Installation view of Regenerate. Harbourfront Centre. Photography: Tom Bilenkey.


Kongats Architects

April 5 – April 5, 2020FREE

The renovation of an existing building always presents us with a dilemma – What is the natural boundary between a renovation and a restoration of a particular space? Where does each project sit in the relationship of its own history to that of our current culture? While a complete restoration may be a scholarly act of recreation in order to present a specific history for our contemplation, it is more the renovation which seeks to integrate the newer practices with the present as a process of a living history that has been a theme in our work.

Each project contains its own layers of history. Sometimes these layers are readily accessible in the techtonics, finishes and furnishings of the building, but more often than not, invisible in the building ordinances, past uses and inhabitant’s personal stories. Ideally the renovation, for us, seeks to create small insertions into the building’s layers which serve to selectively illuminate the existing while creating something new. Projects such as David Chipperfield’s Neues Museum in Berlin, Gordon Matta-Clark’s works, Rachel Whiteread’s casts and Alvin Lucier’s I am Sitting in a Room are examples of dialectical processes which unveil pieces of the past through the introduction of new elements, spaces and materials.

The installation is a new space inserted into the gallery. Visitors occupy the interior of this new space and leave their traces. These traces are a response to the interior space, its single illumination and the objects of inhabitation contained within the installation. Each week, the installation space will be rotated 90 degrees to expose a different face of the interior for the visitor to record his or her experience. The orientation of the space and the presence of visitors’ markings will define the specific time of the installation.

During the last week of the exhibition, the installation space will be unfolded, and its interior surfaces will be displayed two-dimensionally on the gallery wall.


Kongats Architects is located in Toronto and has been in practice for 20 years.  It is comprised of principals Alar Kongats and Philip Toms, and senior associates Danielle Lam-Kulczak and Adam Trotter.

Our team’s approach to design is phenomenological. Our projects come from observing context, tone, scale and existing patterns of activity. This approach has led the firm towards gaining a national reputation for the innovation we bring to a wide range of cultural and public institutions. The built work is realized using budget conscious techniques, reflecting our ability to achieve the most value for our client’s investment while producing innovative design. For us, design is rational and strictly edited to ensure the projects’ fundamental ambitions are never compromised while architecturally creating exceptional experiences for daily life.

The firm’s work has been honoured with several recent awards including in 2012, the Governor General’s Medal for Architecture, the OAA Architectural Excellence Award “Best of Show” and the OAA Architectural Excellence Award for the University of Toronto Mississauga’s Terrence Donnelly Health Sciences Complex.

Project Team: Alar Kongats, Danielle Lam-Kulczak, Antoine Morris, Adam Trotter