Awards of Excellence — 2013 Recipient

Philippe Lupien, MIRAC
Award Category: 
Awards of Excellence
President’s Award for Media in Architecture

Televised Series: Visite libre

Philippe Lupien, architect, MIRAC, MOAQ, and MAAPQ landscape architect, Canada Council for the Arts’ Prix de Rome Grand nom de l’architecture [great name in architecture], Université Laval UQAM (University of Quebec in Montreal) ambassador.

Philippe Lupien has been promoting architecture in Quebec for nearly 25 years, engaged in a transdisciplinary architectural practice since 1984 (Jacques Rousseau, Atelier KAOS, Scheme consultants). Concomitantly, he has worked as a professor; in 2011, he was the Gerald Sheff Visiting Professorship in Architecture at McGill University and is now professor at l’École de Design de l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and journalist (SILO, ARQ, Le Devoir). While serving on the editorial committee of the ARQ (Architecture Québec) magazine in the 1990s, he directed special issues profiling architects such as Yves Bélanger and Jean Ouellet. More recently, he brought his interest in outreach and communication to the more public arena of television as host and content director of the program Visite libre.

Although Mr. Lupien is also involved in a number of committees (CCU Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie Planning Advisory Committee) and professional and university juries, it is his role giving visibility to the profession with the public that is behind this nomination submission to the President’s Award for Media in Architecture.

The Visite libre program that he has hosted from the first episode (there have been 97 to date, presenting more than 175 residences) was aired for the first time in 2003 and is still in production. This program, dedicated to increasing awareness of residential architecture in Quebec through the experience of its owners, has gradually built up a wide audience on two cultural stations in Quebec and one international station. With roughly 75,000 regular viewers on Artv and 150,000 on Télé‑Québec, this program has introduced the stations’ target audience to the work of more than 100 contemporary architects and restorers in addition to presenting the buildings of 19th- and 20th-century architects.

For four years, the international TV5 monde station has broadcast this program in 200 countries. TV5, which is available to 120 million households and has a general viewership of 54 million, provides widespread promotion of our local architecture. It should be noted that Visite libre is one of the rare cultural programs produced in Quebec to be exported across the five continents.

With the same team of researchers for the past six years, Philippe Lupien has identified and meticulously documented the process leading to each project’s final outcome. He also ensures that each season features a spectrum of concerns and diverse fields of expertise, including renovation, restoration and the exploration of new stylistic and methodological approaches. The strategy is simple: rather than providing renovation tips and advice, the program highlights and elucidates the work of architects while underscoring the importance of quality client-architect collaboration. There is also special focus on the use of solutions that some would call ecological, but which attempt to demonstrate relevant and sustainable technical innovation.      

Jury Comment(s): 

"The Visite Libre series offers the most direct mode of experiencing and understanding architecture, short of the largely untenable option of visiting these private houses in person. The roving camera's  "walk through" of each space, accompanied by the host's insightful and unpretentious observations and questions, allows viewers to engage on a level that is both visceral and informed, as well as entertaining. Authoritative guest hosts such as Phyllis Lambert and Pierre Thibault enhance our intellectual understanding of these projects even further."