The Fourth Wall: Transforming City Hall

Windows  and  Opportunities

Have you ever noticed that all the windows on our City Hall towers face inward? Nine hundred and sixty windows looking at each other and zero facing outwards. This can serve as a metaphor for the state of public engagement in Toronto. Many citizens feel that their voices aren’t heard at City Hall and many don’t even know when, where or how to interact with the democratic process. Casting a ballot once every four years is just the beginning. In between elections, citizens can play a major role in shaping our city.

The Fourth Wall

In theatre and film, the ‘fourth wall’ is a term used to describe the imaginary barrier separating an audience from the stage. When an actor speaks directly to the audience, or an audience member interacts with the cast, the fourth wall has been ‘broken’.

City Hall also has a fourth wall. Most residents are simply spectators, passively witnessing local politics through headlines and soundbites. How can we break this fourth wall and create a culture of local citizen engagement? How can we open the doors to meaningful dialogue and participation, allowing us to collectively build the city we want to live in?

This interactive exhibit explores 36 proposals for democratic renewal at City Hall, borrowing inspiration from other cities as well as from Toronto’s own past.


The Fourth Wall Booklet
The Fourth Wall Booklet



Curated by:

Dave Meslin; Adam Zinzan-Harris (Design); Hilary Best (Research)


401 Richmond Street West
Ground Floor
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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Monday to Saturday
10:00 AM to 6:00 PM


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