Toronto's Urban Plan Strategy for a Rail Deck Park
The approach to the design of the rail deck park and the land immediately north of it came out of a shared interest in, as well as a skepticism about the efficacy of Richard Florida’s “Creative Class” theory and related notions of culture-based development. Looking back through a number of proposals put together by the Toronto Arts Council for a “Creative City Planning Framework,” as well as studies on the potential for Toronto to become a global leader in the knowledge industries from the University of Toronto’s Martin Prosperity Institute, an idea was developed about what the city needs right now, and how this park could present the opportunity to deliver it. This proposal is meant to foster and solidify the cultural identity of Toronto by designing a multi-disciplinary, professionally and demographically diverse district in the heart of the city.
The process began by accepting information from research in the first stage of this project, regarding the economic benefits of talent clustering– or bringing educated, highly talented workers in what Florida calls the creative class into close proximity to one another near city centers. This includes creatives in the sense of artists, designers, and musicians, but it also includes engineers, entrepreneurs, technology workers, and other people with ideas and generally progressive values.
The existing site condition produces a hole in the city, an infrastructural scar from Toronto’s industrial history, and it harmfully divides the urban conditions that are around it. This issue should be rectified by introducing significant axes running through the site, with anchor points connected to large public space to identify major entry points onto the raildeck. The intention is that all of these axis are to meet at a cultural central node on the raildeck, landmarked by a public museum.
The site is a unique situation where the park is located overtop of the raildeck, creating an issue in grade change with the existing infrastructure and a specific landscaping strategy. To accomodate this grade change, feature stairs are proposed.
Building Typology strategy
This format of program distribution is intended to keep the site active all day. The market would attract people to one end of the site in the morning for commuters and food at lunch. The tech campus on the other end would do the same thing all day, but also keep the site busy at night because of the residencies. Similarly, the repurposing of Draper Street to be a series of bars, the introduction of retail space, and proposed restaurants and cafes would activate the site in the early morning and late evening.
Physical Model (
Laser Cut + 3D Print)
2016 Super Studio
University of Toronto
Work in Collaboration with
Nicolas Reddon + Graham Schwitzer