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Sputnik Architecture is a small practice interested in developing a body of work that demonstrates a curiosity and exploration with, building materials; fabrication and manufacturing techniques; life, cultural, and social patterns; and the effects of light in shaping and animating architecture. Our projects are relatively small in scale and we enjoy testing our ideas through rapid prototyping and direct sourcing with our fabrication partners. Sputnik Architecture is located at Unit C - 107 Osborne Street in Winnipeg Manitoba, Canada.
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An iconic form that reminds visitors at once of granaries, houses, and fishing shacks. Small simple buildings that are ubiquitous, simple, and beautiful. The design intends to parlance in a manner that is both familiar and new- a shape we recognize, but a combination of materials and colours we do not. The clear delineation of fundamental elements creates an ideological ‘gap’ between the past and the future. We exist in that gap and in a very small way, this building shall celebrate this gap.

The building consists of three elements:
Skin- A plywood wrapped in waterproof membrane.
Frame- A steel frame providing rigid support for moving equipment.
Shell- Powder coated aluminium panels in red and white that celebrates the vitality of Canada’s multiculture.
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The home was studied for six years before permanent modifications were made. With children, pets and parents constantly entering and exiting the house, the decision was made to centralize the entrances along the side of the house. This gesture also utilizes otherwise wasted land between the tightly packed houses in Osborne Village. The entrance to the house because the anchor for all other spatial arrangements on the main floor. The use of natural light, with the expansion and contraction of volumes are the primary tools for achieving the esprit for this home. As design work evolved, the exercise became less about forcing a new aesthetic and more an exercise of archeological discovery. Opening up certain structures, or volumes led to new possibilities and delight, while carefully maintaining the themes that had developed in the home during its 100 year history. This project was also very carefully, and technically assimilated with the restoration and preservation of the home at 109 Cauchon St. Both homes were lifted several feet into the air, while the rubble foundations were removed and new foundations poured below. Both homes were then carefully lowered onto new basements.
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Concrete is massive, masculine, stable, absorbing, and stoic. Polycarbonate panels are light, dynamic, reflective, ephemeral and feminine. Wood is warm and soothes. These materials wrap and protect all of life and beauty within this home. The building’s skin is perforated to allow fingers of sunlight through the volumes to a lovely collection of art.
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The building is conceived primarily as a shell that meanders amidst the dappled light of the tall pines. The structure bends and undulates amongst these old ‘citizens’ allowing for visitors to enjoy their scents and whispers. This symbolic gesture represents an attempt to use the building as a bridge between memories of the past and the countless opportunities and hope nested in the future of Edmonton’s vibrant population.

The building bridges the realms between the cultures of sport, art and recreation. The building demonstrates the principles of sustainability, encourages participation in sports ranging from ultimate Frisbee to speed skating, and provides a galleria for the display of public art. The building will weave itself into the fabric of Edmonton’s cultural landscape.

The existing speed skating oval generates the roots of the narrative for the building form and architectural syntax. Canadian speed skaters have made all Canadians proud with their feats of speed and power, establishing world records and winning Olympic medals along the way. The iconic image of the speed skater in full stride, muscles rippling, face grimacing with concentration and pain have inspired the architectural gesture of pulling the cladding over the supple arches. The sharp roof edges, and interplay of forms culminate in a gap between the two canopies that is adjacent to the finish line of the skating oval. The tension created at this gap symbolically represents the tension of the athletes reaching for the finish.

The building’s primary axis is east-west allowing for maximum solar gain. While no wind studies were available, it is assumed that cold winter winds will likely follow the course of the valley, or fall off the valley wall north of the site. The east west orientation mitigates building surface exposed to the wind. The north face of the building is low limiting exposure to the winds falling from the valley wall.

An efficient layout of space comprised of three primary “lungs” support three separate programmatic elements- a community lecture space, a change area for Nordic skiing and speed skating, and the Edmonton Speed Skating Club training facilities. The lecture hall, skate change area, and exercise room all have natural lighting on both north and south facing sides. The glazing to the north is significantly reduced relative to the quantity of glazing facing south. The lecture hall has views in three directions and is set immediately into the tall pines to create an oasis within the centre of Edmonton that could be used for many activities from music recitals to yoga workshops.

Between the building “lungs” are the functional cores of the building: the kitchen, washrooms, storage rooms, mechanical & electrical room, ski wax room, and Zamboni storage. The plan also indicates a potential location for showers if required by the speed skaters. This arrangement of spaces allows appropriate control for programmed spaces to ensure that more than one interest group can use the spaces when required.

