Making Camp


Eric Arthur Gallery, 230 College Street
Opening reception: Wednesday, January 20 | 6 PM - 8 PM
Gallery hours: 9:30 AM - 5 PM, Monday to Friday

Camping is both locative practice and timeless process.

—Charlie Hailey, Campsite (2008)

A foundational myth of North America is our collective relationship to the expansive, often rugged, and remote national landscapes. From Thoreau’s cabin in the woods, to 19th century cottages offering urbanites respite from the city in the summer, the notion of retreat and the restorative role of immersive landscape experiences has formed part of the North American conscience.

Camping in North America did not develop on a large scale until after World War II, when increased leisure time, car access, and the possibility of camping with motorized vehicles greatly expanded the activity. This growth was served by public and commercial campsites which offered a range of camping experiences.

Modern day camping is the product of multiple, simultaneous evolutions over the past century: legislation that created national parks; the evolution of camping gear which shadowed the advent of new materials and technologies; and transformations in the actual configuration and layout of campsites. Private campgrounds catered to recreational vehicles by offering paved parking areas in picturesque locations. Public camp grounds, often in national or provincial parks offered remote campsites and more accessible car camping. The layout of most campsites embrace a suburban plan, even with cul-de-sacs. A distribution of camping plots are sheltered by trees but within viewing and hearing distance of each other. The car pulling into each lot serves as the first act of setting up camp.

The enduring appeal of camping over the past century is driven by the desire to escape modernity, and a primal interest in the “primitive hut.” The desire for immersive experiences by reducing the envelopes and infrastructures that traditionally separate us from our environment. Yet, we are increasingly far from this experience, embracing a suburban relationship to wilderness. The architect Charlie Hailey identifies camping as a phased process: “We leave home, we arrive at site, we clear an area, we make and then finally break camp before departing.” (Hailey, 2008)

With so much attention placed on gear and material innovation, little attention has been paid to the campsite itself. This project foregrounds the campsite as a design question. Is there a possibility for other forms of collectivity in the remote? The Making Camp series of proposals consider new possibilities of collective camping and the processes they entail. It questions the role of the campsite, the experiences enabled by it, and the environments created by camping infrastructures. The project highlights five possible formats for camping that synchronize environment and spatial order. The designs explore how campers related to each other, how camping rituals are enacted and inform spatial order, and how the campsite interacts with its context.

Making Camp is returning from acclaimed success at the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, which ran from October 3, 2015 until January 3, 2016. The work has been expanded to include new drawings. Free copies of the six custom camping pamphlets will be available on opening night January 20.


Project Team:

Lateral Office: Lola Sheppard, Mason White, and Alex Bodkin with Miriam Alexandroff, Quinn Greer, Sarah Gunawan, Kinan Hewitt, Laurence Holland, Daniela Leon, Karan Manchanda, and Safoura Zahedi.

John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture: Thomas Abromaitis, Johnny Bui, Paul Kozak, Deagan McDonald.

Printing support from Creative Silhouettes, Weller Publishing, and Toronto Image Works.



The project is generously supported by the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design.



"Windy Biennial," Architect's Newspaper, September 21, 2015.

"Toronto’s Lateral Office Makes Camp at the Chicago Architecture Biennial," Azure, Erin Donnelly, October 3, 2015.

"10 Highlights from the Chicago Architecture Biennial," Metropolis, Zach Mortice, October 4, 2015.

"Chicago Architecture Biennial plays host to a sprawling exhibition of ideas," The Globe and Mail, Alex Bozikovic, October 23, 2015.

"Lateral Office redesigns the Canadian campsite for the 21st Century," Dezeen, November 13, 2015.

"Review> On Horizons," Architect's Newspaper, Todd Gannon, December 21, 2015.

"What to See at the Chicago Architecture Biennial—and How to See It," Chicago Magazine, Whet Moser, Dec 24, 2015.