RAW ENERGY event ignites dialogue about the transformation of cities

On June 26, immersed in the core of Toronto’s skyscraper grid, architecture firm RAW pushed boundaries through the roof of a seven-storey downtown parkade at 211 Adelaide Street West to create RAW ENERGY– a people-powered installation and industry event. Each year, RAW attracts hundreds from the often hard-to-“wow” design and architecture community to a provocative event geared to stimulate the senses. This year, RAW ENERGY transformed a parking garage into a playground, bringing together the latest in people-powered technology to celebrate the notion that human ideas and power are behind the transformation of cities.

“While cranes and machinery seemingly build our urban landscapes, we wanted to remind guests the role people have in creating the ideas that shape our future environments,” says Roland Rom Colthoff, Director of RAW. Harnessing human power, a custom-designed life-sized hamster wheel propelled by elite athletes powered up the sounds of celebrity Alex Merrell, the official DJ for Taio Cruz and an international favourite of many high-profile global brands from W Hotels to Dior. Bicycle generators provided by ASE Power from Arizona and the University of Toronto’s Human Power Vehicle Design Team discharged electricity back into the grid. Powered by teams of triathletes, MonkeyLectric animated bike wheels with a graphic light show and a vivid display provided by Eurolite lit up Toronto’s downtown skyline.

RAW ENERGY adds to the continuous stream of playful pop-up design destinations curated for RAW’s annual industry parties. Memorable RAW party experiences include the smell of fresh bread rising in Toronto’s oldest working bread factory, live wrestling matches, and last year’s comic strip playground on Ossington that provided a life-sized graphic commentary on the creative process behind Toronto’s shifting landscape. Like RAW’s projects, each RAW party installation evolves from an analysis of the venue’s site and context.

“Toronto is currently the number one skyscraper city in North America. With a scarce amount of open space left downtown, we wanted to emphasize Toronto’s changing city skyline and illustrate that it’s human ideas and experiences that are fuelling its rapid transformation,” says Colthoff.