Architects team up to support individuals experiencing food insecurity in downtown Toronto 

This piece by Brooklyn-based artist Tiantian Lou is among the architectural drawings that will be up for auction starting Friday as part of Drawing for Food.

Release Date: November 21, 2023


BUFFALO, N.Y. – An international group of architects have teamed up to support an organization that assists individuals experiencing poverty, food insecurity or homelessness in downtown Toronto.

Drawing for Food is a new initiative that puts donated architectural drawings and illustrations up for auction, with all proceeds going to Toronto Food Not Bombs, to support the organization’s food outreach program.

Every Sunday for the past several years, the Toronto chapter has been gathering at Toronto’s Allan Gardens park and serving around 150 to 250 bags of groceries and meals to those affected by poverty, homelessness, or food scarcity.

Drawing for Food uses a model tested by the UK-based organization Architecture for Change, which solicits drawings from designers and architects for auction in support of specific social causes.

The Drawing for Food auction website is now live as a gallery, with bidding opening on Nov. 24 and ending Dec. 1.

Support for the initiative was provided by the School of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo and the Summer Undergraduate Research Program at Toronto Metropolitan University.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, homelessness in Toronto has become more visible, but there is still a lot of invisible homelessness and food insecurity, says Stephanie Davidson of design practice Davidson Rafailidis, which co-organized Drawing for Food with Georg Rafailidis, practice co-founder and associate professor of architecture at UB, and Adrian Phiffer, assistant professor at the University of Toronto and director of the Office of Adrian Phiffer, along with Eira Roberts, a design student at Toronto Metropolitan University.

Many architecture studio briefs have taken on themes such as affordable housing. “This project, however, aims to leverage our architectural work to support vulnerable community members more directly,” organizers say.

A broader aim of the auction project is to explore ways that architectural drawings can be used for public good. Realizing spatial projects of any scale typically relies on a financial backer: an owner, a client, an entity with a commercial interest.

“The interests of the moneyed participant drive, or at least influence, the interests of the spatial project. But the instrument of drawing, we argue, is entirely ours,” the organizers say. “It belongs to us, and as designers, we can decide what and how we draw, who we draw for, and who benefits from our work.”

The auction includes drawings donated by Davidson Rafailidis; Joyce Hwang, associate professor of architecture at UB, with Alice Hwang, as Double Happiness; Office of Adrian Phiffer; and Eira Roberts.

Drawings were also donated by Peter Maerkli (Switzerland), Nathalie Du Pasquier (Italy), Salazar Sequero Medina (Spain/USA), Ultramoderne (USA), Edgar Rodriquez (Mexico/USA), and Drawing Architecture Studio (China), among many others.

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