio Architecture + Design
Award Category: 
Emerging Architectural Practice Award


Leckie Studio is an 20-person practice based in Vancouver, led by Principal Architect and founder Michael Leckie. Michael received a Master of Architecture Degree from the University of British Columbia in 2003 and went on to found Leckie Studio Architecture + Design in 2015 as a platform to craft singular, thought-provoking, and imaginative architectural work.

The studio is understood as a vehicle for creative speculation, expanding the boundaries of traditional architecture practice through research, client commissions, and self-initiated projects that combine practice with creative entrepreneurship.  Rooted in a rigorous architectural methodology, the work of Leckie Studio spans a range of scales and typology – including buildings, installations, product design, and environmental design. The studio’s current portfolio of work is intentionally diversified in both typology and scale across Canada, the United States, and Mexico. Leckie Studio’s design philosophy is deeply rooted in mindfulness practice and an essentialist approach to life and work.

In this essentialist approach to architecture, each entity is understood to contain a set of attributes—inherent to both its identity and function. In this manner, form and function are closely interrelated, as are form and materiality. Michael’s work has many specific influences, but the ethos of German designer Dieter Rams — Less But Better — is one of the studio’s primary working mantras.

Leckie Studio believes that sustainability is an inherent aspect of responsible architectural practice, working with clients to develop appropriate benchmarks for each project. Their approach to sustainability is carefully considered— in terms of the longevity and life cycle of projects through an approach to design that is lasting, resilient, and relevant.

Leckie is a practice rooted in the Cascadia Region — practicing in the margins with a perspective that situates their work regionally and temporally. Cascadia is an outlier region that exists at the edge of the continent, spanning a geographical area that crosses the border between Canada and The United States - stretching from Alaska to Portland. With a relatively unified cultural identity throughout the region, Cascadia relates more closely to itself than other regions of Canada or the United States. Kenneth Frampton’s seminal 1983 treatise Towards a Critical Regionalism: Six Points for an Architecture of Resistance described an alternative to the threat of universalization that was observed at the time. Frampton claimed: It is my contention that Critical Regionalism continues to flourish sporadically within the cultural fissures that articulate in unexpected ways the continents of Europe and America. These borderline manifestations may be characterized, after Abraham Moles, as the “interstices of freedom."

We are honoured that the work of the studio has been recognized by our peers at the RAIC with the Emerging Architectural Practice Award. Architecture requires the coordinated work of many hands - we are grateful for the disciplined work of the studio team, our clients, and collaborators.

In architectural terms, Leckie Studio utilizes an approach rooted in the foundations of critical regionalism – the tenets of which Leckie understands to be as relevant now as ever before. They strive to understand and create a sense of place grounded in both site and context that operates across scales of time and perception. Ultimately, they give preference to a kind of slowness in the work, where the rigour reveals itself over time to the patient observer.

Jury Comment(s): 

In a short time, Leckie Studio Architecture + Design has produced a diverse collection of exquisite projects which demonstrate their extraordinary commitment to regionalism and their skillful understanding of materials, all evidenced by the enthusiastic support of their clients. Their work demonstrates careful attention to craft, materiality, and the specificity of place. The various projects enter an elegant dialogue with nature, and the use of wood contributes to this integration.

Leckie Studio has produced beautiful and well executed buildings, showing a depth of research, craft and understanding of materiality. They have also demonstrated a commitment to sustainability with their focus on research into sustainable prefabricated mass-timber construction. With their lovely DIY (do-it-yourself) cabin, they offer a refreshing option for the construction of small remote cabins, incredibly accessible to anyone with basic building skills. Their work displays a high degree of conceptual clarity and attention to detail in executing an impressive breadth for a young firm, spanning from private residences to public buildings. There is no doubt, Leckie Studio has a bright future ahead.

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