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Image Credit: ZO-loft Architecture and Design, WheelLY, 2009  

September 15 - December 11, 2021


An exhibition exploring adaptable and sustainable housing in the age of climate change 

Ours is a world in flux. Extreme weather events are propelling governments, cities, developers, designers and others to question our ability to confront and survive the repercussions of climate change, natural disasters and other shocks to our communities. We are just beginning to understand the implications of a climate-changing world. As we face increasingly-unpredictable environmental conditions, many of the world’s poorest residents are at risk to drought, sea level rise, and the loss of habitat that supports fishing, farming, and other livelihoods. 

In order to address these challenges, we will need both emergency shelter and longer-term housing solutions for large populations. We will need to design human habitats, from houses to cities, to be flexible and adaptive, able to survive whatever Mother Nature and life throws our way. 

Art Works for Change invited visionary architects and artists to consider artistically-interpretative solutions and prototypes for survival shelter. In Survival Architecture and the Art of Resilience, science, technology, architecture, and art converge in a quest for resilience: What does it take to survive and thrive amid a changing climate?  How we can address the needs of the world’s most vulnerable citizens? Through a variety of innovative ideas — high-tech and low-tech, extravagant and affordable — the exhibition begins to address the challenges of excess heat, droughts, flooding, food insecurity, homelessness, mass violence, biological disaster, and earthquake. 

Featuring works by: 

Mitchell Joachim and Terreform ONE, Mary Mattingly, Vincent Callebaut, Chris Jordan, Thomas L. Kelly, Liam Kelly, The Empowerment Plan, Phil Ross, Pedro Reyes, ZO-loft Architecture and Design, William McDonough + Partners, Achim Menges, Andrew Maynard Architects, Tina Hovsepian, Alejandro Aravena, Jenny Sabin and Eric Ellingsen Studio Lab: Jingyang Liu Leo, Kevin Jin He and Won Ryu, Peta Feng and Malgorzata Pawlowska, Davison Design: Zhou Ying and Niu Yuntao, Journeyman Pictures, IKEA Foundation and UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency) 

The exhibition publication is available online here.

Survival Architecture and the Art of Resilience

Free Public Events

  • Enduring Resilience and Flow: The Lower Don River 
    Thursday, September 23 at 2:00 p.m. 
    Join artist, writer, and cartographer, Daniel Rotsztain, for a walk exploring the Lower Don River’s shallow, silty flow; its importance to the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee and its history of being both a gateway and a barrier to early industrialization. Outdoor event with limited capacity; pre-registration required.
  • Humanizing Our Communities with Art and Design 
    Wednesday, November 3 at 1:00 p.m. 
    This online panel moderated by Michael Piper of the University of Toronto's John H. Daniels Faculty will present and discuss practices of collaboration, creation, and community research that aim to address systemic issues of oppression, with speakers including artist Cindy Blažević (Toronto, ON); Jessica Kirk, Wildseed Centre for Art & Activism (Toronto, ON); Rowan Lynch, Hearth (Toronto, ON); and Derrick Meeking, Empowerment Plan (Detroit, MI). Presented in partnership with John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto.
  • Free guided exhibition tours
    2 p.m. on Thursday, November 4; Saturday, November 6; Thursday, November 18; and Saturday, November 20 
    Join us for free guided tours of Survival Architecture and the Art of Resilience. Tours are led by Onsite's knowledgable student staff, and include an overview of the exhibition and in-depth information on select works. Pre-registration is required and capacity is limited for distancing purposes.
  • In Conversation with Maya Mahgoub-Desai and Matthew Hickey: The Foundations, Regenerative and Restorative Design in Architecture 
    Thursday, December 2 at 1:00 p.m. 
    This online conversation with OCAD U Chair of Environmental Design, Maya Mahgoub-Desai, and Mohawk architect and OCAD U faculty Matthew Hickey, will focus on regenerative and restorative design — encompassing ecological, cultural, and economic principles based in Universal Inclusivity.

Onsite Gallery General Info: 

Onsite Gallery  is the flagship professional gallery of OCAD U and an experimental curatorial platform for art, design and new media. Visit our website for upcoming public events. The gallery is located at 199 Richmond St. W, Toronto, ON, M5V 0H4. Telephone: 416-977-6000, ext. 265.

Regular opening hours are: Wednesdays to Fridays from noon to 7 p.m.; Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m. Free admission. 

Onsite Gallery acknowledges that gallery construction was funded in part by the Government of Canada's Canada Cultural Spaces Fund at Canadian Heritage, the City of Toronto through a Section 37 agreement and Aspen Ridge Homes. Gallery furniture was donated by Nienkämper. Onsite Gallery logo by Dean Martin Design. 

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