Part 1: Introduction to the Urban Layout
Last weekend I went for a walk east along Dundas, before long I found myself deep in the Regent Park housing development. Although this area is undergoing some major structural improvements, there is still much stigma surrounding Toronto’s oldest and largest community housing project. From what I saw, through innovative design and construction there is a significant effort being put into reversing the degradation and negative atmosphere.
In 2006, the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) initiated a $1 billion, 12-year plan to revitalize the 69-acre Regent Park neighbourhood. Originally built in the 1940s, the neighbourhood was planned after the ideals of the British ‘garden city’ urban model. Through which “modern” living conditions were established with low-rise units, meant to reduce the use of vehicular transportation by increasing the population density of a region. In this case, the density was successfully improved but the residents themselves suffered, and Regent Park subsequently became one of Toronto’s most infamous neighbourhoods.
Among many factors, the layout and organization of the neighbourhood can be partly to blame for failure of the original urban model. Many residents feel that they are separated from the rest of the city even though in reality they live close to the downtown core. In the adjacent graphic you see how the existing neighbourhood has very few bisecting roads. It is organized into North and South regions, which are only divided by Dundas East, acting as the major artery through the neighbourhood. The proposed plan is to open up the area, by building roads that go through these large North and South “superblocks”. Not only will this allocate more space for community green-space projects, it will also improve the livability of the region by reintegrating it with the surrounding city. Safety, which is currently a problem, will also be improved as the smaller blocks can be easily accessed and monitored from the surrounding streets.
Next week, Part 2…
Discussing the LEED characteristics of the new buildings and systems being introduced to the Regent Park neighbourhood.