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Territory

THE RIGHT OF WAY IS THE RIGHT TO THE CITY
Toronto, Canada

DREDGESCAPING TOLEDO

Toledo, USA

EN POINTE!

Kagran, Austria
w/ Lorena Del Rio Architect

CONSTELLATORY COVE

Porto Brandao, Portgual
w/ Lorena Del Rio Architect

RECON-FIGURE
Far Rockaway, USA

UNLOCKING AMERICA'S CORE
White Space, USA

IN GRID WE TRUST
Manhattan, USA

LIQUID COMMONS
Hudson Strait, Canada

ICEROADS/ TRUCKSTOPS
Contwoyto, Canada

OUTLINE OF THE CORE
Rotterdam, NL

PLINTHESIS
Toronto, Canada

THE NEW MONUMENTALITY
Passiac, New Jersey, USA

Architecture

VARNA PUBLIC LIBRARY AND ARCHIVE
Varna, Bulgaria

STEAM STRATUM
Liepaja Latvia

FIRE DEPARTMENT HEADQUARTERS
San Francisco, CA

CONSERVATORY HOUSE
London, UK

DRIFT HOUSE
Arctic, Canada

TORONTORIUM
Toronto, Canada

THE INFRASTRUCTURAL SPACE OF APPEARANCE
Toronto, Canada

BRUCE MAU DESIGN OFFICE
Toronto, Canada

Installations

SCAFFOLDIA
Oakland, USA

FORMWORKS
San Francisco, USA

RE-RIGGING AIR
Copenhagen, Denmark

GARDEN OF DISPLACED ROOTS
Grand Metis, Canada

ENVELOOPS
Toronto, Canada

INTERLACE
Los Angeles, USA
w/ MG&CO

The Right of Way is the Right to the City
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 2015
Awarded: Competition Finalist

The issue of the passage can be distilled into how and where people move through their neighborhood — implicating ownership, accessibility, territory and the Right of Way. We contend that the Right of Way is the Right to the City — organizing a collective from individuals.

What is the Middle Passage?
Examining the competing systems that configure the Sheppard Corridor provides insight on how territorial logics are at odds with local organizations and values. This distinction is strongest when examining the supergrid and spine-based interior streets. We recognize the supergrid as a network of territorial expansion that has the potential to bring together a collective sphere yet is currently dehumanizing to the pedestrian. The spine-based urbanism of the interior block is purposely discontinuous, segregating and individualized. Any form of passage needs to negotiate these divergent realms moving through various infrastructural spaces that have differing hierarchies based on their connectivity. The potential of the middle passage is to preserve and heighten the distinction between the private and public — making it a space of politics.

How will people move through these realms? By scripting the shortest passage between each individual residence and commercial space in a 10 minute ‘catch zone’, we were able to understand new pressures put on the interior spine streets as well as points at which consolidated populations would move into the super grid. By unfolding each individual route, you get a sense of the time of travel, but also the context of movement – from interior spine to collector streets and eventually to the grid. Our zone of interest — where we feel we have the most agency as spatial designers — is in the right of way of the super grid. This is not only because of the larger width of the right of way, it is also because by concentrating on moments of collectivity, we can contribute significant experiences of exchange to the public realm that focus on the pedestrian. One of the issues of the contemporary city is that we are neither fully private nor public — a distinction that preserves the political role of each realm. Our main goal, therefore is to recognize the grouping of interior spine logics into islands that are then connected back to the grid vis-à-vis a middlepassage to preserve the private character of the interior of the block and inject more collectivity into the supergrid. Limited to just the interface between the supergrid and interior block, the middle passage currently moves people between distinct realms, yet does not solve the issue of the dehumanizing pedestrian experience of the Super Grid. The reconstruction of Sheppard Avenue East through the LRT construction presents an opportunity to more holistically consider the experience of the Local pedestrian on the Territorial Supergrid.

The Right of Way:
While we believe that the right of way is the right to the city, we are concerned by how the right of way is designed to empower local communities. This section is composed and then extruded almost infinitely with little regard for the differential local context, its communities, or ecological realities. How can the right of way synthesize the local context within the territorial grid? Instead we are proposing that a sheet of barlines that measure across the surface of the city acts as a framework for a neighborhood score. This would choreograph the experience of the right of way through elements of rhythm, meter, atmosphere, and rest.

How can the Right of Way be a strategic Collective Framework for Individual Tactical Appropriations? We have developed three system: Intelligent Surfaces, Infrastructural Furniture, and Stagings — to organize the Right of Way. These systems range from the Strategic to the Tactical, Permanent to Temporal, hardware to Software. Acting Symbiotically, each systems allows for extreme flexibility within a highly structured framework. Intelligent Surfaces operate as the Hardware of the scheme. Embedded with micro-diffused infrastructures, the material, dimensional, and technological qualities of these surfaces acts as a framework to organize the Right of Way. While subtle in their formal manifestation, these surfaces and their embedded characteristics create an urbanism that can host the dynamic qualities of contemporary life. The Second component of our scheme is what we have termed infrastructural furniture. If the intelligent surface is hardware, the Infrastructural Furniture acts as a platform — for instance Windows or Mac OS — to interface between the strategic and tactical. Furniture — from the local domestic; and Infrastructure — from the collective territorial, are combined into a structure that acts to germinate the site. This allows for local specificity to react to existing morphological conditions while structuring new development. Lastly, Stagings are easily deployable, cheap, diffused forms of urban events motivated by the local community. These act as softwares that are installed within a given hardware and its platform. We therefore propose an iterative form of urbanism wherein the local community’s engagement with the software determines its success and potential permanence. Instead of telling the community how to take control of the street, we offer a variety of scenarios and empirically evaluate their success. These scenarios can be deployed as a series of experiments and differing degrees of temporality. Further, they will be tuned to annual climatic patterns, holiday schedules, and civic events. This produces a highly flexible system embedded within an articulated framework. This staged occupation of the Right of Way does not need to wait until the LRT is complete. It can begin into construction to allow for safe public occupation of the Right of Way and reorient culture to walking. Construction sites often have large areas of land that are land-locked, or sitting empty – while inaccessible to the public. We ask — how can the local communities safely occupy these zones for temporal uses? We envision this as a way of orienting people to the street while empowering them to co-exist and benefit from the transformations occurring around them. Instead of waiting 12 years for a final state of the Right of Way, this form of urbanism recognizes fluid opportunities that can be ceased for appropriation by local residents. For instance, a short term skating rink could occupy two lanes for 3 weeks in the winter while laying vacant during construction. Looking in more detail at the Agincourt Site, you can see how these systems come together — from spine to passage to grid as well as the location and interaction of the hardware / platform / software.

Project Team:
The Open Workshop & Surface Design Inc.
Neeraj Bhatia, Geoff Di Girolamo, Cesar Lopez, Shawn Komlos with/ Blake Stevenson