Tower Renewal Project
Exhibit Category / Catégorie de l'expo: City
Location/Emplacement: Toronto, ON, Canada
Dates: 2008 - present
Designers/Concepteurs: E.R.A Architects
Project Description: (version française ci-dessous)
The idea of the tower in a genuine ‘park’ or ‘landscape’ setting was a popular notion following the Second World War. Offering modern conveniences, unobstructed access to light and air, outdoor community recreation space and ‘breathing room’ in the context of high-density multiple housing, the modern tower was felt to balance the best housing standard with the responsible use of land.
In Toronto these ideas were readily accepted, and the modern tower was promoted as a key housing type during the post-war boom. Providing a minimum of 60% open space was encouraged as a best practice. If developers wanted larger buildings, they were to provide a greater ratio of open space to building footprint. The results are the large towers and 90% open space found across the Toronto region.
Today this land is not being used as planned. Shy of the recreation and amenity space envisioned, much of this open space is either surface parking or is simply fenced-off. Rather than park-like communities, high-rises generally sit as isolated islands. City-wide this represents an enormous and underutilized land resource.
The potential of engaging these landscapes to address issues of local food security, community development and the creation of a 21st Century agricultural sector outline powerful vectors in which to re-imagine these neigbourhoods.
In many ways, Toronto is a leader in raising the awareness of local food security, yet our local food production still only accounts for a small percentage of that consumed. The abundant fertile land found in many apartment neighbourhoods, only a generation removed from agricultural use, are ideal sites for local food production. Tied in with compost programs and farmers markets, current no-man’s-lands can be rendered productive, self sufficient, and active focal points of diverse vertical communities.
Implementing urban agriculture programs in concert with thoughtfully planned mixed-use growth, clean energy production, service delivery, employment, waste management, and transport options, currently underserviced Apartment Neighbourhoods will emerge as vibrant sustainable hubs, servicing the local community and city at large. Applied at a the regional scale, these initiatives will have a significant impact on consumption patterns, resource management, and greenhouse gas production, as well as providing ready access to locally grown food.
With the average age of an Ontario farmer now over 53, the urgency to develop a new generation of farmers couldn’t be greater. Tower Renewal is poised to assist in reshaping Ontario’s agricultural sector by providing safe, nutritious and culturally acceptable food to an increasingly diverse urban population.
Perhaps today we can achieve the “tower in the landscape” appropriate to the challenges of the 21st Century.
ABOUT TOWER RENEWAL
The Toronto Area’s heritage of some 1000 modern tower blocks is unique to North America. The Tower Renewal Project is an initiative to reengage this legacy to foster sustainable and complete communities throughout the region, enabling a greener, more vibrant and more equitable Toronto.