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“Muse Flats” Residential Complex

Pivoting Apartment Blocks

Michael Maltzan Architecture

“Muse Flats” Residential Complex
By Michael Webb -

Housing and art museums are special interests of Michael Maltzan Architecture and they have completed one of each on neighboring sites and within a few months of each other, reinforcing a nascent arts district at the edge of the University of Winnipeg’s urban campus. The Muse Flats is a clustered block of apartments commissioned by UWCRC 2.0 (University of Winnipeg Community Renewal Corporation), and it is located across the street from Qaumajuq, a subtly curved showcase for the Inuit art collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery. That conjunction has attracted private art galleries to the street and there are plans to build a performing arts center close by. Like the US city of Minneapolis, Winnipeg fosters a lively arts scene to compensate for its remoteness and frigid winters.

These two developments are a big deal for the sprawling capital of Manitoba - a province that is twice the size of Italy but has only 1,350,000 inhabitants. There are various architectures of note in the city, such as the neo-classical Legislative Building and relics of the 19th-century settlement around the train station. Maltzan’s buildings are flanked by generic slabs, one-story retail and a heavily trafficked boulevard. Challenged to create an urban gateway that would enliven the street and the skyline, the architects designed a cluster of forms that step back and seem to pivot counterclockwise, drawing the eye down to Colony Street, which may soon become a pedestrian promenade. The five towers radiate from a central service core and rise to a height of 15 stories. The 119 units range from studios to two-and three-bedroom apartments, 46 of which are classified as affordable. They are served by community spaces on the tenth floor, which open onto a rooftop terrace - a precious amenity during the summer months. A single-story retail podium - also accommodating a small terrace - extends out like the brim of a hat, and the towers appear to float atop this...

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