Here at ERA, we seek to operate at the fine and blurred line between the realms of theory and practice. Two ERAers are currently teaching design studios at the Daniels School of Architecture at the University of Toronto, and a number of employees in the office have been able to continue working on large-scale projects that they originally investigated at school. For example, Kirsty‘s masters design thesis Postproduction: the adaptive renewal of industrial-purpose built architecture looked at the rediscovery of Toronto’s Don Valley Brick Works. Her theoretical proposal encompassed sustainable re-use strategies that were developed through an extensive study into the history and current state of the site.
Factory production of the early twenty-first century was generally linear and parochial. The architecture of these factories was designed to be functional, flexible, and subservient to the processes housed within. Industrial production tended to follow a sequence of gathering resources, mixing the parts, producing the product, and distributing the product. Process buildings at resource extraction sites were constantly in flux, and for the most part this led to dereliction once the resource was exhausted. Owing to the initiative of Evergreen, the re-imagined complex has now become a vehicle for the propagation of sustainable ideas. Clay is no longer the resource. The Brick Works site itself has become the resource; an amazing landscape and raw space full of opportunity.
ERA has been working on the Evergreen Brick Works project for over a decade now. Since joining the firm, Kirsty has been able to continue working on the adaptive re-use of these structures, and their transfer from industrial production to cultural opportunity. The rehabilitation of the Brick Works buildings and artifacts is an on-going process of renewal. Significant rehabilitation work remains, but this past fall Evergreen were able to move into their new home, and have opened their doors seven days a week to the community.