Grounded in the unique soil on which it was established, on multinational expertise, and on the innovative means of its realization, Arvida concretized the possibilities bequeathed by the second industrial revolution to integrated territorial and social development, on the basis of an urban plan designed for this purpose. This union of one industrial project and one social project takes the form of an original synthesis of 19th and 20th centuries urban planning theories, stemming from a culture based, not on collective dynamics, but on individuation and the particularization of identities. This very unique company town is thus the missing link between social utopias that emerged in the 16th century and the advent, in the 20th century, of public housing and urban-planning policies.
Whereas its industrial project would propel this world renowned aluminum city to the forefront of the Second World War, Arvida also reformed the social order of paternalistic model cities, while illustrating the contribution of America in terms of housing, construction, and territorial management. Its plan and its landscape intentionally articulate the reversal of the traditional representation of power in the city, in favour of the advent of a democratic and egalitarian society.
In January 2017, following the nationwide appeal by the Canadian government, Saguenay has submitted the application of Arvida for Canada's Tentative List for World Heritage Sites. The proposed outstanding universal value reads as follows :
- A masterpiece of urban planning showcasing human creative genius, Arvida deliberately combines Western ideals and American legacy in a unique materialization of secular utopias. Remarkable for the holistic nature and symbolic dimensions of its plan, it is exceptional in its intention and scope, egalitarian habitat, vernacular aesthetics, realization, and conservation.
- An urban transposition of the multinational networks of its creators, planetary interface, Arvida illustrates a considerable interchange of values in the planning and building of cities and industrial communities. While hybridizing Nordic and American figures, its houses, inhabited by Arvidians from 36 nations, incorporated local traditions into a new culture.
- Designed to foster ownership and belonging, Arvida’s housing and architecture bear an exceptional testimony to Canadian cultural traditions. In the 20th century civilization, their regionalist intention counterbalances the spread of the international style and its universalist vocation, in favor of the expression and the preservation of genius loci.
- The culmination of a century of research on housing and the city, Arvida, historic capital of aluminum, is an outstanding example of a type of planning, construction, appropriation, and preservation that illustrate the apogee of industrial society, both in human history and in the history of territorial development in America.
- Born from an integrated plant based on unprecedented hydroelectric resources and the promises of the “magical metal,” Arvida is directly associated with the Second World War. The aluminum it produced, and that this industrial planned community tangibly showcases, was pivotal to Canada’s and the Allies’ role in the global conflict.