Commissioned by 7 Continents to create an exhibition for Land|Slide at Markham Museum, DoUC worked in partnership with Sara French to explore the current state of local and global housing options. With relatively limited choice in how we acquire a place to live and what type of housing we have available to us, DoUC wanted to know, how do we create more choice and how can those choices manifest in Markham, Ontario?
Before considering the specific housing options currently available to residents of Markham, and more broadly Canada, DoUC began by examining the concept of choice in broad terms. What does it mean to have a choice and how do people determine the best choice in a given situation? What choices made in the past have influenced and resulted in the way we currently live?
Commonality of basic needs is what unites us as humans. However, how we meet those needs—as well as our wants—is what often separates us. In researching current housing options locally, there was a peripheral goal of examining who the market is truly accessible to and if the available choices are created for the people in need of shelter or merely to maximize the financial gain of developers. Of specific interest was looking at housing choice through the lens of immigration, trying to understand why housing typologies from around the globe have not also made their way to Canada following the patterns of immigration across the country.
This is what led to the idea of designing the exhibit to be an immersive experience for visitors, proposing new choices in housing based on global profiles and housing typologies. The experience was facilitated by a Community Outreach Officer from 7 Continents, Reena Smith. Reena acted as a guide for Markham’s ‘potential buyers’, leading people through the experience to learn about the options available and helping them to choose and close on the most appealing and appropriate option that met their needs and fulfill their wants.
Following the Markham exhibition, a synopsis of Buying & Selling was presented at the Hong Kong Shenzhen Biennale, including a video message from Reena Smith discussing growth in Markham and the potential for global typologies to play an influential role in the future of housing. A slightly different take on the examination of how people make choices to fulfil the requirement of shelter was considered for an installation created for The Works Art and Design Festival in Edmonton that further explored what sacrifices one makes to attain Security, Safety, Control and Identity through shelter.
DoUC is interested in pursuing further research and projects that build on the ideas from Buying & Selling.