SOUTHEAST ASIA BUILDING14 Oct 2021
Interview with SvN Architects: Computational Design and Virtual Collaboration
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SvN Architects have announced the appointment of four new management positions; two new Partners, a Director of Latin America and a Director of Digital Practice. These new appointments build upon their unique strengths as a transdisciplinary practice, committed to delivering holistic city-building solutions for both public and private sector clients. Terence Tourangeau is now Director of Digital Practice in the company. He will navigate realms of computational design and virtual collaboration to extend the knowledge infrastructure that underpins SvN. He tells SEAB about his role and how he intends to use digital technology in his work.

SEAB: What is your role as Director of Digital Practice in the company?

TERENCE:  As the Director of Digital Practice, I oversee the physical and virtual infrastructure, which represents the catalyst for our work. My role is as much about what we have today as speculating what we will have or need tomorrow. We need to anticipate the best ways to implement emerging tools and technologies available to us. Innovative technologies help shape and transform our work.

SEAB: We understand that you will explore computational design and virtual collaboration to extend the knowledge infrastructure that underpins SvN. Can you share your plans with us?

TERENCE: Our world can seem as though it’s evolving faster than our capacity to adapt. Meanwhile, the global pandemic has proven that we can quickly adapt to fundamental changes. Some of the digital tools that we have adapted into our daily lives over the past 18 months include Miro and other Google Workspace applications. These adoptions are likely to remain essential collaboration tools. When it comes to our work, we are always looking at what’s new and exciting in the world. Many new tools have piqued our interest that we are looking forward to implementing!

SEAB: How are you including sustainability in your agenda?

TERENCE:  Our firm values the importance of speculating and looking ahead. SvN has several "research engines" in the office, which explore varied topics as biodiversity or housing. From a research and development perspective, our goal is to underwrite a body of research that informs our work and builds meaningful conversations with clients and the broader community. Our post-carbon research group has allowed us to invest in new approaches to energy modelling that become fully integrated into our practice. And our biodiversity research group is helping us conceptualize and respond to the space in and around our buildings. As architects and urban planners, we think about how the built environment impacts the local micro-climate and ecosystem. Through new design research, our landscape practice is critical to building up that awareness.

SEAB: Has the pandemic created any challenges for you in maintaining the company culture?

TERENCE: The challenges the global pandemic has created are impossible to deny: we have fundamentally changed how we interact with each other. It’s less about maintaining the company culture than adapting to circumstances beyond our control. As the result of COVID-19, we established several new initiatives to keep us connected--whether that’s virtual games nights, informal video calls, or distanced outdoor park meetups. We’ve discovered many new ways of doing business through this transformation that will undoubtedly remain a part of our practice for years to come.

Photos 1 & 2: Terence Tourangeau is currently working on the revitalization of Alexandra Park in the heart of downtown Toronto, Canada. This ambitious city-building endeavour aims to rebuild and rejuvenate the Alexandra Park community as a vibrant and  pedestrian-oriented neighbourhood. A lush exterior garden (pictured) dramatically slopes up the building, establishing outdoor recreation space for all residents. The Alexandra Park project recently won a Best High-Rise Building Design at this year’s BILD Awards. Photos: © SvN Architects+ Planners and CS+P Architects