Through collaborative and independent projects, Local Technique explores themes of erasure, accumulation, movement and transformation. Created and presented in a range of settings, these projects explore the multiple, entangled values of sites, structures and materials.
Organized by DesignTO in partnership with the Toronto Society of Architects, with media partner AZURE Magazine. DesignTO brings people toget...
In collaboration with Giaimo - a Toronto-based architecture firm integrating design and heritage conservation - Local Technique has recently focused on demonstrating the feasibility of building deconstruction and material reuse as an alternative to demolition and disposal in Toronto and Ontario. Expanding on the exploratory work investigating possible futures of the Wallace Emerson Community Centre (see below), this collaboration aimed at motivating tangible results.
Manifesting as a proposal submitted to developers of the site, the overall objective of this project is to successfully motivate the deconstruction and reuse - rather than the demolition and disposal - of the Wallace Emerson Community Centre. Whether or not this is achieved, we also understand that the results of this case study offers important insights into the opportunities and barriers to deconstruction and reuse in the GTHA.
While there are multiple examples across North America and worldwide, the GTHA currently lacks comprehensive precedents of, and policy for building deconstruction and material reuse. Recycling existing (LEED 4.0) and ineffective (ONT-102. ONT-103) policies, one critique of the Toronto Green Standard is its focus on new construction – overlooking the implications and impact of the existing building stock. While the intention to promote circular construction is evident in the City of Toronto’s most recent Official Plan Amendment, baselining studies for the Circular Economy and Long-Term Waste Strategy, limited precedents for these practices indicate gaps in both policy and industry.
Conceptual sketches by Giaimo, exploring the deconstruction of Wallace Emerson Community Centre.
Inspired by emerging research and design in architectural deconstruction and reuse, this summer studio conceptualized dismantling and reusing the Wallace Emerson Community Centre - a beloved site now slated for demolition - as a mode of cultural and conservation.
Download a copy of the final report below
How to Wait is a response to a prompt (5. Grazing Poet) within Directions to Nowhere, a project born from the Digital and/as Public Space Initiative, a collaboration between The Bentway and From Later with design by Nomadic Labs. The project explores how people and places relate through software. Directions to Nowhere proposes ways of playing that might test and transform our conceptions of a public — directing our (mis)use of everyday digital tools to produce new socio-poetic moments.
Over the course of three sessions, this series of three discussions explores the role Demolition, Deconstruction and Displacement play in shaping our urban environment. In collaboration with emerging and established practitioners across multiple fields, this series will expand on conventional heritage discourses - which focus on what and how to save - and consider instead how the ongoing legacy of these processes have and continues to shape our physical and cultural environments.
Session one: On Demolition
[Thursday May 13, 2021: 8-9:30 pm]
In conversation with historians and demolition practitioners, this panel explores the historical and evolving role of demolition as a process which simultaneously destroyed and enabled urban development. Entangled with notions of progress and loss are stories of physical erasure and destruction, but also the emergence of new livelihoods.
Session two: On Deconstruction
[Thursday May 20, 2021: 8-9:30 pm]
Considered an alternative to demolition, deconstruction is a process which seeks to conserve the value of architectural components through a more careful disassembly. This talk will present various perspectives on the ways these processes take place and intersect heritage and sustainability as well as stories of reclamation, salvation and displacement.
Session three: On Displacement
[Thursday May 27, 2021: 8-9:30 pm]
Inherent in both topics of demolition and deconstruction, displacement occurs in both physical and cultural ways. This panel will explore the patterns, legacies and consequences of this activity. While the heritage discourse often focuses on what is lost, this discussion critically examines these processes and products - and the places they create.
Interested in the transformation and flow of materials, this project looks at the containers which transport construction and demolition waste. Where You Bin is a record of the liminal moments between architecture's recent past and the unseen future landscapes it generates. While the process of demolition physically alters materials, collection in disposal bins conceptually reconfigures their values by characterizing them as waste. Where You Bin takes another look and reveals the diversity of disposal services, containers and the broad array of materials which fill them.
Learning to Listen is a series of imaginative exercises which challenge participants to access the knowledge of sites, structures and materials. In doing so, it aims to cultivate relationships of care, justice and reciprocity for broader landscapes. Understanding that cultural, environmental and architectural stewardship are cultivated through empathetic encounters with both the living and non-living world, this project invites participants to connect with the agency and vulnerability of their surroundings. Integrated into course work at Waterloo school of Architecture and Willowbank School or Restoration Arts in 2020, and at Embodied Heritage Symposium in Ottawa in 2018, Learning to Listen has also been used as an investigative tool for local case studies.
Remainders is book of collages created from remnants following a design charrette in which architects proposed deconstruction as means of renovating an existing building. Reassembled, the resulting collection is a meditation on what is generated through processes of alteration, erasure and renewal.