Vertical Urban Factory at the Design Exchange

Can factories be reintegrated into urban centres and present sustainable solutions for future self-sufficient cities? A renowned exhibition and research project at the Design Exchange in Toronto presents the history of and provokes the future for urban factories coming to the DX from New York via Detroit. It features a timeline comparing industrial technology, social issues, and factory design over the centuries.

This is an in-depth look at over 30 factories – illustrated with over 200 photographs, diagrams, drawings, models and historic films. Both historic and contemporary examples of urban factories are displayed including – American Apparel in Los Angeles and the VW “Transparent Factory” in Dresden Germany (designed as a marketing tool).

If entrepreneurs and urban planners reconsidered the potential for building factories vertically in cities, this will in turn reinforce and reinvest in a natural feedback loop leading to a new sustainable urban industrial paradigm. Visitors can imagine how the city would be if we brought factories back into urban centres — with additional skilled jobs and vital mixed uses. Local manufacturing is a significant topic in today’s economy – this exhibits shows concepts for the future. Cleaner and greener production could make vertical urban factories the engines of urban revitalization.

The show was curated by architectural historian and critic Nina Rappaport, and runs from September 13 to December 9, 2012. For more information, please visit