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5468796 ARCHITECTURE INC. cAnAdA OMS stage 5468796 Architecture Inc. 5468796 Architecture Inc., based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, engages in all aspects of design, from furnishings to urban fabric. Established in 2007, the studio pursues innovative solutions to achieve high architectural value within modest budgetary constraints. In only four years, the office has gained national and international recognition through numerous awards and competitions, both in Canada and abroad. www.5468796.ca 5468796 team photograph taken by Ian McCausland, all other photographs and images by 5468796 Architecture Inc. “The Cube” is an open-air performance venue set against a backdrop of historic warehouses in Winnipeg’s Exchange District. The design, commissioned following an invited competition, recognizes that the stage only functions as such for a very limited time, and questions what opportunities the venue can provide during the rest of the year. In its final rendition, the stage is articulated as a multi-functional environment that shifts from a vibrant performance space to an ephemeral, interactive pavilion and focal point. The outer shell of the 28’ x 28’ cube is a dynamic membrane composed of diamond extrusions strung together to form a flexible curtain that draws back to reveal stage and structure within. The retracted skin becomes a draped and undulating ceiling landscape, providing a unique setting for performances and allowing for adjustments to the stage’s acoustics. When closed, 18 000 angled metal pieces capture and refract light or images to their outer surface, creating a unique pixel matrix. Programmable lighting shines onto the pixelated skin, offering a canvas for interactive displays that are seasonally programmed and available for active engagement by local artists. The stage in its closed position also accommodates small gatherings and exhibitions inside, both on the main floor and on an upper level performance space complete with bleacher- style seating. An important objective for the project was to provide a secure screen which could be opened and shut for various programming. The challenge was to create a unique meshwork that would be soft enough to drape open and rigid enough to provide a solid barrier. Early studies used chain-mail as a precedent for a flexible, protective membrane that could form the venue’s envelope. A second key goal was to explore the capacity for the membrane to capture images projected upon its surface. Through prototypes we examined the size and number of elements necessary to effectively capture the projected images, as well as the appropriate depth of cells and their ability to maintain image integrity. By questioning the year-round relevance of the stage program, the team was motivated to develop a constituent part of the program (security, screen and canopy) into a new project feature. The skin thereby transcends its function as shell and takes on the new role of emblem.