Upcoming Events

Jun 8 2020 Calls / Competitions /

Call for Submissions | Virtual Pride Floats 2020

Information and Technical Briefing Session | May 21, 2020 | 6:00 PM
Submissions Due | June 8, 2020 EOD
Launch | June 18, 2020


RSVP for Info Session: tsa@torontosocietyofarchitects.ca

TSA Pride Parade Float 2019

Photo by Kurtis Chen

Category is: Virtual Float Fantasy! Looking to create new, inventive and unique shared spaces for community and celebration while we all do our part staying home, the TSA is taking our Pride celebrations to the virtual public realm with a one-of-a-kind design challenge.

We are inviting all the architecture and design community — from students to established practices, art collectives to emerging practitioners — to design and build virtual floats to be featured as part of a series of virtually inhabitable spaces during this year’s Pride Week (June 20-28). Floats will be launched with a virtual reception where designers will have the opportunity to share the stories behind their designs and will be open for any group to use to host virtual meetups during Pride Week and beyond.


Theme: OUT

In a time we must all stay in, the digital floats should explore the idea of out.

To be out means to be yourself. It means relief from constant concealment of your gender, sexuality and identity, and it carries with it connotations of public and private. It is liberating, and it is political; in some places, it is even criminal. The spaces we design and inhabit, whether we know it or not, manifest physically the notions of outness—from the victorian house on Church Street, colourfully co-opted to become a club, to a set of stairs transformed into a modern day gay agora.

What does it mean to be out when you are in? How does space alter the experience of private and public life? How do we celebrate outness architecturally?


So…What Exactly is a Virtual Float?

For this digital celebration, a virtual float is a space designed to be inhabited in an online 3D-world where groups of avatars (people) will be able to walk around, look around, and talk to each other. Think of it like a digital version of the winterstations, but with a LGBTQI2S lense. 

Our virtual celebration will take place on Mozilla Hubs—an open-source, non-profit, virtual 3D environment. Hubs works on any device, including smartphones, VR sets, in-browser, without the need to install any software. Hubs also permits multiple users (up to 25 simultaneously) to interact with each other in a space which can include music, videos, and other effects.

Pride is loud and often outrageous for a good reason. It is an opportunity to scan the boundaries of the so-called normal and challenge established norms. It is an opportunity for self expression no matter who you are. So with that in mind, we encourage virtual floats to embrace this spirit and experiment within this new virtual realm unrestrained by the rules of buildability in the physical world. 

Explore! Express yourself! And most importantly, have fun!


Who can Participate? 

Our Pride celebration is open to all participants, queer or allies, who wish to reflect on this theme and issues of diversity and inclusivity in the architecture, design and construction industry. We especially encourage submissions of LGBTQI2S designers and teams, and encourage all submissions to carefully reflect on the community and issues this initiative is built around.


How to Build a Digital Float (and some basic guidelines)

Participants are welcomed to design in the 3D modelling software of their choice (rhino, sketchup, blender, 3DMax, etc.), making sure to include all critical design elements such as form, texture and colour into their models prior to exporting. 

Once exported into a common format, floats will be uploaded into Spoke by Mozilla, a free, online 3D modelling platform designed specifically for hubs. Additional effects and elements including lighting, sound, video, water, and particle emitters can be added to the model to make it a more interactive experience! 

Some basic rules:

  • The digital models should be no larger than 15m x 15m x 15m and up to 50,000 triangles.
  •  All floats will need to be exported in one of the following common formats:.obj or .gltf prior to importing them to Spoke
  • All floats should reflect on the theme OUT.

Curious? Have questions? Wondering how this will all work? Check out the Resources and Important Documents below for additional information including detailed step by step technical guides to help you make your ideas into virtual realities.


Resources and Important Documents

One of the best parts of building a physical float is getting to know others who are helping out and learning from them! Our digital floats will be no exception. Check out the resources below for submission guidelines as well as technical step by step to make your 3D model into a virtual inhabitable float! We’ve also included a recording of the May 21 introduction and technical briefing.

Want to connect with others building floats? Have questions about how exactly to make your digital fantasy work? We are having weekly Zoom drop-in sessions every Thursday at 7:00pm to provide an opportunity to connect with others and ask any questions you might have to our Pride Committee and tech team. Send us an email at tsa@torontosocietyofarchitects.ca to receive the zoom invite to the session.


Important Dates

  • Information and Technical Briefing Session | May 21, 6:00 PM (RSVP required) 
  • Submissions Due | June 8, 2020 at midnight
  • Launch and Virtual Reception | June 18, 2020 


How to Submit

All floats must be submitted as Spoke scenes to tsa@torontosocietyofarchitects.ca. Instructions on how to submit can be found in the Resources and Important Documents section above.  



TSA Pride  |  The Toronto Society of Architects is committed to creating a more inclusive and welcoming  Society, profession and industry. As part of Pride Month, we have created a special series of events exploring questions of diversity and inclusion. Check out our 3 special events for Pride 2020: Virtual Pride Floats, Workshop on Inclusive Workplaces, and a special Pride edition of TSA CONNECT