the bentway revitalizes toronto's underpasses with vibrant interventions

the bentway revitalizes toronto's underpasses with vibrant interventions

the bentway re-imagines the Gardiner Expressway

 

The Gardiner Expressway is bound to be experienced like never before. Two groundbreaking projects, Boom Town and Pixel Story, are set to transform the under-Gardiner corridor in Toronto, creating vibrant and engaging spaces for pedestrians and cyclists. Following a national design competition completed in early 2022, The Bentway announces the initiative strategies led by visionary design firms and supported by the City of Toronto. With captivating colors, vibrant lighting, graphics, and interactive installations the urban landscape sees new light.

the bentway revitalizes toronto's underpasses with vibrant interventions
competition Waterfront ReConnect re-imagines the street-level experience of two under-Gardiner intersections (Pixel Story)

all images courtesy of The Bentway

 

 

Toronto’s urban revitalization project, The Bentway (see here), has announced the launch of two temporary street-level interventions aimed at enhancing intersections under the Gardiner Expressway: Boom Town and Pixel Story. These initiatives, collectively called Waterfront ReConnect, seek to transform the underutilized space into a vibrant link between downtown Toronto and Lake Ontario. The projects are a result of the Under Gardiner Public Realm Plan, a collaborative effort between The Bentway and the City of Toronto, which aims to reimagine the urban scheme beneath the Expressway. 

 

‘These projects represent an exciting expansion of The Bentway’s work along the length of the Gardiner and highlight the creative opportunities we can explore from end to end. Each intersection is so unique, but together the creative design teams have demonstrated how color, pattern, environmental lighting, and storytelling can transform a space built for cars into a more welcoming and accessible place for pedestrians and cyclists,’ says Ilana Altman, Co-Executive Director of The Bentway. 

the bentway revitalizes toronto's underpasses with vibrant interventions
the projects (located at York Street and Simcoe Street) showcase how the Expressway can better serve Toronto as a thriving civic asset – both above and below the deck (Boom Town)

 

 

To revitalize the York Street intersection, 5468796 Architecture from Winnipeg (here) and Toronto’s Office In Search Of (here) employ vibrant colors and environmental lighting, focusing on enhancing safety and accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists. Their design concept Boom Town takes inspiration from the ongoing transformation of the Gardiner Expressway and the regular presence of equipment used for inspections and maintenance. The project incorporates a fleet of boom lifts as a form of ‘street theatre,’ featuring a rotating cast of characters that bring life to the space and allow the city to celebrate the changing seasons.

 

‘We’ve very excited to see these designs tested at underpass connections to the waterfront. Our hope is that we’ll learn what will work best in making these intersections feel safer for pedestrians living, working and visiting the many growing offerings along Queens Quay. These projects are the first step in a long-term transformation that will ensure the that connections under the Gardiner can offer better gateways that invite people to explore the waterfront,’ adds Tim Kocur, Executive Director of the Waterfront BIA. 

the bentway revitalizes toronto's underpasses with vibrant interventions
Boom Town takes inspiration from the ongoing transformation of the Gardiner Expressway and the regular presence of equipment used for inspections and maintenance

 

 

Pixel Story, a project led by O2 Planning & Design (here) and ENTUITIVE (here), aims to transform the perception of the Gardiner Expressway by addressing various perspectives, scales, and speeds at which people experience the structure. By applying a graphic gradient, the project breaks down the monumental quality of the Gardiner and draws attention to the Simcoe Street intersection and the entire under-Gardiner corridor as a cultural connector. Color and iconography are utilized to create visual interest and engage pedestrians at the intersection.

 

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Pixel Story addresses various perspectives, scales, and speeds at which people experience the structure

 

As part of Pixel Story, a series of sculptural pixel walls are installed, inviting passersby to pause and explore the stories of visitors and residents accessing Toronto’s waterfront. These stories have been collected from over 300 community submissions over the past year, adding a personal and interactive element to the project.

 

‘This collaboration between the Bentway, the Waterfront and Downtown West BIAs, and the City of Toronto showcases how meaningful partnerships can create safer, more welcoming and beautiful neighborhoods. Through creative design, Waterfront ReConnect re-prioritizes people’s experience crossing under the Gardiner, and strengthens the connections between our downtown and waterfront,’ exclaimes local City Councilor, Ausma Malik.

the bentway revitalizes toronto's underpasses with vibrant interventions
as part of Pixel Story, a series of sculptural pixel walls are installed, inviting passersby to pause and explore the stories of visitors and residents accessing Toronto’s waterfront

the bentway revitalizes toronto's underpasses with vibrant interventions
Pixel Story uses color and iconography to create visual interest and engage pedestrians at the intersection

 

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Boom Town incorporates a fleet of boom lifts as a form of ‘street theatre,’ featuring a rotating cast of characters that bring life to the space

the bentway revitalizes toronto's underpasses with vibrant interventions
‘the creative design teams have demonstrated how color, pattern, environmental lighting, and storytelling can transform a space built for cars into a more welcoming and accessible place for pedestrians and cyclists,’ says Ilana Altman, Co-Executive Director of The Bentway

 

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Boom Town at York Street, south of Raptors Way; Pixel Story at Simcoe Street, south of Roundhouse Park

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