Wednesday 21 July 2010

The Distillery District

The recent revival of the distillery district in Toronto is curious. Taking a group
of homogenously designed buildings and converting them to entirely different uses. Environmentally it makes good sense. As a artists studio it looks great. As an architectural experience it seems one dimensional or maybe just too damn cute.

Walking around you admire the old brick buildings and then go inside to get a coffee or look at a painting. The industrial is gone. Replaced by the contrast of a fragile glass sculpture.  The experience starts the minute you walk through the old entrance gates. It feels like an architectural theme park.

It is possible for buildings to adapt to different uses and some very successfully. So, perhaps this just applies to reusing older buildings. If you proposed a new build like this you would find yourself in version of Seaside. But does the experience differ? What if Fort York housed a health club and restaurant? The Limelight in New York converted an old church to a nightclub.(probably fitting)

The jury is out on the Distillery District experience.


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