WhatMakesaSpaceaPlace

University of Waterloo Team- Co-Designer, Graphic and Media Team, Construction
Location: Gardiner Museum, Toronto, Canada
Team Members: Negar Behzad, Suhaib Bhatti, Golnaz Jamshidi, Alexandra Hucik, Carly Kandrack, Ali Mohebali, Cam Parkin, Fotini Pitoglou, Danielle Rosen, Pavel Tsolov, and Anqi Zhang

Originating as a graduate elective course taught by Jonathan Friedman of PARTISANS Architects in the winter of 2017, our team of the graduate students was tasked with activating Gardiner’s outdoor plaza with a site-specific built installation. The course focused on three key areas of architectural investigation: materiality (linking traditional methods with new technologies); the site (an opportunity to engage with the building, the forecourt and the public realm in a meaningful and thoughtful way; and the poetics of space (the opportunity to create a poetic and provocative piece of art and design). In the process, we have had the opportunity to examine the importance of civic space and to engage directly in the act of city building.
Our intention was to create a physical and digital forum about place-making, art, and city-building. We created a site-specific built armature to the front outdoor plaza and the upper-level balcony of the Gardiner Museum of Ceramics.
Coinciding with Waterloo Architecture’s 50th anniversary, visitors were invited to embellish colorful benches with mosaic tile as part of a month-long communal art-making activation exploring the scarcity of meaningful public space in Toronto. A series of discussions and activations engaged the public in this ongoing dialogue throughout the month of July.
The afterlife of the project was important as well, we did not want it to put into waste, therefore we found some different new places for each part of the project in other smaller parks in downtown Toronto, and the project is giving the message as a symbol of the public involving in making their cities.

Our main goal was to activate and bring the public to interact in the outdoor plaza of the Gardiner Museum and for people to reach out to the upper public level of the museum. The idea was to create a place for the public to engage in the making of it and be a part of the project itself. This project was pre maid by us but the main part of it was the place made by the public and which made the project finished. Without public engagement, the project would have seen as unfinished. Also because of this was a Ceramic museum this idea of engagement was tied with the public tiling part of the project.

The first idea of how to engage people in making part of the project came from the tiling processes in Tehran which were managed to build by the graphic students of the city under the supervision of the municipality. Also the process of how to easily involve people in making art in The Obliteration Room by Yayoi Kusama. That lead us to our specific process of engaging people in the project.