Luminato Festival will #TurnOnTheHearn from June 10 to 26, transforming Toronto’s iconic decommissioned power plant, the Hearn Generating Station, into the world’s largest enclosed temporary community and cultural centre with 17 days of free and ticketed artistic programming.
PARTISANS was approached by Luminato’s Artistic Director, Jorn Weisbrodt, to help achieve a singular and largely unparalleled vision: Convert one of the world’s largest decommissioned power stations into a performing arts venue. In collaboration with the Luminato Festival’s production team and theatre design and acoustics consultancy Charcoalblue, PARTISANS has helped bring Weisbrodt’s vision for the Hearn to life. The studio understands this incredible opportunity—repurposing the iconic yet anachronistic coal plant to celebrate the energy of art—as a way of hacking Toronto’s 20th-century past to project its 21st-century future as a global generator of art and culture.
The question of Toronto and its future is one that preoccupies the studio and drives its interests and ambitions. In addition to PARTISANS’ design work for #TurnOnTheHearn, the studio will set up an activation space and host a series of interventions throughout Luminato dedicated to imagining the future of Toronto—its architecture and design, arts institutions, civic infrastructure, and overall cultural and economic prosperity—with a special focus on the future of the Hearn and the surrounding Port Lands.
Comprised of designers, artists, thinkers, and cultural enthusiasts, PARTISANS espouses a broader civic and cultural mandate: to be city builders building better cities. PARTISANS will bring its studio to the Hearn for the duration of the Luminato Festival in an effort to make architectural thinking and technologies accessible to Torontonians and engage citizens directly in the process of imagination that fuels design. With a series of talks and activities open to the public, PARTISANS will demonstrate its commitment to practicing cultural architecture as a means of expanding and reimagining the role of architects and designers in the 21st century.
The following outlines PARTISANS’ design strategies and ambitions for #TurnOnTheHearn as well as additional programming the team will offer throughout Luminato.
1) PARTISANS: Lead Designers for Luminato Festival 2016, #TurnOnTheHearn “#TurnOnTheHearn is one of the boldest and most ambitious visions for Toronto yet,” says Alex Josephson, cofounder of PARTISANS. “It might also be one of the largest architectural installations in the world. The Hearn itself will be an event.” Inspired by a macro-scale game of architectural Jenga, PARTISANS hatched a design concept to enhance the raw beauty of the Hearn while maximizing flexible and inventive design solutions. The dozens of shipping containers needed to get equipment in and out of the space will be used as building blocks to carve out distinct spaces to create intimacy and functionality in the soaring 400,000 square-foot space.
“We believe beauty emerges when design misbehaves,” says Josephson. Ultimately, the Hearn must misbehave: it must become something it is not and perform a story it was never conceived to tell. It must inspire moments of exhilaration and awe, and engender meaningful experiences that will outlive its temporary incarnation to forge a different kind of permanence—the kind that becomes indelibly etched in Toronto’s collective memory. 2) PARTISANS Gallery & Workshop at The Hearn Architecture is normally obsessed with the fantasy of permanence—legacy and performance as functions of brick and mortar. The Hearn generating station is a defining feature of Toronto’s cityscape; yet, its legacy has become unmoored from its original purpose. The Hearn is a striking monument to obsolescence, a bygone era of industry and coal. So how does one reactivate its industrial heritage to inspire a completely new way of seeing the familiar? For PARTISANS, the challenge—and the opportunity—was to create an extraordinary temporary experience that will nevertheless leave a lasting mark on people’s imaginations.
