An exhibition focused on the changing landscape of Toronto and the effects of construction in the city.
To explore material development and use local construction waste to offset new material use.
Using collected construction debris from various construction sites around Toronto to create molds and casts of imagined architectural sculptures.
16 sculptures were created for this exhibition. The sculptures will exist as art pieces indoors. If not cared for, they will degrade like the buildings the materials originated from. If the sculptures are no longer needed, they can be broken down and mixed with a binding agent like a gypsum powder to create new sculptures or material for construction.
Commuting across the city of Toronto, one can notice its changing landscape – construction is a constant and cranes dress the horizon. As of 2022, Toronto was home to 252 active cranes (dwarfing the 203 active cranes across the United States), and the majority of these were used for new builds rather than retrofitting older structures. According to heritage architect Catherine Nasmith, “it takes about 50 years of energy savings to pay down the debt to the environment created by the creation and transportation of construction materials”. On top of that, only 12% of waste from construction sites is diverted from landfill. The remaining 88% overwhelms landfills and accounts for 20–30% of the total municipal landfill in Ontario. A frightening prospect is that Ontario is expected to exceed its landfill capacity by 2032.
This building, 7 Labatt Ave, has lived a life longer than most of Toronto’s inhabitants. Over 110 years it has morphed with its tenants and now, it's slated for demolition. This exhibition is an ode to the building and others like it, an exploration of the impact of construction in this city and the value we place on overlooked and discarded things. What would Toronto look like if we opted to retrofit buildings before demolishing them? How could our value system shift to appreciate the unique heritage of the city?
The artifacts in this exhibition are cast with a mixture of 50–75% collected debris from construction sites around Toronto, including famous landmarks, ignored structures and Victorian houses. The binding component of the mixture is gypsum based, which is a material commonly used in the construction of drywall, plaster and sometimes cement. The molds used to cast the structures were created from offcut insulation boards salvaged from construction sites and their shapes often dictate the final form of the sculpture. Architectural and abstract in their form, they could live in centuries past or future, in an imagined city built on the foundation of its past and quietly carrying its hidden histories within its walls.