Tunnels for Toronto

Tunnels for Toronto

These tunnels connect the five major hospitals in Toronto. They are used by caretakers to transport their patients on gurneys if a specialized procedure not offered in the patient’s hospital is needed.
They had fallen into neglect and disrepair and formed a dreary maze difficult to navigate. We were commissioned by the Weston Family Foundation of Toronto to improve and beautify half a mile of this system.

Working very closely with designer Linus Lohoff, we created a color palette directly inspired by Canada’s flora featuring lots of muted blues, earthy ochres, and piny greens. We tried to create designs hovering between pure abstraction and representation of nature. We purposefully included cliches like flowers, birds, and butterflies. We wanted the imagery to be open enough to let your mind wander and concrete enough to give direction to that wandering.
Besides transporting patients from one facility to another, the hospitals utilized these tunnels as storage space for surplus hospital beds and medical waste dumpsters. Many walls and some ceilings were cluttered with pipes of every size, emergency boxes, and electrical cabinets.

To successfully negotiate the elimination of all these elements - considering the involvement of five different hospital bureaucracies - seemed impossible. So we decided to embrace these conditions and use them as the starting point for our designs: Birds wound up chirping from electrical boxes and spiders descended on strings from steam pipes.

Disciplines: Environmental

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art direction: Stefan Sagmeister
design: Linus Lohoff
production: Nigel Scott, Devil’s Thumb
music: Victoria Hong
client: The Weston Family Foundation, Toronto, Canada
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