On June 27, Toronto-based architecture firm RAW Design celebrated its 10th anniversary with RAW X, its annual summertime installation. Created and curated by RAW Design’s founder, Roland Rom Colthoff, RAW X engaged developers, engineers, planners, city officials, designers, urbanists and artists through an immersive installation designed to provoke new ideas about city nightlife. This year’s installation aimed to provoke thought into how light infrastructure will improve our housing, mobility and culture, among other questions.
“As Toronto moves toward becoming a 24-hour city, we need to manage our relationship to light after hours,” said Colthoff, in a press release. “By and large, our public spaces are conceived for daytime. There is a tremendous opportunity to shape urban life after dark by focusing on engagement.”
Although Colthoff says that the number of activities that take place in Toronto after dark are growing, such as evening markets and outdoor movies to light fests and DJ nights, designers are positioned to impose a more permanent impact on the city’s nightlife.
“The canvas of the city after dark is ripe with possibilities. By exploring ways to manipulate light and dark in urban centres, we can influence how and where engagement occurs,” added Colthoff. “Light is a symbol of spectacle and freedom. People are drawn to it, and we should be exploring its potential. Even though Toronto has great nightlife, it’s still a relatively dark city.”
This year’s installation was located in Riverside, at the base of a new tower developed by Streetcar Developments. The active construction site was transformed into a testing ground for activating the night. Guests were treated to a series of interactive installations created to transform the anonymous concrete backdrop of the construction site into an evening playground. A laneway of lightboxes guided guests into the site, which featured colourfully lit foods, glowing orbs and illuminated furniture made out of bubble wrap, among other ideas.
“Riverside is a microcosm for the entire city,” said Colthoff. “You used to have a clear distinction between established single-family residences on side streets, and more active uses along Queen. With new developments coming into the area, those distinctions blur. Streetcar has contributed to the reinvigoration of the area at night, with the introduction of The Broadview Hotel, and they have also been leading the charge in terms of developing the east end.”
RAW, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary as an architecture practice, has chosen venues for its annual parties that are central to the story as their installations. Venues, which have ranged from boxing rings to bakeries, storage lockers to parkade rooftops, are transformed in an effort to tell a visual story about altering public space and the built environment.
RAW X was sponsored by Streetcar Developments, Sweetgrass Brewing Co., Interface, Sali Tabacchi, Astley Gilbert, Strewn Winery and The Broadview Hotel, with music curated by Norm Li and DJ Starting from Scratch.