Slated for completion in 2031, Parliamentary Precinct Block 2 is poised to emerge as a vital civic space, one that expertly weaves together past, present and future. Due to its location across from Ottawa’s Parliament Hill, it was critical that a site of such national importance embody Canadian values — and reflect a more sustainable and inclusive future. This competition-winning proposal by 2023 Pritzker Prize honouree David Chipperfield and Canadian firm Zeidler Architecture more than fits the bill.
Block 2 is imagined not just as a government facility but as a key piece of urban infrastructure. Besides housing offices for the Senate and Members of Parliament, it includes additions to the Library of Parliament and revitalized retail spaces on Sparks Street Mall. Each of the project’s east and west “blocks” — which together comprise 11 buildings of varied sizes, conditions and heritage designations — boasts a landscaped courtyard at its core. The architects refer to these respites as the “breathing lungs of the site.” One of these integral democratic social spaces, dubbed the Peoples’ Square, will host events and ceremonies, blurring the threshold between parliament and the city.
Responsible stewardship — of the environment, the land and the historic context — is the development’s guiding principle. The existing buildings are complemented by new net-zero structures made of mass timber and powered by on-site renewable energy integrated sensitively into the city block. A cohesive material palette unifies old and new. Left exposed to minimize material waste, the new timber structures render the complex with warmth. Meanwhile, reclaimed and recycled finishes imbue the site with character without sacrificing sustainability.
The development is a fittingly understated response to the site’s Gothic revival parliament buildings, respectfully echoing their iconic sandstone facades and patinated copper roofs. Exemplifying sustainability, Indigenous values and heritage conservation in equal measure, its contemporary architectural language reconciles Canada’s charged history with new technology and Indigenous practices. In other words, it’s a true reflection of modern democracy.
Team Vaidila Banelis and David Chipperfield with Edward Chan, Billy Prendergast and Mayuko Kanasugi
Due to its location across from Ottawa’s Parliament Hill, it was critical that a site of such national importance embody Canadian values — and reflect a more sustainable and inclusive future.