“On the (cutting) edge of the global city
BY JEAN-PAUL ADDIE & ROB FIEDLER
Juri Pill once described Toronto as “Vienna surrounded by Phoenix.” In contrast to the central city—a bastion of progressive urbanism which, under the intellectual and moral guidance of Jane Jacobs, avoided the meat ax of modern postwar urban renewal—Toronto’s suburbs have tended to be dismissed in pejorative terms as gray, flat sprawl. In the Globe and Mail, William Thorsell once portrayed them as the banal counterpoint to the vibrant exclusivity of the central city and its readily gentrified Victorian fabric; “a classic suburban wasteland, the newer the horribler.”
A cursory examination of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), however, reveals an urban landscape characterized by dramatic, and rapid, change. New built forms, social centralities, geographies of access and exclusion, and rhythms of everyday life are radically redefining how the GTA functions and how it is experienced and understood. Toronto’s suburbs can no longer be considered as relatively homogenous in terms of their built environment or social structure, nor can they be seen as subservient spaces that perform a secondary, ancillary role relative to the political, economic, and cultural Mecca of the downtown core. They are diverse, dense, and complex. They are ports of entry for immigrants to the global city, centers of production and commerce, and loci for new forms of urban politics and civic engagement.
The scale and complexity of Toronto’s suburbs, so often only partially glimpsed from the window of a moving car, train, or plane, are difficult to take in or represent visually. Yet snapshots of the regional city begin to unveil the multiplicity of urban spaces and urbanity beyond Toronto’s lauded central city and provide an opening into the dynamic urbanization and modes of urbanism unfurling at the cutting edge of the global metropolis.”
Photo: Gore Plaza, Brampton, Ontario. Satellite Magazine
“ULX: The Art of Affordable Housing
By Ron Nyren. March 15, 2012
Ten affordable housing developments take creative design approaches to providing appealing environments while controlling costs.
Affordable housing does not have to look like plain boxes. Though tight budgets may restrict options for materials, architects have found ways to add variety, mixing exterior textures and colors, breaking up massing, and integrating art into the architecture. Careful siting leaves room for generous outdoor open spaces—whether landscaped courtyards or public plazas—that provide places for residents to get to know each other or enjoy a respite from life in the city.
All completed in the past five years, the following ten projects (listed alphabetically) exemplify levels of design more typically found in market-rate housing. A number incorporate sustainable design strategies that reduce energy and water use—crucial whether the tenant or the owner/operator pays the utility bills.
1. Armstrong Place Senior and Family Housing
When people move out of traditional housing into seniors’ residential complexes, they risk becoming isolated from the larger community. To encourage continued cross-generational interactions, local nonprofit developer Bridge Housing and local firm David Baker + Partners Architects teamed up to transform a former industrial site in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood, building affordable apartments for seniors as well as a complex of for-sale townhouses next door available to families. The 124 townhouses are stacked around a large public courtyard that includes vegetable gardens; bioswales help manage stormwater runoff.
The four stories of seniors’ apartments above ground-level retail are connected to the family townhouses by a landscaped mews. They also have their own central courtyard. To reference the historically African American neighborhood, the architects patterned the exterior paint scheme and window placement after traditional African textiles. A wall inset of Ashanti tribal symbols rings the courtyard. The 116 apartments are earmarked for seniors earning less than 50 percent of the area median income (AMI), while the townhouses are intended for households earning 60 to 100 percent of AMI. Both portions were completed in 2010.”
Via: Urban Land