Architecture

Ambitious architecture does justice to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Ambitious architecture does ju...
The newly-opened Canadian Museum for Human Rights has a cutting edge design, as well as sustainability and accessibility features
The newly-opened Canadian Museum for Human Rights has a cutting edge design, as well as sustainability and accessibility features
View 30 Images
The newly-opened Canadian Museum for Human Rights has a cutting edge design, as well as sustainability and accessibility features
1/30
The newly-opened Canadian Museum for Human Rights has a cutting edge design, as well as sustainability and accessibility features
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first new national museum built in Canada since 1967
2/30
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first new national museum built in Canada since 1967
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first national museum to be established outside Canada's National Capital Region
3/30
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first national museum to be established outside Canada's National Capital Region
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first major project in Canada to use virtual reality construction design across all contractor groups
4/30
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first major project in Canada to use virtual reality construction design across all contractor groups
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is encased in a huge "glass cloud" that is said to symbolize light and hope
5/30
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is encased in a huge "glass cloud" that is said to symbolize light and hope
The glass cloud of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is made up 1,300 pieces of glass of which no are two exactly the same
6/30
The glass cloud of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is made up 1,300 pieces of glass of which no are two exactly the same
According to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, it takes a raindrop about eight minutes to slide from the top of the glass cloud to its bottom
7/30
According to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, it takes a raindrop about eight minutes to slide from the top of the glass cloud to its bottom
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is crowned by a 23-storey glass spire, or "Tower or Hope," that rises 100 m (328 ft) into the sky
8/30
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is crowned by a 23-storey glass spire, or "Tower or Hope," that rises 100 m (328 ft) into the sky
A view of the glass cloud at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
9/30
A view of the glass cloud at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is made up of unusual exterior angles
10/30
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is made up of unusual exterior angles
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights houses 11 galleries within a "mountain" of 400,000-year-old limestone
11/30
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights houses 11 galleries within a "mountain" of 400,000-year-old limestone
The glass cloud wraps around the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
12/30
The glass cloud wraps around the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights has an observation deck at the top of its spire
13/30
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights has an observation deck at the top of its spire
A view of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights illuminated at night
14/30
A view of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights illuminated at night
A view of the sun reflecting off the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
15/30
A view of the sun reflecting off the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
A view of the atrium at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
16/30
A view of the atrium at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Visitors follow a continuously-rising pathway of Spanish alabaster through different galleries at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
17/30
Visitors follow a continuously-rising pathway of Spanish alabaster through different galleries at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
A view of the pathways at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
18/30
A view of the pathways at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
The pathways at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights are illuminated to represent a path of light through the darkness
19/30
The pathways at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights are illuminated to represent a path of light through the darkness
Visitors to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights travel through galleries along 800 m (2,624 ft) of pathways
20/30
Visitors to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights travel through galleries along 800 m (2,624 ft) of pathways
Workstations at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
21/30
Workstations at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
A stairwell at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
22/30
A stairwell at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Elevator shafts to the tower at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
23/30
Elevator shafts to the tower at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
A view of the garden Canadian Museum for Human Rights
24/30
A view of the garden Canadian Museum for Human Rights
A view of the garden Canadian Museum for Human Rights
25/30
A view of the garden Canadian Museum for Human Rights
A pool in the garden of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
26/30
A pool in the garden of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
A view from garden level in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
27/30
A view from garden level in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
A view of the tower elevators from the garden at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
28/30
A view of the tower elevators from the garden at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
A view of the walkways and glass frontage from inside the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
29/30
A view of the walkways and glass frontage from inside the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
A view of workspaces and the glass frontage at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
30/30
A view of workspaces and the glass frontage at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
View gallery - 30 images

It seems fitting that a museum with subject matter that's as aspirational as human rights, should be similarly aspirational in design. The newly-opened Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) is just that. The building is a mix of cutting edge design, construction, accessibility and sustainability.

Creating a new museum from scratch gives architects the chance to match the building to its planned contents. Romania's Digital Museum, for example, is replete with high-tech features and external LED lighting, whilst the fluidity of the planned Lucas Museum of Narrative Art aligns closely with the act of storytelling. The CMHR design, for its part, seeks to reflect the concepts of freedom, equality and respect.

