November 5, 2007 - Canadian Centre for Architecture - 1973: Sorry, Out of Gas
November 5, 2007

1973: Sorry, Out of Gas

George Löf, designer and engineer with
glass plate used in solar collectors, 1975
Photo Copyright Jon Naar, 2007

1973: Sorry, Out of Gas
7 November 2007 to 20 April 2008

1920, rue Baile
Montreal, Québec, Canada
H3H 2S6
514 939 7026

Curated by Mirko Zardini, CCA Director and Chief Curator, with Giovanna Borasi, CCA Curator of Contemporary Architecture, the exhibition presents an unprecedented exploration of the architectural response to the 1973 oil crisis.

The exhibition 1973: Sorry, Out of Gas and its accompanying catalogue are the first to study the architectural innovation spurred by the 1973 oil crisis, when the value of oil increased exponentially and triggered economic, political, and social upheaval across the world. Featuring over 350 objects including architectural drawings, photographs, books and pamphlets, archival television footage, and historical artefacts, the exhibition maps the global response to the shortage and its relevance to architecture today.

The research and innovations of thirty years ago are of particular relevance in the context of contemporary concerns about diminishing energy resources. While influential at the time, much of the innovative work of architects, engineers, and activist groups of the period was forgotten once financial markets and energy distribution systems adjusted, and political focus diminished. Today, however, a new sense of urgency is emerging, provoked by the reality of a deteriorating environment and a finite supply of fossil fuels. “It is of vital importance to consider the radical yet, in many cases, little-known work from the 1970s as architects today struggle to address similar issues,” said CCA Director and exhibition curator Mirko Zardini. “By providing insight on the forerunners of many contemporary approaches to sustainable living, the exhibition aims to increase public awareness and encourage contemporary research in the field.”


The accompanying catalogue, Sorry, Out of Gas, is a unique publishing project combining the diverse materials assembled for the exhibition with a specifically commissioned children’s component by illustrator Harriet Russell. In her 32-page story entitled “An Endangered Species,” Ms. Russell introduces the exhibition’s subject to a broader audience of young readers. With her distinctive drawings and hand-lettered text, Ms. Russell uses humour to describe the role of oil in daily life and to suggest alternatives to this rapidly diminishing resource.

An essay by curator Mirko Zardini follows the introductory children’s component, while specific themes and projects are highlighted throughout the book in short texts written by co-curator Giovanna Borasi along with Adam Bobbette, Daria Der Kaloustian, and Pierre-Edouard Latouche.

Co-published by the CCA and Corraini Edizioni, Mantua, and designed by Massimo Pitis with Bianca Baldacci, Sorry, Out of Gas reproduces over 200 colour and black-and-white images on 232 pages. The volume is available at the CCA Bookstore.


Created by Montréal-based architect Gilles Saucier of Saucier + Perrotte Architectes, the exhibition design employs an imposing, dark structure that links the different galleries and establishes a continuous flow among the content. Visitors can choose different paths through the space, where thematic ideas are centered in certain areas but the presentation of material reflects the mixing of concepts and research of the period. The graphic design is by Zab Design & Typography of Winnipeg, Canada.


1973: Sorry, Out of Gas is the third in a series of thematic exhibitions organised by the CCA to explore contemporary issues in architecture with a specific focus on urban, social, and environmental concerns. It follows Environment: Approaches for Tomorrow (2006) and Sense of the City (2005), the groundbreaking exhibition dedicated to the sensory dimensions of urban life that have traditionally been ignored or repressed.

The CCA is an international research centre and museum founded in 1979 on the conviction that architecture is a public concern. Based on its extensive collections, the CCA is a leading voice in advancing knowledge, promoting public understanding, and widening thought and debate on the art of architecture, its history, theory, practice, and role in society today.

Canadian Centre for Architecture
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