Most urban planners and city leaders agree that diversity is key to creating healthy, inclusive communities but this rarely translates to the day-to-day living experience. We at OpenCity have spent the last seven years learning about what motivates people to spend time in a place and connect with others. We turned our attention to existing public spaces, that have evolved organically, and found some great examples in Toronto. Scadding Court is one of those unique and inclusive spaces in the city that welcomes and connects a diverse group of citizens.
Scadding Court is a community centre in downtown Toronto. The simple, low-rise building has traditional amenities you would expect at any community centre and could go largely unnoticed if not for the pop-up style market installed at the front of the centre. The brightly coloured shipping containers stand out along the street, housing vendors selling a diverse range of cultural foods, crafts and services. They are all part of Market 707 which has helped to create awareness for the robust programming available to people of all ages and cultural backgrounds at the community centre.
The relaxed, open environment makes people feel comfortable spending time at the market regardless of whether they are buying anything. Moveable seating allows users to configure the space as they choose, while the communal tables encourages people to sit together to share a meal or bond over a shared experience.
The space comes to life, inside and out, with unique programs that make the centre a platform for people to engage with each other. The Gone Fishing Program is just one excellent example of the activities that draw people of different cultural backgrounds and ages. Every year in June, the indoor pool is filled with live, freshwater trout. For 4 dollars, anyone can catch a fish, have it cleaned and take it home or have it cooked by one of the vendors at the market. Gone Fishing brings nature into the city, making the Canadian outdoor experience more accessible.
Scadding Court has been transformed into a neighbourhood in and of itself. It’s a buzzing hub of activity with active participants and community pride.
For more details on this Design for Diversity case study, and others, follow the link.
Photos by Wendy Gold