Developing Publics: Opportunities for the Community in the Mississauga Employment Areas

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    Store and work, plan oblique drawing.
    Jim Shi
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    Rendering showing the space of the community workshop.
    Jim Shi
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    A lot of sports, plan oblique drawing.
    Jim Shi
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    Rendering of a view from the parking lot, showing cars and basketball and teenagers sharing the space.
    Jim Shi
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    Rendering of a view from in between the screens, showing the activation of the landscape buffer.
    Jim Shi
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    Plastics Park, plan oblique drawing.
    Jim Shi
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    Rendering of a view from the walkway, showing the bus stop and landscape absorbing runoff water.
    Jim Shi
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    Driveway islands, plan oblique drawing.
    Jim Shi
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    Rendering of a view from the back of house driveway.
    Jim Shi
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    Rendering of a view from the running track.
    Jim Shi
Author
Jim Shi

Examining Committee Members

Supervisor
Committee Member
Internal Reader
External Examiner
Geoff Thun / Theodora Vardouli / Nick Hoban

The post-war suburbs were not designed to be cities. As they mature and grow, these places need to adapt to take on the roles of new urban centres. However, increasingly it seems these places are inflexible to change in use and form. Furthermore, changes that do occur end up being large scale developments representing interests that favour capital accumulation rather than the needs of the surrounding communities. While these conventional urbanization models, consisting of residential, commercial, and office uses, do provide improvements to the public realm, they also create speculative pressures which reduce the viability for financially weak entities to operate in the resultant fabric. As such, local actors, community organizations, non-profits, etc., often find themselves unable to find a place in areas of planned intensification.

The thesis presents the possibility of the employment areas in Mississauga to take on locally initiated change and growth. Although once peripheral, many of these industrial areas have now been enveloped over time by new city growth and now find themselves centrally located in the region. These areas find themselves slowly outdated by the needs of contemporary industries, but also find themselves resistant to speculative development due to the underdeveloped public infrastructure and zoning policies designed to protect the productive uses they host.

At first glance, it is hard to discern anything of interest but a closer look at the landscape of these mute buildings reveals a strange urbanity. Here, a radical shift is occurring. Programs populate this spatial matrix with seeming randomness— a body shop neighbours a halal grocer in an industrial unit, taekwondo classes are taught in an office park, a Sunday service begins between two warehouses. An unplanned public realm is emerging in this productive landscape.

This thesis looks at the conditions propelling these developing publics in Mississauga and projects forward how we might capture and amplify those conditions to give local agents and communities an avenue of agency to express the needs and wants of the surrounding communities, ultimately nourishing, shaping, and growing the public realm of our post-war suburbs.

Project Date
Completed