Authors: Nadia Chan, Joey Ngai Chiu, Tina (Xin Xin) Cui, Agata Mrozowski
Institution: University of Toronto
Instructors: Fadi Masoud, Megan Esopenko
Coordinators: Fadi Masoud, Michael Piper, Mason White
Studio: Integrated Urbanism Studio: A Prospective for Equitable Resilience in Toronto; Graduate Interdisciplinary, Fall 2020
Re:charge looks at redefining the existing technology, industry and open spaces of West Rexdale through the lens of the Green New Deal. Most of the site is currently occupied by the Woodbine Racetrack and Casino with plans for a mega entertainment complex. This proposal envisions a development approach that prioritizes climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, and centers around investing in local renewable energy production to power community infrastructure and empower the community. There are three main programmatic areas:
1) The Efficiency Commons: Takes the existing warehouse and manufacturing district and retools it for new green energy generation and green manufacturing jobs. It will house the Sleepless Circuit– a new entertainment destination.
2) The Common Sink: A large central green space on the defunct Woodbine Casino and Racetrack. This new park will include a horse sanctuary, a large wetland, a successional forest that connects the two ravines, and a land art sculpture park that takes into consideration hydrology, and habitat connectivity.
3) The Verve: A former hydro corridor of 48 acres of unused land I now converted into a mixed-use residential, manufacturing and employment corridor that has a unique typology of warehouse coop housing and civic amenities that do not currently exist. It includes artist-run galleries, social purpose enterprises, and the Knowledge is Power Community Center.
The north-south corridor will provide improved ecological and pedestrian connectivity, flexible open green space, and additional points of access and direct connection to the incoming GO transit hub near Pearson Airport.
At this moment two parallel conditions press the viability of cities. On one hand, the environmental costs of modern urbanization are now coming due as exemplified by the impacts of the climate crisis. On the other, the social liabilities of development led by private interests have produced inequities in terms of housing, services, and employment. In the past, addressing one has often meant sacrificing the other. Forces that intertwine social and environmental issues manifest themselves physically in the built environment. For example, new density to alleviate housing inequity can sometimes occupy land that might otherwise have sequestered carbon and absorbed storm water runoff. Robust green infrastructure for mitigating floods might inadvertently drive up land value and costs of housing resulting in a form of “climate gentrification”. This studio will negotiate these seemingly conflicting endeavours by providing a platform for students from the Daniels Faculty’s various design disciplines (MLA, MUD, MArch) to engage in common areas and sites of research and design. In this one semester, there may not be the time to synthesize all of our knowledge into a single project, rather each discipline will approach shared subjects of investigation from a lens appropriate to their field of study. The studio, as a platform, will provide a space for student to work from distinct disciplinary approaches that are ultimately shared through a common body of knowledge.