Since 2016, a group of educators and practitioners have been developing a process to advance a national architecture policy for Canada. They are now on-track to begin coast-to-coast consultations on the initiative—a key next step towards creating an official federal policy. Canadian Architect editor Elsa Lam interviewed Lisa Landrum, one of the working group members, to find out more about the initiative.

What is a national architecture policy?

A national architecture policy is an aspirational document that shows how well-designed environments enhance social, cultural and economic well-being, and provides guidance to politicians, professionals and the public on how to achieve more sustainable, equitable and engaging communities. A national architecture policy empowers people to pursue positive change and sustainable growth. It informs public debate, influences legislation and inspires citizens to create meaningful and resilient development amid climate change, rapid urbanization, threatened heritage, and other 21st-century challenges.


How is a national architecture policy different from the building codes and regulations that are already in place? 

Whereas a building code stipulates minimum enforceable technical standards, an architecture policy sets forth ambitious goals and calls to action with compelling arguments, images and case studies. An architecture policy considers social and cultural benefits that extend well beyond the footprint of individual buildings. It aims to establish a shared, yet open, vision for what constitutes “quality” in the built environment. This is no easy task. To begin, we have prepared a framework for understanding quality architecture in relation to place, people, prosperity and potential. These four themes are intended to orient conversations about architecture’s manifold significance and impact on things like regional identity and cultural vitality; individual and collective well-being; sustainable urbanism and environmental stewardship; as well as the role of creative research, innovation, education and global partnerships in bolstering architecture’s potential.


What other countries have architecture policies, and what effects have they had? 

About 30 countries have already adopted or are developing a national architecture policy.