from now until june 26th, toronto’s iconic hearn generating station hosts the world’s largest enclosed temporary community and cultural center for the 10th annual luminato festival. for ‘#turnonthehearn’, partisans was responsible for transforming the decommissioned power plant into a monumental performing arts venue, repurposing the landmark coal plant as a place to celebrate the energy of art. a series of galleries, theaters, cafes and creative interventions both respond to, and accentuate the existing architectural conditions.
‘#turnonthehearn is one of the boldest and most ambitious visions for toronto yet,’ says alex josephson, cofounder of partisans. ‘it might also be one of the largest architectural installations in the world. the hearn itself will be an event.’
in collaboration with the luminato festival‘s production team and theater and acoustics consultants charcoalblue, partisans interprets toronto’s past as a projection of its future — a generator of art and culture. in addition to its work for ‘#turnonthehearn’, partisans has conceived a series of spatial interventions and a program of events that investigate the evolution of the city, with a special focus on the hearn and its surrounding port lands.
appearing as a macro-scale game of architectural jenga,
partisans has enhanced the raw quality of the hearn and reactivates its
industrial heritage through the use of shipping containers. these
volumes, used for moving equipment in and out of the space, have been
interpreted as building blocks, which carve out distinct spaces of
intimacy and functionality in the soaring 400,000 square-foot space. in
the theater, rectangular apertures cut-out from these containers have
been repurposed as box seating, lined with chairs and dimly illuminated
by purple lighting.
throughout the duration of the luminato festival, partisans brings its studio to the hearn in an effort to make architectural thinking and technologies more accessible to locals. members of the firm are stationed at the plant as they work on current projects and produce 3D models of the building and its surrounding areas. with the help of ryerson university design students, partisans engages in both a theoretical and practical reimagination of the generating plant and its landscape.
partisans also presents a conversation series that investigates the future of toronto.
a two-part studio session sees planners, developers, architects, and
thinkers come together to discuss the city’s rapid densification and
potential ways of tackling design and development processes to ensure
better architectural outcomes.
finally, a visual arts exhibition brings together objects and artworks from both private and public collections across the city. ‘trove: a view of toronto in 50 of its treasures’, curated by luminato festival artistic director jorn weisbrodt, sees images created by artist scott mcfarland hosted in a virtual gallery. the exhibition features 50 photographs of 50 pieces, bringing rarely seen treasures out of their vaults and collections to be shared with the people of toronto.
alongside norm li studios, partisans has developed ‘thehearnar’, an augmented reality app that guests can use to visualize the ‘trove’ inside the hearn. this app gives the public a sample of the future of architecture — a blend of both virtual and physical worlds.