carlo ratti curates exhibition on bringing nature to urban spaces for EDIT festival in toronto

carlo ratti curates exhibition on bringing nature to urban spaces for EDIT festival in toronto

in today’s technology-charged society, innovation is allowing us to bridge the ever-present gap between nature and urban life. in thinking about this interconnectivity, carlo ratti associati has curated and designed an interactive exhibition, which delves into the evolving relationship between cityscapes and the natural world. the show looks at artifacts and initiatives that harmonize these two fundamental aspects of humanity. ‘the green & the gray’ is presented as part of EDIT — a ten-day festival for design, innovation and technology in toronto and produced by design exchange, whose overarching theme for this inaugural edition is ‘prosperity for all’.

rendering of the green & the gray exhibition at EDIT




‘I have always been fascinated by the words of french anarchist geographer elysée reclus‘, says ratti on thinking about the themes behind the exhibition. ‘at the end of the 19th century, reclus wrote: ‘man should have the doubled advantage of access to the pleasures of the city […], the opportunities offered for the study and practice of art, and at the same time should be able to enjoy the freedom that lies in nature, and which is explained in the field of its vast horizon’. the green & the gray, with its stendhalian title, aims to explore how, thanks to new technologies, we can finally contribute to reclus’ vision of marrying city and nature’.

‘supertree grove’ by grant associates are developed as vertical gardens, displaying tropical flowering climbers
(also main image | image © darren chin) see more about the project on designboom here




‘the green & the gray’ — housed within a former factory that hosts EDIT’s diverse program of events — comprises a 2000 square-foot immersive environment where visitors can explore living elements seamlessly integrated with manmade ones. furthermore, a special surface of thin transparent material layered on the floor seeks to give viewers the impression of walking over water.

the ‘lowline lab’ by raad studio is an underground park in new york | image by limor garfinkle, courtesy the lowline
see more about the project on designboom here



as they meander around the exhibition environment, festival-goers can discover work in the fields of urban development, housing and product design, hydroponics, sensors for climate engineering, vertical gardens and sensitive lighting systems. featured projects include grant associates’ ‘supertree grove’ in singapore, an underground park in new york city by raad studio, and the ‘pikaplant’ shelf that automatically waters your plant. overall, the underlying theme connecting all selected works is the vision a thriving future for local communities worldwide.

SPARK combines residential living for seniors with vertical urban farming in a scheme for singapore
see more about the project on designboom here

the ‘pikaplant’ shelf automatically waters your plants
see more about the project on designboom here

susana soares designed alternative medical tools that use bees to accurately diagnose a vast variety of diseases

the ‘cricket shelter/modular insect farm’ by terreform ONE surveys the impending food crisis
image © mitchell joachim

the ‘andrea’ air purifier by mathieu lehanneur uses indoor plants to filter air
see more about the project on designboom here

carlo ratti designed a pavilion where people can engage with digitally-augmented farming for FICO eataly world

‘treepedia’ by MIT senseable city lab explores the green canopy in cities around the world (toronto pictured here)

the ‘arctic food network’ by lateral office explores the role of architecture in shaping northern identity



project info:


CRA team: carlo ratti, giovanni de niederhausern, emma greer, chiara borghi, gary di silvio, gianluca zimbardi, melanie imfeld, daniele belleri


exhibitors: grant associates (supertree grove); lateral office (arctic food network); lowline lab (lowline); mathieu lehanneur (andrea); MIT senseable city lab (underworlds, treepedia); modular farms (modular farms); pikaplant (pikaplant); philippe rahm for artemide (spectral light); rebuild by design (rebuild by design); scape landscape architecture (living breakwaters); SPARK (homefarm); susana soares (bee); terreform ONE (cricket shelter), transsolar (reversio); carlo ratti associati (FICO eataly world)



EDIT is a 150,000-square-foot immersive experience that envisions a world transformed by unparalleled design, innovation and technology solutions. produced by design exchange, in partnership with the united nations development programme (UNDP), the inaugural festival will ignite conversations through an array of curated exhibits, compelling talks, and inspiring installations. inviting some 100,000 visitors to east harbour (formerly unilever soap factory) in toronto’s port lands, EDIT challenges visitors and participants to consider how we can make the world a better place.

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