Reclaimed steel from demolished bridge cast into limited-edition design object
A storied part of Toronto history is getting new life with the upcoming release of The Garrison, a contemporary piece of functional art with a fascinating story. Cast using steel reclaimed from Toronto’s historic Garrison Road Bridge, this limited-edition, multi-use object can serve as a stool or a table.
The Garrison is the inaugural collaboration between two Toronto-based companies: Stacklab, an award-winning multidisciplinary design and fabrication studio, and Rebart, a company that salvages historic landmarks and repurposes them into works of design and art.
Demolished earlier this year as part of the Fort York revitalization, the Garrison Road Bridge originally stood on Garrison Common, to the west of the Fort. Rebart acquired the rebar and bearings from the bridge during the demolition.
“We challenged ourselves as designers to think beyond simple re-use,” says Jeff Forrest, founder of Stacklab. “Our goal was to re-imagine and transform the material – taking dirty, heavy, infrastructural re-bar and reconstituting it into a refined, sculptural casting that performs its job really well. The Garrison weighs only 35 pounds and can support more than 800 pounds. We’re proud of that. I truly believe that we’ve done justice to the material.”
Leading-edge digital design techniques were used to reinvent the historical material. Stacklab performed rigorous digital prototyping, for example, eliminating the need for iterative physical testing and minimizing waste. The innovative design technology was an important factor in optimizing the weight of the finished piece, ensuring an elegant balance between beauty and functionality. In total, 102 pieces are being produced as part of the limited-edition run.
“The Garrison is a piece of Toronto, repurposed for the people of Toronto,” explained Lisa Grassa, Founder of Rebart. “ What’s so special about this project is that we are bringing together old and new, story and design. There is a wonderful historical component to The Garrison that is rooted in its material – material that’s been a witness to so much of our city’s story.”