Described as Canada’s largest development industry networking and educational event of 2017, the 32nd annual IIDEXCanada exposition returned to Toronto last week as part of The Buildings Show. The conference was held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on November 29th and 30th, also hosting Construct Canada, HomeBuilder & Renovator Expo, PM Expo, and the World of Concrete Pavilion under one roof. The conference brought together over 30,000 attendees, offering an opportunity to explore new technologies and innovations in the world of architecture, construction, real estate and design. With over 1,600 exhibits to browse through and 350+ seminars, keynotes, summits and roundtables to attend, IIDEXCanada 2017 offered opportunities for all people to learn and meet new people.

The Buildings Show, IIDEXCanada at Metro Toronto Convention Centre, TorontoAerial view of IIDEXCanada exhibition booths, photo by Nathan Petryshyn

The Buildings Show, IIDEXCanada at Metro Toronto Convention Centre, TorontoIIDEXCanada exhibition booth, photo by Nathan Petryshyn

Improved building supplies, flooring, landscaping, green-roof advancements and new technologies for rental management were only a few of the Construct Canada and Homebuilder and Renovator’s extensive exhibits. A wing dedicated to the World of Concrete displayed improvements in concrete casting, repairs, waterproofing and recycling. IIDEXCanada’s exhibits ranged through modern furniture, magnetic porcelain, contemporary lighting and sleek interior design solutions. Included here was Astley Gilbert presenting heightened design capabilities with the ability to print any design on fabrics, vinyl or wallpapers. Beside them, Stylegarage x Gus* "work together" on integration of USB capabilities and power sources with their latest furniture designs—encouraging attendees to rethink our approach to interior spaces and our interaction with furniture.

Stylegarage x Gus with IIDEXCanada at Metro Toronto Convention Centre, TorontoDetail of Stylegarage x Gus* USB technology, photo by Nathan Petryshyn

Hewlett-Packard with IIDEXCanada at Metro Toronto Convention Centre, TorontoAstley Gilbert design exhibit, photo by Nathan Petryshyn

Recurring questions surrounding integration of design and technology, how existing buildings adapt to new advancements and planning for future developments surfaced during many of the panels and keynotes. In a discussion titled “Using Modern Technology to Integrate and Leverage Existing Building Systems”, panelists explained how their aging properties have embraced and benefited from new technologies. Lachlan MacQaurrie, Vice President of Operations for Oxford Properties discussed the importance of early adoption and data analytics to remain innovative. Citing Yorkdale Mall as his example property, MacQuarrie explained how data analytics have helped improved public engagement with the space, and that Oxford has “optimized the user experience” using data. “Data and technology will change the way you experience our spaces”, MacQuarrie states, explaining how advertising, store placement and customer comfort all stem from technological integration.

Shane Saunderson, roboticist and former Vice President at IC/things, held a discussion titled “Robot-Centred Design: The Future of Architecture”. Saunderson explained in detail how minor changes to our buildings and interiors can greatly improve future integration of robots. These minor adjustments would go mostly unnoticed by the user, but could vastly accommodate robot navigation and functionality. Using the Roomba as a current example, the robotic vacuum cleaner can understand a wide range of surfaces and textures, however cannot navigate depths or grade changes. By designing to accommodate robotic technology, such as “flush surface” transitions, performance of a Roomba and other robots would improve greatly, in turn improving our quality of life. Saunderson emphasized that as robotic technology advances, our approach to building design should also evolve to consider this technological integration.

The Buildings Show, IIDEXCanada at Metro Toronto Convention Centre, TorontoAerial view of IIDEXCanada exhibition booths, photo by Nathan Petryshyn

The opposite end of the conference spectrum showcased innovations using an age-old material; wood. The IIDEX Woodshop held its 5th annual competition in partnership with Ontario Wood and the City of Toronto calling innovations and designs using the city’s reclaimed wood. The competition responds to the Greater Toronto Area's loss of over 100,000 trees each year due to old age, natural disasters or pests such as the Emerald Ash Borer. Among the competition winners are designers Edward WooHyun Chung and Hamza Adenali from Laurentian University’s McEwan School of Architecture in Sudbury with the “Mokomoko Vase”. Using Ontario sourced ash wood, the design sets to aesthetically enhance the common household object while regarding a historically organic shape. Kurt Scanlan of Troop Studio, another IIDEX Woodshop winner attended with his Loedus Light, an LED light source in a single solid length of ash wood. The dark wood finish contrasting an orange interior accent draws inspiration from outdoor campfire gatherings, and is now flipped onto the ceiling for a contemporary interior use.

IIDEXCanada Woodshop Competition at Metro Toronto Convention Centre, TorontoMokomoko Vase and Loedus Light IIDEX Woodshop competition winners, photo by Nathan Petryshyn

Discussion on the repurposing of wood continued in the “Designing with Reclaimed Wood: Toronto Success Stories” panel. Furniture designer Lars Dressler of Brothers Dressler recounted his experiences sourcing materials and designing using reclaimed materials. Through furniture design, Lars and his brother Jason Dressler find new purpose for urban Toronto wood that, at great expense to a homeowner, normally ends up in a landfill. Panelist Justin Nadeau, Green Projects Team Leader with the Toronto District School Board also understands the importance of repurposing diseased or fallen trees from school properties. Nadeau works to integrate the reuse of wood into the school curriculum, with elementary school children using the wood as benches and seating circles, to high school students repurposing the materials in a shop class. Taking what would normally be of great cost to the school district, Nadeau has leveraged the wood as an asset to a greater learning experience and engagement of students.

Brothers Dressler with IIDEXCanada at Metro Toronto Convention Centre, TorontoLive-edge table design using reclaimed ash, image via Brothers Dressler

The 2017 Building Show offered a vast number of innovations and new technologies to be considered when designing and constructing in the future—both inside and out. From robots to magnetic tile, sleek lighting and reclaimed wood, the open discussion and networking at IIDEXCanada showcased which innovative technologies and products we can expect in the near future. 

Further information about this year's IIDEXCanada is available via the official website. Want to get involved in the conversation? Leave a comment in the space provided below.