Regenerating a land surrounded by freeways to create a neighbourhood at human scale, for human speed
Client: Private Owner
Location: Toronto, ON
Scale: Master Plan
Size: 50 acres
Project Duration: 2022-
Being smart involves turning great constraints into great opportunities, and that is what we do at Smart Density everyday.
The way our cities have developed in the past few decades has left us with a vast network of highways and roads cutting through our neighbourhoods and natural landscapes.
At the intersection of these roads there are usually sparse disconnected employment lands, only accessible by cars. Now, with many of these lands being repurposed and designated as regeneration areas, we are presented with both a challenge and a unique opportunity.
The challenge: Highways
With the site being surrounded by noisy highways and disconnected from the rest of the area, how can we create an attractive neighbourhood that feels connected and inviting for residents, businesses and visitors alike.
The opportunity: An hidden urban oasis
A near-blank slate, to create a unique and attractive neighbourhood from the scratch; a perfect blend of charming character and functionality. This is exactly what we did with an approximately 50 acres of land surrounded by highways and roads in Toronto.
We envisioned this site to be a shining example of a sustainable and people-centered urban model that can capture the essence of what tomorrow’s Toronto outer neighbourhoods could look like.
To offset the limited accessibility and mitigate the noise impact of the highways, we focused on creating a well-connected environment that is built and operated to enhance the pedestrian experience and increase the viability of commercial uses.
- Streets for people:
Safe, accessible and welcoming streets that prioritizes pedestrians and active modes of transport are key to bringing a mixed-use neighbourhood to life. So, we introduced a mix of vehicular, car-light, and pedestrian/cycling only commercial streets, supported by safe cycling and walking connections to the nearby transit and neighbouring communities.
- Bringing everyone together:
We believe that open spaces are places where communities happen, and any successful place-making requires a systemic view. To bring to life the spaces in between, we designed a charming open space system including a larger central park, connected to smaller parks and plazas across the neighbourhood. With commercial spines and frontages and strategically located parking areas to serve the commercial activities without affecting the vibrancy of public spaces and pedestrians’ experience.