The long canopy extends from the building to the ice surface. This spine serves as the primary gallery for public art. The wedge of forest nestled between the building and the canopy will serve as the trailhead for the running, walking and Nordic ski trails. This wooded area would also serve a sculpture garden. The view from the building ‘lungs’ through the slender tree trunk and structural elements toward the skaters, and skiers epitomizes the complete harmony of between building, human activity, landscape, and art.
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After having difficulty finding a decent bike basket, we decided do employ techniques we use every day to come up with one of our own. First we came up with a detachable, one-piece paper prototype designed to be cut by a laser. Our second attempt is a colourful polypropylene version, this one benefits from the toughness, flexibility and weather resistant characteristics of the material.
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Thin house is an exercise in efficient spatial planning. The goal is to create two buildings on two separate lots lot each measuring 17 feet by 50 feet. Each building will allow for two suites. One being a bachelor and the other having 3 bedrooms. We experimented with various layouts and ways the suites could interact with one another, considering shared spaces, sun path and material finishes describing interior programming.
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This 100 year old home was connected physically to the home located at 113 Cauchon St. A concrete tunnel had been constructed during the Thirties between the basements of these two homes. Legend suggests that the original builder of the homes lived in one and converted the other into a boarding house. In order to save his wife the trouble of walking outside between when the coal boiler needed stoking, they built a tunnel to connect the houses. Above the tunnel each home had a washroom that crossed the property line. In the modern era this arrangement was not allowed and these “easements” had to be demolished.

The main floor suite is now the home to Sputnik Architecture giving Peter Hargraves one of Winnipeg’s shortest and most delightful commutes. The second and third floors of the home have been converted into a 4 bedroom apartment.
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Inspired by the decrepit barns throughout our rural landscape, Carcass, is both a eulogy and a celebration. The warming hut is constructed of laminated wood rafters, and skinned in aluminium and polycarbonate panels. The form is intended to describe the tension between past, present and future; from time pre-historic to time held captive in the imagination. The ‘nested’ pieces by Jon Pylypchuk keep their beady, wild eyes, ever focused and watchful over the skaters.
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Up a fire escape in a back alley, behind one of Winnipeg’s most up and coming commercial strips used to be a fire damaged third floor apartment. Stripped of its walls and just about everything else, we were able to go back to the drawing board. The result is a great little one-bedroom apartment overlooking all the action.
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The Lakewood project involved renovating a portion of underused space in an existing school. Our proposal called for an improved pick-up and drop off area, easily accessible and sheltered outdoor play areas, a central kitchen, bathroom facilities and a staff area. The plan ultimately provided space for eight infants and twenty-four toddlers in accordance to the legislated Manitoba space requirements. Window placement and room layouts were based on sun paths, prevailing wind direction and clear sight lines to offer a pleasant and safe environment staff and young people.
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Garwood house required the sub-division of an existing residential lot in a well-established neighborhood in Winnipeg. We introduced a cut into the building initially to break up the long façade and provide the opportunity for more glazing units. This cut became the main hub of the building, serving as the main entry, providing vertical transportation and access to rest of the home, space for washroom facilities and unexpected views. Our client was interested in pursuing a modern looking home aesthetically in contrast to the existing home that would be next door.
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This project involved renovating 4000 sq. ft of recently vacated office space to accommodate new offices, meeting rooms, administration areas and circulation space all with access to natural light.
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Crestview School was interested in converting two existing classrooms into a new daycare facility for infants and toddlers. To make up for this two other existing rooms, on the other side of the school, would be renovated to accommodate two new classrooms. The plan also called for updating a series of administrative offices to suit our clients changing needs.
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When a local auto body and collision repair shop contacted with hopes of updating their office and customer service area, we took a close look at their current space and how it worked. People usually bring their vehicles in early. Often on their way to work. Making between 7 and 8 AM the most hectic time of day. We were there first thing in the morning and observed the flow in and out, customer and staff behavior and movement of files through the office and into the shop. Using the data we collected that morning we could suggest ways the space could be used more efficiently. These include centralizing copy/fax/print units with file storage. This move also creates a buffer between the office and the bustling shop floor. A modified front counter allows more room for each employee and clearly defines boundaries for customers.
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After visiting the site, examining the building, spending some quality time in the LoPub and following a brief study of the building's history, we proposed an intervention that involved returning much of the main floor to parking. The specific urban fabric neighboring the buildings would render any effort to develop Webb Place or the side alleys into meaningful or delightful spaces difficult. This is not to say further study of these environments will not produce effective solutions to the issues currently experienced there.

