ERA Architects

The Brickworks and Toronto photo-bloggers

The Brick Works, located on the west side of the Don Valley just north of Bloor viaduct, is not only an ERA client but also one of Toronto’s most significant heritage sites. Besides being the source of bricks used to build many of Toronto landmarks and homes from the 1880s and well into the 20th century, the location has taken on many different narratives during its existence: a place to sleep for out-of-work people during the Depression, a dumping ground for the earth excavated during the construction of the Scotiabank tower, a secluded haven for graffiti artists, and now an exemplary model of soil remediation, mixed-use planning, and environmental regeneration.

above photos by Sam Javanrouh

But over the last decade, the Brick Works have become a de facto studio for Toronto’s ever-expanding photoblog community. While the site has long been explored by curious urbanites and industrial fetishists, it’s the photography from the Brick Works that has captured a wide audience. On Flickr alone, over 2,700 photos exist of the Brick Works. Everything from the chimney to the rusting machinery has been documented in fantastic detail.

photo by Metrix X

While ERA can’t condone this type of infiltration, we are grateful that Toronto’s photo-bloggers have taken the time to chronicle the Brick Works site. Essentially, they are the silent voice of heritage preservation in this city. Without their contribution and prolific documentation of sites like the Brick Works, many derelict buildings and spaces would have been long forgotten by the general public. By taking it upon themselves to explore damp, dark, and elusive sites, photo-bloggers have embedded the imagery of these places into the public’s consciousness.

Personally, I don’t have the inclination nor the intestinal fortitude to visit places like the Hearn Generating Station (in the Port Lands), the Whitby Psychiatric Hospital, or the Canada Malting Plant (at the foot of Bathurst), but I am indebted to the brave and curious photographers who have helped give these spaces a renewed narrative.

R. L. Hearn Generating Station by dmealiffe

Canada Malting Plant by h-e-d

Whitby Psychiatric Hospital photo by sigma