The CMHR is said to be the first new national museum built in Canada since 1967, the first national museum to be established outside Canada's National Capital Region and the first major project in Canada to use virtual reality construction design across all contractor groups. This sense of ambition is extended to the structure itself.

The glass cloud wraps around the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
The glass cloud wraps around the Canadian Museum for Human Rights

The building comprises a "mountain" of 400,000-year-old limestone encased in a huge "glass cloud" that's said to symbolize light and hope. The impressive façade is made up of 1,300 pieces of glass, of which no are two exactly the same. According to CMHR, it takes a raindrop about eight minutes to slide from the top of the cloud to its bottom.

The museum is crowned by a 23-storey glass spire, or "Tower of Hope," that rises 100 m (328 ft) into the sky. At the top is an observation deck from which visitors can look out to the horizon, and at night the tower is "illuminated as a symbol of enlightenment."

Once inside, visitors are led through different gallery spaces along an 800-m (2,624-ft) continuously-rising spiral path. This constant upwards trajectory is designed to symbolize the upward struggle towards fully realized human rights around the world.

A view of workspaces and the glass frontage at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
A view of workspaces and the glass frontage at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights

While these abstract design representations no doubt have merit, the building also has a number of more tangible features that are indicative of society's progress and aspirations. The CMHR claims that its building is the most inclusive design in Canadian history. Based on advice from the Inclusive Design Advisory Council, the museum is said to set new Canadian and world standards for accessibility.

As you would expect, the museum provides nearby parking for those with disabilities, welcomes service animals such as guide dogs, and provides free entry for support individuals. It is also entirely accessible by ramps and elevators. In addition, though, exhibition content and audio tours can be accessed via tactile access points and keypads that are flagged up by floor strips, whilst all videos are interpreted into both American Sign Language and Quebec Sign Language. Braille is used throughout the building, print size and contrast meets required standards, and descriptive audio tours are also available.

The building has also been built with environmental sustainability in mind and is designed to achieve an LEED rating Silver (pending certification). Green features include insulated glazing, rainwater collection use in the building’s cooling and toilet-flushing systems, low-flow fixtures and waterless urinals. Showers are provided for cyclists, and bus passes are subsidized for staff to encourage green commuting.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights opened in September.

The video below provides an introduction to the museum.

Source: Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Be Inspired Join the Conversation

View gallery - 30 images
6 comments
Threesixty
Enshrining human rights in a museum means those rights are lost property...a precious thing worthy of remembrance. Enshrining may be a disguise for a terrible loss.
History abounds with examples of blatant abuse of human rights. You are history and your actions will be recorded.
owlbeyou
Besides rocks, framework, pathways and glass, just what is it that is "Human Rights" and being displayed at this museum?
The architecture firm, promoters and the government body responsible for this poor design should be credited for the Crappiest National Museum in Canada. What a waste of money and resources. Rain water low-flow toilets with shower facilities for cyclists? You gotta be kidding, right?
I'm not usually this harsh about design, but this takes the cake. I had heard about the new museum with its cost overruns, but to finally see images of it leaves me totally unimpressed...and as a Canadian, quite embarrassed.
lwesson
328 glorious feet into the sky of a Doctor Who movie background set for the Cyber Men outpost? My feeling of humanity was being pulled out of me as I gazed upon this eye sore. True, beauty it has been said, is in the eye of the beholder, and Robotic Beings love this!
What is wrong with the so called modern architects? It is as if they went to some art academy hosted by bug like aliens or Grade D movie set designers. I bet they think that, Plan 9 from Outer Space, is a great movie, the architects that is. Oh, maybe the bug like aliens like it too.
And by the way, our future Robotic Overlords will have to take constant maintenance care of such a structure, or maybe they will just let it crumple in a heap and be done with it.
Rehab
Would make a great place for the homeless, which Winnipeg has many!
Calamari
who was the architect?
Lewis M. Dickens III
Well If I had designed it I wouldn't want my name mentioned either!
Sustainable, Iconable, maintainable?. memorable? accessible?
What on earth would Frank Say?
bill