Simple convertible equipment allows main thoroughfares to relax for the weekend, taking a break from cars and inviting pedestrians to enjoy life in the big city.
Near my office is an epic 8 lane boulevard that cuts a barren swath of pavement through the centre of Toronto. These streets are common in cities around the world: grand boulevards near financial districts lined with mostly forgotten statues and expensive public art that nobody pays any attention to as they hurry by in a car. I became very interested in this street through walking and cycling on it. I started to notice interesting details, memorials, benches that nobody sat on because the 20 metre median in the centre was virtually inaccessible. Many artists and designers at different points in history had gone to great pains to create spaces of memory, to represent shared civic narratives and to excite us with a sense of grandeur.
I compared these intentions with the pedestrian experience of the street: windy, loud, dusty—overwhelmingly wide and a mess of concrete. In practice, what could have been a grand civic gesture was ignored by those who did use it (people in cars)—and avoided by those who got around by foot. I also observed the difference in traffic volume from weekday to weekend. As a street near the central business district, the traffic died down dramatically on Saturday and Sunday.
With these thoughts in mind I drew up a plan for some simple convertible equipment that could turn this boulevard into a weekend park. Foldaway tensile structures-resembling tents and umbrellas would be unfolded and unfurled on the weekend providing shade and space for vendors and chairs. Roll out turf could be pulled out for lounging and picnicking in minutes.
This idea is simple, affordable and flexible. It will provide the city of Toronto with a much needed central focal point in the summer months, providing a sense of instant festivity and recreation. Toronto should invite people to inhabit the city on the weekend, instead of fleeing for the country and further congesting the highways!