The project consists of a 115 square-foot (10.6 square metre) bathroom redevelopment in Chinatown, an inner-city neighbourhood under development pressure in Vancouver. In the past the location has served as a restroom for a parking lot, factory, retail store, residential accommodation and since 2010, as the location of 221A’s 23 artist-studio spaces.
The project’s purpose is to examine the role of renovation as a form of cultural remembrance, healing and transformation. In the context of Vancouver’s rapid redevelopment as a vertical, high-density urban environment where existing older buildings and multi-cultural histories are often eradicated under the banner of urban regeneration, the renovation consciously deliberates taking the position of a pseudo-historical shrine, interpreting existing space and collective memory.
In drawing a parallel between renovation and translation, Walter Benjamin noted: “It is the task of the translator to release in his own language that pure language that is under the spell of another, to liberate the language imprisoned in a work in his re-creation of that work.” – Illuminations: Essays and reflections, 1923
The renovation is led by Tom Sloan, industrial designer and Blood Mountain co-founder and director. It is a continuation of Blood Mountain’s ongoing research and production-based project, Renovating the New World, which launched in Australia with a bathroom renovation in August 2013.