Canadian Architect


Hands-On Urbanism: How to Make a Difference

January 21, 2014
by Canadian Architect

This exhibition at the Urbanspace Gallery in Toronto focuses on alignments between architecture, landscape, planning, art, activism, and civic engagement, and is devoted to a history of ideas of appropriating land in urban space and reveals potential for initiatives by citizens willing to take action in crisis situations. The presentation is based upon a critical history of ideas about the politics of space. Urban development from below leads to an informal and self-organized production of city, which, however never operates outside the system. Self-organization has always been both a reaction to and an incentive for urban planning.

The exhibition runs from January 9, 2104 to March 7, 2014 at the Urbanspace Gallery, located on the ground floor of 401 Richmond Street West in Toronto.

On the occasion of the exhibition, the symposium “Hands-On Urbanism. How to Make a Difference” at the Urbanspace Gallery on Friday, February 28, 2014 brings together activists, architects, artists and landscape planners. In times of crises, austerity measures, and increasing spatial and social injustice, new alignments have to be forged. This different history of urban transformation and the city raises pressing questions about the responsibility of architects and planners and about how we use resources. This symposium is conceived of as both an exchange of ideas and case studies and a collaborative working towards the production knowledge. A keynote lecture by Elke Krasny at 6:00pm will give a historiographic overview on hands-on urbanism since the mid-19th century. Practitioners, architects, curators and community organizers will share their work from a practical standpoint and talk about challenges they are currently facing which require them to think outside the box and to enter into new, and at times unexpected, alignments and collaborations.

Day 2 of the symposium will take place from 10:00am to 4:00pm on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto, featuring participants Adrian Blackwell (Waterloo), Anan Lololi (Afri-can FoodBasket, Toronto), Lucia Babina (Milan & Ibiza) and the community of Brant, Brigitte Shim (Toronto), Arturo Ortiz Struck (Mexico City), Elke Krasny (Vienna), Mark Poddubiuk (Montreal), and Aziza Chaouni (Toronto). The first discussion will be dedicated to the issues of “The Right to Green” and the second discussion will focus on “Hands-On Strategies.” 

For more information, please visit

hands-on urbanism; ma po po farm, ma shi po village, hong kong. photograph by shu-mei huang.
hands-on urbanism; ma po po farm, ma shi po village, hong kong. photograph by shu-mei huang.

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada's only monthly design publication, Canadian Architect has been in continuous publication since 1955.
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