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A circular spaceship in Winnipeg

Winnipeg has a building along its waterfront that, I am told, is affectionately referred to as the “spaceship.” Designed by the award-winning architecture practice, 5468796, the spaceship is a 41-unit circular condominium building that is raised up on 35 foot stilts in order to fabricate views outward from the site. Sans stilts, the site wouldn’t have really had any.

The raised up portion is made up of two circular floors, each with 20 identical units (so 40 in total). The 610 square foot units are all pie-shaped studios that splay outward to a 22 foot wide living room/bedroom. Supposedly, a circle creates 30% more perimeter glass than if the building were orthogonal. So good for views. I should know this.

The building is organized around a central core and circulation system. The building’s common area corridors are also open and exposed to the elements. A fascinating design decision given the climate in Winnipeg, and most of Canada. But this would be good for build costs, good for the building’s overall efficiency/loss factor, and probably pretty good if you’re worried about things like airborne viruses.

Completed in 2017, the hard cost budget for the project was supposedly $4.75 million. The developer in me is wondering how the hell they built 28,000 square feet for $170 per square foot. And the Torontonian in me is aghast at studios as large as 610 square feet. These would be generally sized 3 bedroom suites here in Toronto (I kid).

On top of the building’s two floors is also a pretty unique penthouse suite that can be rented on Airbnb for what looks to be a reasonable price. The main living space is essentially a glass box with 360 degree views of the city. I am ashamed to say that I have never been to Winnipeg. But as soon travel resumes and these provincial boundary checkpoints dissolve, I think it might be time for a trip to the spaceship.

All photography by James Brittain Photography

3 Comments

  1. Great to be on stilts in a flood zone!
    I like the open-air caged-in hallways. Does the cage keep snow from accumulating in the halls in the winter?Indeed open-air hallways are good for reducing the concentration of viral load when coming across other residents. Good provided Winnipeg doesn’t get outdoor air quality issues.
    Hope they super-insulated all four sides (including the underbelly)!

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  2. tbone

    apparently these don’t rent/sell very well since its tough to get furniture that fits, also expensive for Winnipeg market.

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  3. Great blog.
    Quick note regarding 30% more glass; it’s actually less glass. A circular floor plate will always be the most efficient floor plate when it comes to building envelope. It will have the lowest exterior wall to floor area ratio – and thus the most cost-effective building envelope aside from any geometric challenges. It will be > 11% more efficient (in term of exterior wall area) than any square plate. An elongated rectangular plate becomes even less efficient. IMO the architects were very strategic in creating unobstructed views while maintaining construction costs using a truly unconventional and intriguing typology.

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