Adaptable architecture is the future of our cities, says RAW Design princpal

by Kim Megson | 04 Jul 2016

Design studios should embrace temporary architecture projects as a means of experimenting with how buildings can shape our environments.

That is the view of Roland Rom Colthoff, principal of Canadian firm RAW Design. The practice have organised several temporary events celebrating adaptive reuse of structures, including Winter Stations – an exhibition of art installations built around lifeguard points on Toronto’s wintry beaches – and a series of one-night “architectural stunts” called RAW.

“Our lens cannot only focus on the current function of a building, but must also anticipate the potential for it to shift its purpose over time,” he told CLAD. “As architects, we must allow for opportunities in the future while addressing the needs of the present.

“Ultimately, making an installation temporary gives designers more flexibility to explore this. For instance, you don’t have to build the installation to last year after year, which brings down costs significantly. This way means you get to experiment with changing a place.”

Last week, the studio held its 2016 one-off event, called RAW Shift. A gutted Toronto storefront was filled with modular cardboard installations, illuminated panel sliders and a forest of movable 12ft tubes. Throughout the night each installation was morphed and manipulated into something new, reflecting the shifting nature of Toronto architecture, while the lighting, music and food on offer also altered throughout the event.

“We see our events as part of the cultural ‘mash up’ that is what makes living in a city engaging,” said Colthoff. “There is an appetite for these kinds of installations.

“We really want to explore how spaces evolve and change, both in function and form to adapt to, or restrict, social activities. A building of any kind is almost infinitely mutable and its function is liable to change at any moment.

“Anytime you can breathe new life into a building that already has history and meaning, you tend to elevate the end result. It’s another layer of design and another chapter in the story of the building.”

Temporary architecture  RAW Design  RAW Shift  placemaking  Winter Stations  design  Toronto 
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Design studios should embrace temporary architecture projects as a means of experimenting with how buildings can shape our environments. That is the view of Roland Rom Colthoff, principal of Canadian firm RAW Design. The practice have organised several temporary events celebrating adaptive reuse of structures, including Winter Stations – an exhibition of art installations built around lifeguard points on Toronto’s wintry beaches – and a series of one-night “architectural stunts”
CLD,AAC,ARC,DES,DEV,PHR
Throughout the RAW Shift event, installations constantly morphed into something new / RAW Design
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