Urban Seams: Spoon to the City

The idea that tectonic and material logic is not merely the expression of an architecture, but rather a generator of that architecture is central to the work of GPA. With a portfolio that ranges in scale from the design of light fixtures to the design of large mixed-use projects, and in typology from public installations to campus plans and everything in-between, expertise rises not from specialization but from design as a process of (mass) customization.

This research is interested in the examination and definition of a model of practice that may have the capacity to significantly impact the city physically, culturally, and experientially with even the smallest of interventions. It assumes the materials of architecture reside largely in the culturally specific building materials of local industry. It is the innovative re-presentation of these familiar materials where new meaning emerges.

To some extent, this ‘bespoke’ idea was expressed by Ernesto Rogers’ declaration “Dal cucchiaio alla città” (From the spoon to the city) coined in 1952 at the Charter of Athens to explain what the typical approach of an architect should be: designing a spoon, a chair, and a lamp and in the same day working on a skyscraper. For certain, this concept reflects the currency of Giannone Petricone, and inspires a retrospective that tries to articulate this approach as a model for practice and ultimately for shaping the city.

“From the Spoon to the City” was the title of a lecture Ralph Giannone and Pina Petricone gave at the TODO (Toronto Design Offsite) Festival in January 2018. It is an abbreviated version of URBAN SEAMS (working title) a manual of practice currently in the works. It represents a selection of projects at every scale and typology unified not by size or chronology, rather according to similar design strategies likened to a series of recurring sartorial operations – specifically: weave, stitch, line, embroider, and crease. The relatable terms are only five of ten somewhat universally understood among a public audience which allowed Petricone and Giannone to unpack a design model that re-presented a mostly built body of work.

1. ‘crease’
a line or ridge produced on paper or cloth by folding, pressing, or crushing

Other project examples:

Flaire Condominiums | Fabbrica | Daniels Waterfront City of the Arts | Regent Park Block 22 | Chester Le Childcare & Community Centre | Escarpment House

2. ‘weave’
any of the patterns or methods for interlacing the threads of a textile

Other project example:

SUD Forno | Under the Gardiner | Bar Italia | KEG | Imperial Oil | West Village | Terroni

3. ‘line’
a layer of different material lining the inside surface of something

Other project examples:

Fresh | Herman Miller HQ | Don Mills Revitilization | Agincourt Mall Redevelopment | Oxford Projects | Cumbrae’s | SUD Forno Queen

4. ‘embroider’
sewing patterns on cloth with thread

Other project examples:

Cyclorama Installation | IQ3 | North Towers City of the Arts | Mongrel House

5. ‘stitch’
a loop of thread or yarn resulting from a single pass or movement of the needle to make, mend or join

Other project examples:

Ravine House | 771 Yonge | Golden Mile | The Royal Hotel | Centre for Ethics