Banksy, serpents, and slinkies.

Elsewhere in the GTA…i As seen below, the work of anti-capitalist(-as-if-such-a-thing-were-possible-for-an-artist)-cum-capitalist-cash-cow that is the street artist Banksyii has made its way to Toronto for an “unauthorised” exhibition, where, on Sterling Rd, $35 mn worth of his art is being displayed for the first time in North America.iii

The other tenants in the building, the ones that I was actually there to see, were keen to remind visitors of which entrance to use. The irony of “Exiting Through The Gift Shop” and “Entering On South Side” wasn’t lost on yours truly, but unfortunately I didn’t have time to check it out and it closed on September 16th.

So what of serpents and slinkies ?

The Art of Banksy Toronto September 2018 - 1

The Art of Banksy Toronto September 2018 - 2

First, the slinkies. Their form ? The very parametric pieces of architecture by Beijing-based firm MAD Architects called Absolute Towers. They’re exactly what you don’t expect in Mississauga, a 750`000 population bedroom community located 25km southwest of the Big City and whose sole existential purpose is to cheaply house a very large South Asian community that can’t afford (or won’t afford) to live in the unbelievably tight real estate market that is Toronto proper.iv Mississauga has to be the ugliest city imaginable, consisting as it does almost exclusively of ticky tacky condosv and retail shopping malls. And then there are these two slinkies!

The brilliance of MAD’s slinky design is not only that the exterior shape is distinctive, thus creating an “address” in a sea of sameness, but also that the structural and facade engineering are deceptively simply. Stripped away, the tower cores don’t tilt, twist, or really even turn from top-to-bottom – it’s only the floorplates that adjust and vary in dimension along the height of the Much of the exterior variation in volume and proportion is actually a trompe-l’œil of the balcony handrail glass, which is selectively frosted to lend the appearance of greater sinuousness. As to the facade, the continuous balconies around the exterior preclude proper curtain wall that would span from slab edge to slab edge, and in so doing vastly simplifies the window wall system here installed, which only spans between the concrete floorplates, and greatly reduces construction costs, resulting in a much more cost-competitive product.vii You can buy a 1-bedroom for under CDN $350k!

MAD’s genius continues inside the building because the slinky design results in a huge variety of suite sizes and orientations, which makes cross-shopping between units all the more challenging, if not impossible. This cross-shopping nightmare for buyers is a dream for developers, which is why this is very much the trend in competitive real estate markets.

Absolute Towers Mississauga MAD Architects September 2018 - 7

Absolute Towers Mississauga MAD Architects September 2018 - 6

Absolute Towers Mississauga MAD Architects September 2018 - 3

Absolute Towers Mississauga MAD Architects September 2018 - 4

Absolute Towers Mississauga MAD Architects September 2018 - 2

Absolute Towers Mississauga MAD Architects September 2018 - 1

In other trends, in Toronto proper, Westbank was preparing to open its new traveling exhibition, which was designed by Bjarke Ingels as the Serpentine Pavillion in 2016, and is now being used to ingratiate the Vancouver-based developer to the city’s natives as the firm prepares its first project in the GTA – the 480-unit KING TORONTO – also designed by BIG.

Just two days before it was set to open, outside the bar I happened to be patronising at 3:00am, I snapped this pic of the finishing touches being put on the 1802-fibreglass-block public art sculpture.

Bjarke Ingels Serpentine Pavillion Unzipped Toronto Westbank Sept 2018

Unlike the Bansky cash grab, tickets to “Unzipped Toronto,” as the exhibition is entitled, are free, if still required. The exhibition opened September 15th and runs until November 30th, 2018.

I’ll hopefully be back in GTA to check it out.
___ ___ ___

  1. The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is an ever-expanding, ever-sprawling agglomeration of Canadian cities located in and around the northwest corner of Lake Ontario, which is one of the five Great Lakes. While the GTA includes some 25 municipalities with an overall population of 6.4 mn, it increasingly encompasses what is being called the “Golden Horseshoe,” which extends south to Niagara Falls, west to Waterloo, north to Barrie, northeast to Peterborough, and counts its population as 9.2 mn in just 32`000 sq km, making it the densest industralised region of Canada, which as an entire 10`000`000 sq km landmass is only 36 mn citizens. It’s no wonder they have all the fancy stores, they have the population density for it!
  2. Banksy, for the blissfully uninitiated, is a slightly more shrouded and very much more British version of Murakami-san.
  3. From G&M :

    The Art of Banksy, which has grown in scale since first stops in Melbourne, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv and Auckland, is organized by art dealer Steve Lazarides, who was Banksy’s close collaborator and agent from 1997 until 2008, as well as concert promoters Live Nation and Starvox Exhibits. The organizers stress it contains no art ripped from the street; rather, it features about 80 works on loan from collectors who bought them online or at Banksy’s own commercial shows.

  4. A Torontonian friend of mine recently recounted the tale of how he had to pose as a Fedex delivery man to deliver personalised postcards to 1`000 different owners of lofts that weren’t even listed on the market, all so that he could evade the insane bidding wars that listed properties are subject to and so that he and his wife could find a renovation-ready loft somewhat centrally. It’s apparently not uncommon for listed properties to find themselves in bidding wars going for $100k, $200k, even $500k over list!

    And you thought it was just Vancouver that was going nuts. If only! Canada is just that hot an item. I mean, in relative terms, what’s not to like ?

  5. The condo towers seen in-behind the central Celebration Square here are what otherwise dot the really very aesthetically offensive Mississauga skyline.

    Mississauga Celebration Square September 2018

  6. Update 10/24/18 : Just came across these floor plans confirming my observation that it’s only the ovular floorplates that adjust around the circular core! They’re uploaded at full resolution so you can blow them up :

    MAD Architects - Mississauga Canada - Absolute Towers - Floor Plans - 1 MAD Architects - Mississauga Canada - Absolute Towers - Floor Plans - 2

  7. The disadvantage of MAD’s design for Absolute Towers is, of course, thermal performance. Those giant balconies act like the radiator fins on your V-Twin, but it’s really not that cold in Mississauga – it ain’t Yellowknife or Iqaluit – and the temps in January are not far off 0ºC. 

3 thoughts on “Banksy, serpents, and slinkies.

  1. […] a pretty solid summer! Especially given how much traveling I also packed in to the last 3 months. […]

  2. Pete D. says:

    Updated with MAD floorplans.

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