CMHC National Housing Competition, 1979: “Most jurors found the architectural expression of the submission disturbing.”

Forty-four years ago, in 1979, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) sponsored a national architecture competition seeking innovative designs for medium density housing in regions across the country. The sponsors wished to see Canadian architects respond to new challenges including energy conservation, unit livability, well-planned outdoor living areas, environments for children’s play, and effective site planning. Five separate juries of distinguished architects and housing experts within the various regions were selected to evaluate the results of the competition. A total of 88 projects were submitted and 13 were awarded and recognized.

James Brown and Kim Storey, recent graduates working under James H. Jorden in Chatham, Ontario, submitted ‘Rumba Round my Garden,’ a proposal for a low-rise, high-density neighbourhood. The project attempted “a re-synthesis of suburban and urban forms in an organization of outdoor courts, rooms, a treed central boulevard with flanking urban villas and a marked frontage of buildings facing the main road.”


Today’s housing crisis is a national issue. Architects play an important role in developing solutions to the housing crisis. Will the CMHC sponsor another competition?