Recently awarded the prestigious Prairie Design Award of Excellence, La Cuisine is a backstage, seasonal kitchen facility, designed to accommodate the preparation and serving of 10,000 meals a day to volunteers and performers at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.
Designed to be completely open during its brief operation as a kitchen, the building has sliding walls that shut down the sides to create a secure, weather-protected storage facility for the 360 days of the year that are not the Winnipeg Folk Festival.
Working in the spirit of the Winnipeg Folk Festival Environmental Policy, La Cuisine is designed to reuse components from an existing modular steel structure. The project team was able to source an existing modular, steel structure building slated for demolition, and to design a new Festival kitchen facility using most of the original buildings’ component parts. The existing building was carefully dismantled, transported from Winnipeg to the festival site, and rebuilt in a new form. Components were modified and either re-welded or bolted together.
In response to its location back stage, the building is fronted with a festival-sized verandah that serves as a greeting space for arriving visitors and performers, and as a general backstage hangout space. At night, it becomes a lantern that backstage volunteers use to navigate in the dark. In wet years, the space is to be used to dry festival owned tents before packing them away for the balance of the year.
When the festival gates open each each morning, the day begins with a ceremonial romp by festival-goers to claim prime viewing real estate in front of the main stage. Claims are staked with a colorful landscape of ground sheet polytarps and lawn chairs that give settlers rights to the property until the end of the evening main stage concert that day. Tarps are removed each evening, resulting in a newly composed patchwork quilt the following day. The verandah cladding, while providing cover from the elements and permanent colour for La Cuisine building, pays homage to this animated tradition.