A great location and surface parking space we can live with. These statements we feel summarize the approach we proposed. By focusing the programming on the ground floor the A grade real estate along Ellice Avenue could effectively create a presence that is obviously missing. In particular, we proposed moving the Lo Pub to the Ellice Avenue side of the building, and returning the space currently occupied by the Lo Pub into parking. The final architectural move would be to open up the courtyard by removing the walls from one structural bay along the western side of the building. This final gesture would open potential for the alley to play a key role in making the building a three dimensional phenomenon but demonstrating to each passerby that a wonderful courtyard exists within the perimeter of the building. This dissection would also establish the potential for the building to be divided into five suites. Having five suites would improve the prospect of leasing the space to greater number of small companies needing 4500 sq .ft rather than the 9500 sq. ft represented by a whole floor plate.
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This residential project involved modifying an existing single story home with a basement, resulting in a two story building with a crawlspace. Having learned a great deal about lifting houses with the Cauchon projects, we endeavored to resolve a number of technical flaws with the original construction of the home by reinforcing the foundation system, filling in the basement with gravel, and building a new main floor at grade in order to provide the home occupant direct access to his home from the driveway. The occupant, who is mobile through the use of a wheelchair is now able to engage his yard with vistas from the second floor spaces rather than small basement windows.


This project called for the renovation of an existing home to provide the client barrier free access. This included the addition of a wheelchair lift from the garage into the living space, a barrier free washroom, and new kitchen with a custom island and a deck with a wheelchair ramp.
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I’m concerned about what I have forgotten. I can’t remember what I have forgotten, except for those occasions when I experience something completely new Then my memory is jogged and I have for a fleeting moment an open window into my past. I then remember some small piece of what I had forgotten and inspiration is born! Our experiences create a landscape within our memories and new experiences cause us to reinvent those memories through the warp of time and the new experience. As a designer, it is important to harness both the power of our memory and the catalyst of new experiences.

I think socially we develop cultural memory and today we are establishing new cultural memories. Every culture has a landscape and if this landscape is thought of as a collection of memories we can then use it as the foundation of future experience.

In the same way, a physical landscape can be viewed as the remnants of processes or “geological” memories. These memories are sometimes hidden under layers of sediment that settle above earlier events. By scratching the surface we begin to reveal the history below.

In this way I think it is important to scratch our own mental landscape to reveal that which is forgotten. Within a collaborative we have the added advantage of witnessing the mental landscapes of those who we work with. Our dwelling therefore represents not so much a paradigm of for design in a specific landscape, or the act of momentary settlement, but the constant shifting of thought and memory that plays such an important role in the creation of new ideas and experiences.

I was seven years old when I stepped off the platform at the Ladysmith train station and onto a train bound for Johannesburg. I had just kissed goodbye my Goko, Gran and Grandad. A few minutes later the train began to rumble north, and we all began to cry.

Six months later I was shivering in Winkler, Manitoba. I was sad at times for the want of the red soil of our old farm under my feet, or playing in the shade of the Uncamba trees. But I was happy too because I could walk on water, frozen water. I had just made the profound discovery that the cold could bite the tips of your fingers, and ears, and that just because the sun was shining it didn’t mean the temperature was hot.
I think more than anything, I have learned to be comfortable with the idea that I am not native. That perhaps my fading memories from childhood evolve and play an important role in the structure of the lens through which I see the world.

I can barely remember the most important migration of my life. The fact that we left has impacted every aspect of my life. I am almost convinced that the few memories I have of that time are false. I have nothing to do with that place. But I still feel a strong connection to it and that has also shaped who I am. I think of that place in an ideal sort of way. Knowing about the connection I have & hearing stories about this place have inspired me as person & as a designer.

When reflecting upon settling and unsettling experiences whilst migrating, I am reminded of simple and yet somehow powerful memories. Being the last chosen for pick-up basketball games in the American inner city. Who is this white boy and what is he doing working construction in our neighborhood? Of trying to navigate the minibuses in Hong Kong without a lick of Cantonese and then being dropped off at McDonald’s rather than at my intended destination blocks down the road. Looking the wrong way whilst crossing the street in London and threatening to put UK social medicine to the test.

The biggest lessons I have learned as a migrant have been to accept my own naivety, to respect differing ways of living, and to consider other practices of thought. In many ways I incorporate the experiences of my personal migrations through nuances within my architecture in ways that I do not immediately recognize at the time of creation.

The funny thing is that I once felt “settled”, but since leaving the small rural setting in which I grew up I have never experienced the full sensation of being fully settled again. On occasion this may be uncomfortable, but at the same time I am now primed to continue on my journey of discovery, whether that be abroad or back in the place of my youth where I currently may be found.
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We were approached by a family who had recently purchased a home with thoughts of immediately renovating. We began planning an extension that took advantage of the riverbank and back yard environment. We came up with a scheme that maintained clear views from inside the existing structure while offering a new sunroom and outdoor deck area. Primary work was completed including widening a basement stair and introducing a large picture window that allowed light to enter the basement via the new stair. We advised our clients to first live in their new house with the completed initial alterations and consider the option future expansion.
 
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