The Place of Work
555 Hamilton St
The group of works assembled here explores issues which the call for submissions first posited as a schematic question, "Has the workplace evolved into an impersonal and alienating environment to which most people have little attachment, and over which they exercise little control?" The building is the archetypal artifact of work. As studies of the formal and ideological languages of work, the exhibition investigates the meaning and potential of our building culture. A culture in which we often find ourselves "athwart the precipice over which abundance cascades into nothingness." Yet it seems to be in the nature of such questions to beget new ones, and to pass over into different but adjacent domains.
The rapid changes occurring in the nature of work are the result of current economic, technological and social factors. As curators we felt that this was an opportunity to reach beyond workplace conventions and to examine it in terms of the changing realities of work itself. The exhibition seeks to let work emerge, in the complex and shifting fashion proper to it, as a specific state of existence — a phenomena that modifies the relations between both people and their environments
The workplace is inevitably affected by its rivalry with the home. Configurations of The Place of Work traditionally responded to the demands of material productivity (centred on the forge), whereas the dwelling place was organized around the social relations of the community and family itself (the hearth). While the spatial ordering of today's built environment is succeeded by an increasingly temporal ordering and pattern of use definition, the city, the office, the factory, and the home can no longer be neatly separated one from the other. Productive space becomes diffused throughout the fabric of the community, while a new wave of idealism subjects the household to the ethics of the factory.
Ultimately, the exhibition asks the question; If meaning architecture is associated with place and culture, rather than use, how do we, as architects, embody the values, needs and aspirations of the people who work in the environments which we create?
Guest curated by Brent Ash and Cliff Eyland Produced by The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada on the occasion of its 1989 Annual Conference