partisans transforms toronto's hearn generating station into a monumental cultural venue
partisans transforms toronto's hearn generating station into a monumental cultural venue partisans transforms toronto's hearn generating station into a monumental cultural venue
jun 15, 2016

partisans transforms toronto's hearn generating station into a monumental cultural venue

partisans transforms toronto’s hearn generating station into a monumental cultural venue 




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.’


welcome to the hearn – a drone’s-eye view
video courtesy of CBC News




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.

the hearn generating station hosts a temporary community and cultural center




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.

partisans has transformed the decommissioned power plant into a performing arts venue




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.

the raw quality of the hearn and its industrial heritage is reactivated through the use of shipping containers




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.

the shipping containers carve out distinct spaces of intimacy within the theater




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.

theater lighting has been added to the soaring 400,000 square-foot space

an oversized disco ball casts mirrored reflections on the surrounding architecture

‘trove: a view of toronto in 50 of its treasures’ brings together objects and artworks from across the city

partisans has developed an augmented reality app that guests can use to visualize the ‘trove’

partisans interprets toronto’s past as a projection of its future

potential schemes see the existing industrial architecture become a space for community engagement


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