It started with a vacant lot; an unloved, mostly ignored, plastic-bag-and-broken-bottle-strewn patch of city. I, and am sure many others in my neighbourhood, passed by it every day. Sometimes I’d grumble about its sorry state but usually I would just ignore it. At some point, I knew, given Toronto’s current real estate frenzy, this corner would be developed, its barren ground again serving an essential function. With earphones in and a whole other three corners to survey during my commute, I could wait a while for this gap in the urban fabric to be filled.
You may know that IBM is committed to creating solutions that help cities all over the world get smarter, in order to make life in those cities better. That’s why IBM and Ogilvy joined forces to spark positive change with the “People for Smarter Cities” project, that unites city leaders and forward-thinking citizens. To spread the word, Ogilvy created outdoor advertising with a purpose: a bench, a shelter and a ramp that are not only designed to be beautiful, but to be useful to city dwellers as well. Watch the interaction unfold.
Sidewalks figure centrally in our experience and conception of a city. Jane Jacobs began her influential Death and Life of Great American Cities with a look at sidewalks. My work this summer has taken me to all corners of the city of Toronto, and in so doing has shown me the many forms sidewalks can take.
When we think of urban sidewalks, something like this tends to spring to mind…
On Jun. 12, 2015, the city of Victoria introduced a parklet pilot project in its downtown core. Billed as an “urban oasis,” the temporary public space spans the length of two parallel parking stalls, offering pedestrians a barrier-free space to enjoy downtown life. Continue reading
When I moved to Toronto from Winnipeg in 2013, I was immediately fascinated with the city’s invigorated spirit, so much so that I limited my apartment search to the downtown core. I found a small bachelor apartment on Church Street, situated in the busy Church/Wellesley Village. One day while walking home from the subway station, I stumbled upon a series of parks linking Dundonald and Charles Streets, called the Dundonald Parkette. This stretch of greenery is a multifunctional urban intervention, offering space for outdoor activities. Whether a user is simply passing through, or passively taking it all in from the comfort of a park bench, the parkette offers a varied set of opportunities.
Urban dwellers are discovering that no backyard or plot of land is too small to grow their own food. Combining the local and organic food movements with DIY, urban farming is on the rise. Continue reading
Here’s our weekly review rounding up the best stories and ideas in public space from cities around the world. This week we bring you the campaign to make iconic Parisian plaza’s pedestrian friendly, designing cities for millennials and New York’s best street murals of 2015 (so far).
Against a backdrop of austerity measures and top-down planning interventions, “El Campo de Cebada” – The Barley Field, is an allusion to its former use in the 19th century – in the heart of Madrid’s La Latina neighbourhood illustrates the possibilities of upscaled participative citizenship. Formerly home to a sporting facility in 2009, the 5,500 square metre site was slated to transform into to a private market. However, a hostile atmosphere, coupled with a lack of political foresight, conspired to make the site economically unviable. And so it sat, desolate and fenced in, a veritable scar on the neighbourhood. Continue reading
On the first weekend of May, Toronto played host to the Jane’s Walk Festival, a three day bipedal celebration of urban space, as understood by those who live it. With over 180 walks held, the city was dotted with mobile crowds that consistently attracted the curiosity of onlookers – and even led to some new participants. Continue reading