Deconstructing Architecture: The Canadian War Museum

The Canadian War Museum in Ottawa is sustainably designed with the notion of regeneration. At the back it rises gently  out of the landscape in some places barely visible. In the summer its green roof sways with approx 10,684 square metres of native grasses further integrating the building into the surroundings. In the winter I love how minimalist it appears from different angles, how the materials used and the cement in particular, soften against the snow. Every angle intriguing.

While nature may be ravaged by human acts of war, it inevitably survives, regenerates and renews itself.Raymond Moriyama, Architect

All images © Karen McRae

57 thoughts on “Deconstructing Architecture: The Canadian War Museum

    1. It’s a very thoughtful building. The back really does look very bunker like and that large “shard” looks like a ship from some angles. I love how it reads so many different ways.

  1. The snow really sets off the architecture. I really like stark buildings, being a child of the sixties. The use of natural materials is impressive and would love to see the seasonal changes taking place.

  2. Love the architecture – and you have composed all the photos so well so we can see how it is placed. It looks like a building that interacts with its surroundings. My favorite is the last one. Love the minimalism. 🙂

  3. This reminds me of the Imperial War Museum Manchester, with its offset angles and disturbed lines. As schietree said, a hunkered down bunker. Great photos, the snow makes such a difference to pictures as well.


  4. What a fascinating building. I really like the lines in the first photo, and the one with the three trees and the building peeking out in the background, and the one I’m assuming is the front of the museum. Since you are an architect, I was wondering if you’ve seen the museum in Alexandria (designed by Norwegian architects). It is also a fascinating building – inside and out. Here’s a link if you’re interested.

  5. Oh I’m not an architect! But I love architecture, and do architectural photography.
    The museum in the link you sent is gorgeous. Museum architecture is often very outstanding, as is Norwegian design!

  6. Really interesting structure. It provokes mixed feelings for me. The snow and the concrete walls seem quite ominous, especially with the industrial roller door, but I really like how the street frontage leans out toward you. Will you take some more later in the year when there’s grass maybe?

  7. You find the beauty others may miss. These photos are gorgeous. The one of the entrance has a bit of a dizzying affect on me. I had to find the trees and lamp posts to hang onto. 😉

  8. What a fantastic building – it sits so well in the snow. I think Canadians must have a more acute sensitivity to how a building looks in its surroundings – and what it says about its purpose. Not designing a building on paper and then just plunking it down somewhere. I visited the Canadian Museum of Civilization a few years ago and thought the building itself was a statement.

    1. Lois it’s so interesting to watch how buildings change through the seasons.
      I confess that a lot of our buildings do seem rather thoughtless though, housing in particular. Gorgeous landscapes and ecosystems completely decimated to put in sprawling cookie cutter houses. We have some great architecture and some not so great…

  9. What an interesting architecture! Geometrical and awesomely weird. And after that with all that snow around, it just came out perfectly in your photos. Nice work. Those tress are my favorites thought. Real warriors. 😉


  10. These are great architectural/environmental photos. The snow really helps simplify and exaggerate the form and lines of the building.

  11. I haven’t heard of ‘sustainable design’ until this article. It’s a hopeful concept that fits perfectly with the theme–and you’ve made a great set of this building! =)

      1. I’m sending your blog information to a young architect who is just full of creative juices 🙂 Thinking about it more. I’m going to send it to a few of my friends – no need to answer. Have a good day, Carla

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