Box Office What's On Calendar Festivals & Activities Subscribe

Installation view of Frieze. Harbourfront Centre. Photography: Tom Bilenkey.


December 10 - December 10, 2018

Kobayashi + Zedda Architects Ltd.

Architects employ sound, light, colour and iconic imagery in their work to stimulate the senses, express emotion, enhance a sense of space, trigger memory, or tell a story. Often, in cold, northern environs, the architect manipulates these components to create a sense of warmth, familiarity and attachment. When done poorly, it is escapism; when done well, it is an architecture that can extract all available energy for the benefit of the user.

Frieze attempts to entice the participant into believing they are entering a cold, empty landscape. Recreating these extreme conditions has helped us, as architects and builders, gain a better understanding of how to avoid them.

The plastic air curtain has an iconic yet humble industrial status. It is thin, clear and penetrable yet opaque in the sense that it is divisive. It can also be beautiful when arranged with precision. It separates two different climate zones: the habitable and the inhabitable. The sheerness of the plastic air curtain is also a reminder of the magnitude of our reliance on human processes and dependence on hydrocarbon-based energy to separate us from nature. The plastic air curtain always distorts light, concealing some part of the reality beyond.


Kobayashi + Zedda work above the 60th parallel, where there are five caribou for every human. In most areas, the ground is permanently frozen.  The minimum January temperature is –52°C. There is little summer to speak of, but the continuous daylight in June convinces you otherwise.

Aboriginal people comprise one of every four inhabitants.  It has only been 70 years since the highway connected them to the outside.  Nomadic in nature, a lack of building archetypes has led them to favour invention as a means of creating an architectural culture.  At one time, we looked to First Peoples to see how they survived with very little.  And we re-composed their archetypes, using somewhat more while others spoke of the completed work and of how much (or little) was there.

Kobayashi + Zedda realize a small community discourages specialization and thus have been known to work on anything as long as there exists a potential to do interesting work.

Life is easier in temperate zones.  To survive up here requires more adaptation.  Inevitably, innovation follows.  Every good northern building is a bridge that closes the gap between two extremes in an effort to maintain balance and harmony.

Kobayashi + Zedda Architects Ltd is a 10-person firm based in Whitehorse, Yukon.

Project Team: Sheelah Tolton, Antonio Zedda, Jack Kobayashi, and Jordy Walker

< Back