“Nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come” said Victor Hugo, famous author of Les Miserables and the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Even though he was talking about crime and punishment in the mid-nineteenth century, the sentiment stands, or given this post’s topic, sits. A recent flurry of media attention and a nationally-trending hashtag (#SitTO) has finally started a long overdue conversation about Toronto’s public spaces, namely their lack of public seating. See, while Toronto has no shortage of engaging streets, vibrant neighbourhoods, and dynamic public spaces – seriously check out footage from Jurassic Park during the NBA playoffs – there’s very few places where you can take a load off. Here’s a few reasons in no particular order about why that’s a problem and why you should care about this in the first place.
At OpenCity, we have spent the last seven years learning about what motivates diverse people to spend time in a place and connect with others. Design for Diversity is a new way of viewing, planning and designing public space through a lens of inclusion and diversity. Over the coming weeks we will unpack the Design for Diversity manifesto to ease planners and city lovers into the practice. Continue reading
Turn on the news these days and you are likely to see stories about migration and diversity in cities that often lead to tension rooted in racial and cultural differences. An increasing number of people are migrating for a range of social, economic, political and environmental reasons. It is critical for cities, and those who love and live in them, to find ways to be more welcoming to newcomers, to be more inclusive, and design with diversity in mind. If they don’t, we face spreading intolerance, and potentially, outright xenophobia.
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is currently in Greece documenting the refugee crisis. He’s collected 14,000 life jackets left behind on beaches by migrants and wrapped them around the stately columns of the Berlin Konzerthaus. Continue reading
In a world as grand and complex as ours, it is easy to forget the value of play. Playing becomes the thing that kids do and adults are left with the boring minutia of the day. Companies like Facebook and Google have only recently reminded us that the activity is for adults too. A monumental move, this is about monumental play. Continue reading
Several months ago, the Ontario Association of Architects, in partnership with the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce presented a panel discussion, “Hamilton Placemaking as a Driver for Economic Growth.” The event featured talks by Jason Thorne (General Manager of Planning and Economic Development for the City of Hamilton,) Steve Kulakowsky (Partner, Core Urban, Inc.,) Sonja Macdonald (Principal, Civicplan,) Rob Zeidler (Partner, The Dabbert Group,) Richard W. Allen (Director of The Renew Hamilton Project, Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.) Continue reading
In an era where they only pump your gas in New Jersey, the glory days of the gas station seem extinct – the task and the place, monotonous. But even in Los Angeles, a city of stars, it’s quite a surprise to see this geometric gem. At the corner of Olympic and Robertson lies the most stylish gas station in LA. Continue reading
Souvenir d’un Futur documents the life of senior citizens living in the “Grands Ensembles” (large housing projects) around Paris. For the most part erected between the 1950s and the 1980s to address the housing crisis, urban migration and the inflow of foreign migrants while meeting modern comfort needs, these large estates are today often stigmatized by the media and marginalized by public opinion. Continue reading
Not only do I get excited about public space and urban design—I’m also a bit of an emerging municipal budget nerd. I volunteer with an organization called Better Budget TO, and earlier this year we released a report with recommendations for the City of Toronto to make our budget process more participatory, visionary, open and evidence-based. We also hosted a day-long event called Better Budget Day at Evergreen Brick Works (a great public space!) in partnership with Evergreen City Works. (You see, public space and public budgets really do go hand in hand.) Continue reading
Death is terrifying. The idea of becoming obsolete, ceasing to exist, is not a pleasant thought. We die, we’re buried and we can only hope to live through the memories of those who knew us well. Cemeteries reflect this ideology perfectly. While each cemetery is unique in its own sense there is unmistakably a common thread winding through them all, they are places to go and grieve. But how often do people actually visit cemeteries? And what becomes of the grave when those who remember die? Cemeteries are dead spaces for dead people. Continue reading