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A Thick Green Line: Extracting Public Space from Infrastructure

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posted on 2023-06-28, 15:15 authored by Cheryl AtkinsonCheryl Atkinson

The speed and intensity of the current residential high-rise development of Toronto’s downtown core is unprecedented in North America. While this new population has significantly rejuvenated the street life and economy of this area, the public space to support it remains severely inadequate in quality, extent, and connectivity. This design proposal looks at the opportunities available to extract new public domain from existing remnant infrastructure within the historic core. By analyzing the urban design history of this area, and current pedestrian and traffic patterns, a new intervention is proposed that re-allocates space from cars to people. This proposal creates new amenity space and links a number of vestigial and derelict historic public squares into a larger comprehensive system. The proposed linear park establishes a needed cultural, civic, and community focus and encourages walking and cycling for this live-work population. The design is made present by a hyper-articulation of its horizontal surface—a repetitive and continuous paving with a memorable pattern and form. This strategy is a pragmatic but aggressive approach that recognizes the criticality of extracting a pedestrian realm within the emerging hyper-density of this particular car-oriented city. It makes use of available historic patterns, and existing redundant traffic infrastructure, to create place, meaning, and amenity.

 

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