PARTISANS will set up a gallery activation space and temporary studio at the Hearn where members of our team will be working on current projects, interfacing with the public, and, with the help of Ryerson University design students, producing 3D models of the Hearn and surrounding Port Lands. The team is engaged in both a theoretical and practical reimagining of the generating plant and its surrounding community. These models will be used as part of the PARTISANS & Friends: Pop-Up Studio events (see below) to engage other architects as well as the public on ideas and proposals for what can be built in the vicinity over the next several years to generate cultural and economic capacity in downtown Toronto. 3) After School + PARTISANS present a conversation series that investigates the question: “What is the Future of Toronto?” i) PARTISANS & Friends: Pop-Up Studio I & II Pop-Up Studio I: Saturday, June 18, 10am-12pm Pop-Up Studio II: Friday, June 24, 5pm-8pm
Meet the next generation of Canadian architects making waves at home and abroad. Join us for a two-part studio session in which PARTISANS, along with special guests Omar Gandhi, UUfie, Jorn Weisbrodt (Luminato), and Toronto City Councillor Paula Fletcher (Ward 30), and with the help of Ryerson University students, will imagine and design future possibilities for the Hearn and the surrounding Port Lands. By the end of PARTISANS’ residency at the Hearn, the team will have brought the participants’ ideas to life through 3D models and drawings.
Confirmed Participants: PARTISANS (Toronto), Omar Gandhi (Halifax), UUfie (Toronto), Jorn Weisbrodt (Artistic Director, Luminato), and Councillor Paula Fletcher (Ward 30). ii) Rise and Sprawl: The Condominiumization of Toronto Book Launch & Conversation Wednesday, June 22, 5-6:30pm
While rapid densification is contributing to Toronto’s increased liveliness, the unbridled development of monotonous condo towers is resulting in a significant facelift we may later come to regret. We are failing to create a cityscape that serves our citizens, let alone a skyline we can be proud of as a legacy for future generations.
Architecture critic and historian Hans Ibelings and PARTISANS have co-authored a new book called Rise & Sprawl: The Condominiumization of Toronto. It investigates the emergence of this new pressure-cooked architectural vernacular and posits alternative ways of tackling design and development processes to ensure better architectural outcomes.
Join us for the book launch as well as a panel discussion focused on the condominiumization of Toronto with some of the city’s most notable planners, developers, architects, and thinkers.
Confirmed Speakers: Alex Josephson (PARTISANS), Hans Ibelings (University of Toronto), and Eve Lewis (Woodcliffe). 4) Trove Luminato Festival presents Trove: A View of Toronto in 50 of its Treasures, a visual arts exhibition that pulls together the most fascinating, precious, storied objects and artworks from both private and public collections across the city. Curated by Luminato Festival Artistic Director Jorn Weisbrodt, the images are created by renowned Toronto-based artist Scott McFarland in a unique collaboration with Toronto’s architectural team PARTISANS who designed a virtual gallery for these objects. The exhibition features 50 photographs of 50 unique pieces, bringing these rarely seen treasures out of their vaults and collections through photography to be shared publicly with the people of Toronto.
The shipping containers PARTISANS is using for the #TurnOnTheHearn build are the phenotypic antecedents to the pods the team designed to house the world’s largest virtual art gallery: Trove. A repository of special local art pieces, ideas, and objects, Trove is where you travel back to the future. It is comprised of apertures—openings in the time-space continuum that act like a recursive series of lenses to offer simulated glimpses of actual treasures. Trove is like looking in a rear view mirror only the reflection reveals objects rarely before seen and stories yet untold. It is also an architectural metaphor for the city PARTISANS wants to bring into sharper focus.
With the help of Norm Li Studios, PARTISANS has developed an augmented reality app called “TheHearnAR” that Luminato guests can use to visualize the Trove design inside the Hearn (teaser video here). This app will give the public a small taste of the future of architecture—the marriage of virtual and actual worlds to experience an as-of-yet universe. The app is available for free on iTunes.
5) Video Game: #PlayTheHearn With the help of Norm Li Studios, PARTISANS has developed a video game that allows people to #PlayTheHearn, i.e., travel through the space and familiarize themselves with the building and the festival’s programming. By integrating gaming platforms with augmented reality software to portray the built environment, #PlayTheHearn moves us beyond the realm of 2D digital rendering and gestures at the 3D future of architectural technologies.