stories of cities

Jason, I know when you talk about the story of Toronto you don't mean it literally, but I am immediately reminded about actual stories of cities and ways in which they were told. Around Little Tokyo in Los Angeles sidewalks have engraved panels with facts about history of Japanese in LA - very sraightforward. About ten years ago in Berlin a couple of artists put up signposts with distances to sites of concentration camps (I don't remember which platz this was at and don't know if the signs are still there). I think they were quite subtle and blended in wit other signage, so you'd be looking around for directions and see "Treblinka X Km" and think, Why is this sign here? ... Oh! A more interesting project in Warsaw (I am writing you from here now!): In a space between two buildings a super narrow house dedicated to an Israeli writer of super short stories whose family was decimated in the Warsaw ghetto. Not sure if this was the architect's goal but the house reminds me of how during WWII Jews hid in the tiniest nooks, and now here is a tiny nook turned into an architectural marvel that serves as home away from home for a Jewish writer. All of these projects came out of collective guilt, and I guess Toronto doesn't have any (or does it?) but maybe guilt, or even actual history, is not necessary. My favorite Toronto story is In the Skin of a Lion. After I read it I got interested in the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant and I am so glad I got to see it inside when it was still available to the public before the terrorist paranoia - it is one of the most eerily beautiful spaces I've ever seen (and I've been to the underground water cistern in Istanbul ). But I don't think it is available to the public now, and if it were would people even be aware of it? To the point: I wish for Toronto an art director who is aware of the city's history and literature, someone able to manouver city administration to get permits for new projects and to give the public access to existing spaces. I wish for many cool mini surprises around the city rather than another grand big name architect project. And I know you're just the right person for it!

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  • published this page in Your ideas 2014-06-17 11:17:13 -0400