Closer to Home exhibition at Harbourfront Centre

This exhibition by Atelier 3AM in the Architecture Gallery at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre runs from June 22-September 8, 2013. A narrative told in three parts, Closer to Home explores domestic responses to increasingly treacherous environmental conditions, from the natural to the engineered. Across urban and peripheral territories that typify the Canadian metropolis, a means of survival is based on mining the resources of one’s home for the provision of food and warmth when these are no longer centrally distributed. A lightweight and versatile folded surface becomes an implement of survival, adapting to conditions as varied as Toronto’s 2003 summer blackout and the Quebec ice storm of 1998.

While it makes these provisions, the architectural system also exposes the vulnerability of the human body as dictated by nutrition, temperature, and toxicity. From subdivision to highrise, homes are characterized by their dependency on networked infrastructure (water, heat and energy) as well as an arterial and externally sourced food network that further erodes a landscape of local agriculture and water management.

The installation explores a final gradient: from collective well-being to atomic survival. As environmental conditions become increasingly perilous, the natural retreat is further into the home, culminating in the subterranean shelter. This descent into the underground reflects the end of social cohesion in apocalyptic terms, is legitimized by past horrors and propelled by fabricated fear.

Atelier3AM is a Toronto-based architecture, interiors, and urban design studio established by Chris Wong and Taymoore Balbaa. The partnership is defined by its cultural diversity and varied points of expertise, yet unified in its joint faith in the transformative power of architecture and the built environment. Through sensitive and site-specific methodologies to each and every design challenge, the work addresses and confronts the subtleties of context – geographic, social and cultural. The studio builds on knowledge and experience through a collaborative practice, working with experts across multiple fields to strengthen their responses to each unique design challenge. Within each project, they thrive within a climate of debate and discussion. Resisting predetermined visions that are to be conformed to, they work with and within the unique circumstances that define each project, towards anticipated and unforeseen results.

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