The creative force behind Cuppa Coffee Animation are repurposing an old structure into a massive piece of public art.
The Junction Triangle is in lift-off. While developers buy up land and business owners open shop, two recent locals are focusing on a different sort of neighbourhood enrichment: Adam Shaheen and Kevin Edgell want to turn their silo into a toy rocket.
The silo was erected in the 1960s, but when local factories began closing their doors a few decades later, the silo became an industrial relic. Covered in faded green paint, it sits just off the Dundas Rail Path, near the Edwin Street exit. Shaheen and Edgell have good reason for their interest in this seemingly mundane structure: it’s on their property.
Shaheen and Edgell are two of the creative minds behind Cuppa Coffee Animation. When the company’s old studio was sold to developers last year, Shaheen, the owner and executive producer, had to find the company a new home. Because he grew up in England, he says his homeland’s well-worn architecture contributed to his love of old structures.
With that mindset, Shaheen purchased 50 Edwin Street, an old power plant in complete disrepair. In planning the building’s restoration, he says, drywalling over anything was never an option. To maintain the building’s integrity, original metal fixtures were polished, rotten wood was replaced with cedar, and glass walls were installed, which allowed natural light to travel through the space. Cuppa Coffee still features grates from the factory’s original floor, but it also houses more puppets and animation awards than could be counted in a single visit. The space is personal, accessible, and downright beautiful. With this massive project tackled, Shaheen and Edgell looked to the silo.
As artists, Edgell says that he and Shaheen always had the silo’s potential on their radar. The toy-rocket concept came about naturally: the CCA plant originally powered a neighbouring toy factory that produced cars and rockets. Besides, with the silo’s shape, size, and affixed ladder, a toy rocket was one of few logical design options. All that’s missing from the 26-metre-tall structure is artwork and an eight-foot wind-up key.
The toy rocket concept also strikes a whimsical note that Shaheen believes is missing from Toronto architecture. Just as London’s Gherkin serves as an unmistakable, quirky landmark, so will the rocket serve the Junction Triangle. The structure will delight both adults and children while serving as a reminder that design need not always be rooted in function.
Shaheen and Edgell have started a petition to support their StreetARToronto proposal. StART supports street art initiatives across the city and offers grants for community enrichment projects. The application deadline is March 13, so if you’d like “Meet me at the rocket” to become part of your lexicon, you’ve got two weeks to sign.