In the midst of Toronto’s construction-heavy Entertainment District, the entertainment factor responsible for the neighbourhood’s name has been slowly whittled away to a quiet vestige of its former glory… or former shame, depending on your views on rowdy nightlife. And with the profound effect that development has had on an area once nicknamed ‘Clubland’, it could be called anything, from ironic to fitting, that RAW Design and Architecture picked the roof of an Adelaide Street parking garage as the locale for their impressive RAW ENERGY event, which rocked downtown last night.

RAW ENERGY Party 2013RAW ENERGY Party atop the parking garage at 211 Adelaide West, image by Jack Landau

Though we could easily sum last night up as the party of the summer, if not the year, summarizing this event in any way would be a journalistic sacrilege – an insult to those who literally powered the event in what started as sweltering 33 degree heat. That is to say that this event, in its entirety, was human powered; a theme embodied by features such as the rickshaws which shuttled guests to the roof of the garage from the ground, or the bicycle-powered strings of LED lights.

RAW ENERGY Party 2013RAW ENERGY Party atop the parking garage at 211 Adelaide West, image by Jack Landau

The setting and theme of the event worked together in representing the latest in human powered technology to celebrate the notion that human ideas and power are behind the transformation of cities. “While cranes and machinery seemingly build our urban landscapes, we wanted to remind guests the role people have in creating the ideas that shape our future environments,” said Roland Rom Colthoff, Director of RAW. Just like RAW’s projects, the party and its installations evolved from an analysis of the venue’s site and context. “Toronto is currently the number one skyscraper city in North America. With a scarce amount of open space left downtown, we wanted to emphasize Toronto’s changing experiences that are fuelling its rapid transformation,” said Colthoff.

RAW ENERGY Party 2013Triathletes generating power as the sun begins to set, image by Jack Landau

Following the theme of harnessing human power, a custom built life-sized hamster wheel was propelled by trained elite athletes, powering the equipment of Alex Merrell, the official DJ for Taio Cruz and an international favourite of many high-profile brands, including Dior and W Hotels.

RAW ENERGY Party 2013DJ Alex Merrell at the RAW ENERGY party, image by Jack Landau

RAW ENERGY Party 2013Human-sized hamster wheel, powering DJ Alex Merrell's station, image by Jack Landau

Bicycle generators, provided by ASE Power and U of T’s Human Power Vehicle Design Team and powered by teams of triathletes, lit up Eurolite’s unique LED ‘RAW’ sign as well as MonkeyLectric’s LED lighting of the bicycles’ spokes.  All excess power generated by this display was discharged back into the power grid.

RAW ENERGY Party 2013Human-generated electricity lighting up the rooftop, image by Jack Landau

RAW ENERGY Party 2013Human-generated electricity lighting up the rooftop, image by Jack Landau

Food and drinks served at the event were also entirely through the use of human power during preparation. Sublime Catering treated guests to treats like dry-ice seared salmon, Caesar gazpacho popsicles with shrimp and sous vide beef, marinated in smoked paprika. Niagara winery Malivoire was on scene to provide pairings for the food, with their sustainable Ontario wines. 

RAW ENERGY Party 2013Dry ice-seared seafood by Sublime Catering, image by Jack Landau

Wine isn’t everyone’s cup of… wine, so a wide range of beverages were offered, ranging from Mill Street and Beau’s Beer to iced espresso laced with Sambuca from Café Domestique. For the chocoholics in the crowd, the highlight was certainly the offerings from artisan cocoa grinder Chocosol, who served the crowd with energizing iced chocolate drinks, derived from cocoa beans, pedal-ground before their very eyes. To finish off, Ninutik [Maple Sugar] crafted swoonable maple taffy covered cheese treats, and The Pop Stand offered delish gourmet popsicles in a rainbow of flavours. Yowza!

RAW ENERGY Party 2013Chocosol's display of cocoa beans and natural chocolate, image by Jack Landau

Needless to say, we had a whole lot of fun at the RAW ENERGY party. Kudos to kg&a who did a killer job putting it all together. What are we doing next week?!