Urban room: Dynamic reinterpretation of Toronto's urban voids

Ali Mohebali

Over the past few decades, Toronto’s downtown core has experienced extreme and rapid intensification, seen through an exponential increase in both employees and residents. This growth has severely outpaced that of public space, in the form of parks, parkettes, and urban squares available to service an ever-densifying area. This thesis proposes a way to alleviate strain on the existing public spaces by identifying intermittent spaces within the urban core that, in aggregate, forms a significant area of underused land. The proposed designs demonstrate ways of realizing the potential of this land for all scales of public gathering through dynamic reinterpretation. Two main strategies are combined for a holistic design approach. First, a top-down methodology investigates and analyzes the existing urban fabric through mapping to identify existing intermittent space. A subsequent, bottom-up approach brings emphasis to the importance of user experience by documenting select spaces from a pedestrian perspective with a focus on the qualitative assets of each. The results are translated through principles of place-making theory into innovative urban design elements, presented as a kit of building components. Derived from and to be assembled according to a series of guiding principles, these designs aim to create a new social dynamic in the public sphere. The efficient but dynamic reinterpretation of each individual pocket of space will, as a collective whole, contribute a strong and effective network of public space allowing Toronto’s wealth of underused land to be accessed, enjoyed, and of support to its vibrant and ever growing population.

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