Tag Archives: Toronto

OpenCity Weekly Review

Riot Police assault on the Opera House

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 fire and violence, but also knitting and a comfy micro-climate. Continue reading

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Under Construction

When developers in big cities begin new projects—whether repairing old buildings or creating new ones—their initial focus in preparing the site seems to revolve around due diligence. Have the neighbours been notified? Will activity remain within noise and traffic by-laws? And always, has the construction site been physically separated safely from the public realm?

The barriers between construction sites and the sidewalk are typically crafted out of simple boards, scaffolding or plywood. There is nothing particularly attractive about these dividers. Often they will be plastered with posters, and in cases where developers have gone to greater effort, the temporary walls may display images and slogans to market the condos that are being built. These dividers do nothing to add to the passerby’s experience, and if anything, detract from simply walking down the street.

Here in Toronto, one developer has taken a very different approach in separating a new condo construction site from pedestrians. This group is developing an old industrial site that had once been a distillery. Section by section they have refurbished old buildings along cobblestone streets and created new spaces for shops and artisans. Instead of slapping up simple barriers around a new condo site, the developers have built a unique, attractive wall as a hoarding.

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Art or Bike Parking?

Planned art installation? Spontaneous intervention? New bike parking? We’re not sure what the inspiration was for these bikes playfully hanging from a tree in Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods Park but it definitely got our attention. We love these unexpected and creative changes to our public spaces that make them more enjoyable experiences. Let us know if you saw this over the weekend and bonus points if you can tell us why the bikes were in the tree.

photo by Melissa Daniels

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Thirsty Cities

Toronto throws away tens of millions of water bottles every year, yet Toronto has some of the best tap water in the world.

Only 20 years ago, water bottles were rare, found in “fancy” carbonated waters from Europe or some other speciality brand. What did people do when the got thirsty? Pop or juice maybe? Sure sometimes, but they often turned to a public drinking fountain to quench their thirst. And because of the need, drinking fountains existed in public places inside and out. In fact, like those in Portland, they often contributed to the public realm with their ornate design.

Today many of these drinking fountains have fallen victim to budget cuts or have been taken out without any outcry to save money or space as the need is filled with bottle water.

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The Importance of Being Movable

By Jake Tobin Garrett

Maybe I’m lazy, but the first thing I do when I get to a park, plaza or other public space is look for a place to sit down. But it’s amazing how many public spaces get seating so wrong. It’s shoved far off in a corner, or plopped in the middle of open plazas where you feel like you’re on display, or, worst, there isn’t any at all. Many times I have wished I could just uproot a giant concrete bench and drag it to where I wanted to sit.

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