Review: Architecture as Evidence/La preuve par l’Architecture

Installation view of Architecture as Evidence, Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal, 2016. © CCA, Montréal

A letter to a contractor stresses the urgency of a previously placed order for a hatch to be added to a roof. On an architectural plan, the hinges of a door have been reversed. Photographs show crowds of people, or an aerial view of a building. These fragments add up to an archive that attempts to answer a question: without the witness, how do we determine truth?

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Night Light Path

Photo: Michelle Hunniford

Kitchener (then called Berlin) was first illuminated by gas-powered artificial light in the 1880s, and now hosts a multiplicity of street light designs, from the purely functional to the characteristic standards and sphere luminaires found in heritage neighbourhoods.

Night Light Path, created for Night\Shift 2016, presents a playful approach to the typically solid and uniform appearance of urban street lights. Rather than rigid standards lifting solid glass fixtures, a pathway of colourful lights inside balloons are anchored by inverted “standards” made of string.

This sequence of lights creates an alternative walking route through Civic Centre Park, blazing an ephemeral path between Kitchener Public Library and the K-W Art Gallery. Swaying in the breeze and reacting to visitors’ touch, Night Light Path turns the solidity of street furniture into an irreverent display of movement and colour.

Thank you to Richard McLean, Michelle Hunniford, CertaPro Painters and the Victoria Party Store for assistance in realizing this installation.

Use It or Lose It? On preserving empty heritage buildings

The former Legion building at 48 Ontario Street North, Kitchener
Photo: Magdalena Miłosz

Fifteen years ago, the spaces behind the red-brick façade at 48 Ontario Street North were emptied out, and so they remain today. But a group called Friends of 48 Ontario is pushing to reanimate the 106-year-old structure, which was home to the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 50 for half a century and is now owned by the City of Kitchener. To start, they’re opening it to the public during this year’s Doors Open event on Saturday September 17.

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Architectures of (De)Colonization

A desk and a chair in the boys’ playroom at the former Mohawk Institute.
Photo: Magdalena Miłosz & Courtesy Woodland Cultural Centre

Follow the Grand River towards Lake Erie and you will find a bend in its waters encircling a significant place. From a nearby street, you can glimpse the building down a long driveway flanked by trees. The approach is leafy, and only upon emerging at its entrance is its grandiosity fully revealed: symmetry, neoclassical features, a cupola rising above the three-storey red brick façade. It’s one of fewer than a dozen former residential schools for indigenous children left standing in Canada, and it’s an hour’s drive from Kitchener-Waterloo in southeast Brantford.

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Poetry: Untitled

Illustration: C. Vandermey (












under a fruitless tree, you

…..the crackle

lines strung
with intermittent
…..messages –

short thoughts
with the dying
whine of cicadas

the grass quivers,
stomach all tied up
… knots

a naturally-occurring
magnetic field

palms firmly
…..against the earth

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On Making Art that Makes Itself

Installation view of Our Mutual Friend, Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery.
Photo: Robert McNair

The ambiguity of nets, curtains, veils, drapes—means of concealing that can also reveal—permeates the large-scale works by Barbara Hobot currently on exhibit at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery (KWAG). On the wall hangs a piece of faux leather vinyl cut and flared like a skirt; on the adjacent floor lies its aesthetic relative, partly draped over a wooden dowel.

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Care Package

Photo: Magdalena Miłosz

This installation for Steel Rails 16 invites participants to build a styrofoam room inside a shipping container at a former industrial site in Kitchener, Ontario. Taking from a huge pile of styrofoam collected mainly from Kitchener curbs over a number of weeks, contributors install their pieces (as-is, carved, or otherwise altered) on an illuminated armature on the walls and ceiling. Musician Ben Grossman turns styrofoam and other objects found on the site into speakers and musical instruments, creating an industrial soundscape within the container. After the event, 45 kg of styrofoam was taken to be recycled at the Erb Street landfill in Waterloo.

Thank you to all the trusty volunteers on this installation!

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From Instrument to Evidence: Selections from an archive of assimilation

An elevation of a generic “Indian Boarding School” from 1919, designed by Indian Affairs architects R.M. Ogilvie and R.G. Orr. The design was later earmarked for Chapleau, Ontario, according to ephemera in the upper-right corner.
© Government of Canada. Reproduced with the permission of Library and Archives Canada (2015). Source:  Library and Archives Canada/Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development fonds/Item # 302-311

The documentary remnants of these projects, built and unbuilt, locate these building typologies within the colonial agenda: whether carried out on the reserves to displace traditional ways of living on the land, or off the reserves, in the case of residential schools that were intended to indoctrinate children into Euro-Canadian customs.

Continue reading in ARPA Journal →