Architect Paul Koopman brings a sense of play to Saskatoon.

“Trying to introduce delight into architecture has been a preoccupation of mine,” says Paul Koopman of Koopman Architecture. It’s not surprising that the Saskatoon architect is focused on bringing a little whimsy into his work: when he’s not designing modern structures, he’s painting, drawing (“Drawing is a way of thinking,” he says) or playing the ukulele—art for art’s sake, he says.

Koopman’s modern architecture takes inspiration from the city’s expansive prairie landscape and natural light—the Edge, a residential development for the inner city, is spacious and fitted with large cascading windows, a reflection of the openness of the plains. Prairie Wind, a landmark that celebrates Saskatoon’s 100th anniversary, is inspired by tall grass moving in the wind.

Koopman’s work is reshaping the city he loves. “There isn’t an established culture for architecture in Saskatoon, but because the city is still young, there’s so much opportunity,” he says. “There’s a real practical-ness to people here. As long as you can tap into that mentality, there’s opportunity to do good work.”

There are always questions like: ‘Is it buildable? Is it affordable?’ But if I can go one step further and make it enjoyable, too, I feel I’ve done my job,” says Koopman.

Paul Koopman