June 10, 2014
by Canadian Architect
Canadian architecture firm 5468796 Architecture and design advocacy group Storefront Manitoba celebrated the culmination of Winnipeg’s Architecture Fringe Festival and the 2014 Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s Festival of Architecture on Saturday, May 31, 2014 by transforming the Étienne Gaboury-designed Esplanade Riel pedestrian bridge (2003) into a giant pop-up dining room and inviting guests to experience and discuss the power of architecture and design. With tickets selling out in just 36 hours, the event was an unmitigated success in this prairie city with remarkable spirit, energy and dynamism.
On this major civic landmark and against the backdrop of Winnipeg’s new Canadian Museum for Human Rights by Antoine Predock, the team joined together 150 tables of eight to create one continuous 1,200-foot-long dining table – making it one of the longest dining tables on record. Volunteer “table captains” decorated their tables to a theme of their choice, competing for prize money for the best table setting. Diners from across Canada – including representatives from prominent institutions, municipal government, arts organizations and the general public – were notified of the event’s secret location only hours prior to the dinner. Taking inspiration from the global al fresco dining phenomenon known as “Diner en Blanc” established over 25 years ago in Paris, guests were advised to dress in white garb for a “Winnipeg White Out,” visually underscoring the city’s emergence from a long winter, the feeling of solidarity at the event, as well as the impact of design. The blindingly bright spectacle of well over a thousand guests in their crisp whites lining the bridge was a sight to behold. Meals were provided by local chefs from RAW:almond (Mandel Hitzer from Deer + Almond and Joe Kalturnyk from RAW Gallery) along with Ben Kramer from Diversity Food Services.
The project is the culmination of 5468796’s Table for 12 – a nine-city series of intimate dining events that put the spotlight on architecture culture. The objective of Table for 12, which received the $50,000 Professional Prix de Rome in Architecture from the Canada Council for the Arts, was to research cities around the world with a thriving design culture and to gain a deeper understanding of the catalysts that have built a strong commitment to architecture. Other cities included Lisbon, Rotterdam, Tokyo and Sydney, New York, Mexico City, Edmonton and Copenhagen. This final dinner in the series brought 5468796’s research back to Winnipeg and opened up the conversation to the broader public.
According to Johanna Hurme, Principal of 5468796, “We began the Table for 1200 initiative by setting the scene, but as with all architectural projects the participants really made it their own. The table captains put a great deal of effort into their table decorations and some were quite elaborate. Many guests took special care with their white outfits. Together with the artistically prepared food, a fun visual spectacle was created for the public to both see and experience. And what was truly amazing was how everyone was smiling.”
Her conclusion is that this could be the beginning of a much larger event: “We hope that Table for 1200 will be the first of what could become a national movement to highlight the importance of building vibrant and active cities.”
For more information on Table for 1200, please visit www.tablefor1200.ca.
view of the esplanade riel pedestrian bridge filled with revellers
just a handful of the hundreds at table for 1200
table for 1200 with the soon-to-be-opened canadian museum for human rights looming in the background