The annual CANstruction design and build competition returned to Toronto last month, bringing together a group of architecture, engineering, and construction firms to raise awareness about the crisis of food insecurity. Using tens of thousands of cans of donated non-perishable food, 19 different teams crafted their own unique sculptures in an effort to win the top prize, before the food was ultimately passed along to Toronto’s Daily Bread Food Bank. 

BDP Quadrangle's 'Healthy Meal' sculpture, image courtesy of CANstruction Toronto

The competition brought teams to the lobby of the Toronto Dominion Centre in the Financial District, where the event has been held every year since it was first hosted in Toronto in 1999. After a three year hiatus due to the pandemic, CANstruction was finally able to return for its 21st anniversary, and with an impressive class of sculptures from this year’s contestants, it was certainly one to remember. 

The winning sculptures were announced at the evening reception which took place on May 16th, with prizes in the categories of best original design, best structural ingenuity, best use of labels, and best meal. Snagging both the best original design and structural ingenuity awards was a clever sculpture from Architecture49 Inc, titled ‘Get Crackin’. Pictured below, the egg-shaped sculpture was a commentary on the inflated price of eggs, a key example of how the current economic climate is contributing to food insecurity for more families than ever. 

Architecture49 Inc's 'Get Crackin' Sculpture, image courtesy of CANstruction Toronto

Taking home the best use of labels prize was the submission from KPMB Architects, who delivered “a visual representation of nature reclaiming its dominance over human interference,” titled ‘Nature vs. Nurture’. 

KPMB's 'Nature Vs. Nurture' sculpture, image courtesy of CANstruction Toronto

And in the best meal category, which evaluates the meal that would be created by the sculpture’s food components, Diamond and Schmitt Architects took home the prize with their racoon portrait titled ‘Be Kind and Feed your Neighbours’. 

Diamond and Schmitt's 'Be Kind and Feed your Neighbours' sculpture, image courtesy of CANstruction Toronto

Speaking about the importance of the event, Daily Bread Food Bank CEO Neil Hetherington commented that “Creativity, innovation and corporate social responsibility come together at CANstruction. Through this incredible initiative, teams involved are not only helping to provide much needed food donations for families facing hunger, but also raising awareness about food insecurity, and having a direct impact in our community.”

Arcadis' (IBI Gorup) 'Our Bunny Cares About Hunger' sculpture, image courtesy of CANstruction Toronto

For Toronto, the event comes at a time when food banks are dealing with an unprecedented surge in demand. According to stats from Daily Bread, food banks saw about 65,000 visitors before the pandemic; as of March 2023, that number has quadrupled to 270,000 monthly visitors, with 42% of that growth occurring in the last year.  

With CANstruction’s 2023 competition bringing in a total of 57,527 pounds of donated food, the proceeds from the event provide some relief to the record breaking demand our City’s food banks are experiencing. While solving the food insecurity crisis will require much more than simply gathering donations, CANstruction was once again able to unite leading members of the design industry to raise awareness about this growing issue. 

* * *

UrbanToronto has a research service, UrbanToronto Pro, that provides comprehensive data on construction projects in the Greater Toronto Area—from proposal through to completion. We also offer Instant Reports, downloadable snapshots based on location, and a daily subscription newsletter, New Development Insider, that tracks projects from initial application.