Sidewalk Toronto

307

Welcome to 307!

307 is the central office and experimental workspace for Sidewalk Labs in Toronto. This is where we work every day, exploring many of the ideas that might become part of a future neighbourhood.

Fundamental to our process is co-creation. This means making the ideas we’re exploring accessible to everyone, creating a venue for new ideas from the community to emerge, and workshopping ideas together. We believe this open process will help create a much better neighbourhood — a place that is inclusive and can become a beacon for people-centred urban innovation.

307 is home to ongoing programming led by various community partners, find more information here.

When Can I See It?

We open our doors every week for you to visit, learn about what we’re doing, and co-create with us and other like-minded organizations.

Since we’ve heard from visitors that you want to meet more staff for in-depth discussions on what we’re currently working on, we’re tweaking our Open Hours! Starting August 1, our new Open Hours will be on Wednesdays, from 6PM-9PM, and Sundays, from 12PM-6PM. To see a schedule of events, visit the “Open Hours at 307” page.

We’ll also be hosting Open Sidewalks, afternoon-long events designed for all ages and abilities that includes prototypes, performances, workshops, and other activities.

Experiments and Prototypes

The Dynamic Street. For Sidewalk Toronto, we are exploring new approaches to pavement that aim to make streets easier to maintain, more accessible to people of all ages and abilities, more environmentally friendly, and highly adaptable.  That’s why at 307, we are starting to prototype a modular paving system. Each hexagonal “paver” can be picked up and replaced within hours or even minutes, as opposed to the extensive construction that ties up streets for days. And because hexagons distribute weight more evenly than square or rectangular slabs of pavement, they’re less likely to break down or suffer potholes.

In addition to the modularity, we are also exploring  the integration of lights into individual pavers. Today’s cities use paint and curbs to separate forms of traffic—typically pushing pedestrians and cyclists to the sides. We’re curious whether embedded lights can communicate crossings, pick-up zones, or other uses in way that is flexible yet safe: imagine a street that creates an extra car lane during rush hour but becomes a pedestrian-only plaza in the evening.

The Dynamic Street Prototype is designed with Carlo Ratti Associati, an innovation and design firm that investigates the impact of digital technologies on architecture, planning, and design.

Plan Your Neighbourhood. Planning a neighbourhood involves making tough decisions and balancing priorities. That can be tough to do with limited information. For instance, at the start of a project, it’s not always clear how buildings will impact wind patterns or cast shadows on public spaces, which can reduce the number of hours it’s comfortable to be outdoors.

Models and data analyses are helping planners address this challenge, including a new approach called “generative design.” Using generative design, planners can set certain constraints and objectives for a project, whether it’s greenhouse gas targets, density goals, park access, or building shade. The tool then simulates thousands — or even millions — of design scenarios to help planners compare choices and make adjustments long before a project breaks ground.

Today generative design is more commonly used at the building or interior scale; it has yet to be fully explored at the district or neighbourhood scales given the complexity of factors that go into holistic urban plans. We are looking at ways to use generative design to help inform the urban planning process and create complete communities that are more walkable, climate-positive, and accessible to people of all ages, incomes, and abilities.

At 307, we have installed a generative design tool that allows visitors to explore design choices, such as the orientation of a street grid, or the percentage of parks in a district. Users can see first-hand what it’s like to generate unique plans, evaluate how well they perform, and weigh trade-offs. Plan away!

The Plan Your Neighbourhood prototype is designed with KPFUI, a research team that uses data in the service of more livable, equitable and resilient cities, and Daily Tous Les Jours, an interaction design studio with a focus on participation.

Navigating 307. We’ve partnered with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind’s ShopTalk program and BlindSquare to provide navigational beacons to test how we can build flexible, public spaces with enhanced wayfinding capabilities for everyone.

These navigational beacons, paired with the free Event version of the BlindSquare app, provide spoken descriptions of the spatial layout, as well as rich descriptions of the experiments, prototypes, and exhibits at 307.

Tall Timber. Engineered wooden towers are the skyscrapers of the future, and a building typology that we are excited about exploring at Sidewalk Labs. We invite you to learn about tall timber design, construction, and uses in structures around the world in this detailed visual exploration that we’ll be hosting here at 307.

Digital Electricity. 307 will harness digital electricity, an emerging technology that allows for the delivery of high voltage and current using off-the-shelf cabling typically used in low voltage applications. This system reduces construction costs, minimizes the risk of electric shock as compared to standard AC power, and allows better diagnostics on energy consumption.

The Building

Architects Lebel and Bouliane, with general contractors Govan Brown, took what was once a parking lot and fish processing plant (including a smokehouse!) and converted it into 307. Daily Tous Les Jours designed the identity of the space and a flexible system for experimentation.

The space has been transformed into an open shell for maximum flexibility for different experiments and prototypes, with deliberate  choices around materials and fixtures. To give us a first impression of how our Tall Timber buildings will look and make us feel in Quayside, we have finished our entry in timber. We’ve installed LED fixtures, low-flow plumbing fixtures, and partnered with Big Ass Fans to reduce our heating and cooling load.

On the exterior, you’ll notice some people dancing along the side of the building, and they appear inside, as well. These playful characters represent our commitment to people-first urban innovation, and spring from the mind of  Montreal-based artist Cecile Gariepy, who stumbled into illustration while daydreaming in the margin of her notebook during her Master’s in cinema in Paris.

How Can I Get Involved?

For both Open Sidewalks and open hours, we’re eager to co-create with organizations that are near and dear to you — augmenting and adding to the experiments and ideas that already exist on site. If you have an idea for an experiment, exhibit, event, or project (or something beyond that) that you think would:

  • Contribute to the co-creation of Sidewalk Toronto,
  • Create tangible, additive value and build capacity for your organization, or
  • Bring new people to the waterfront,

… then we’re all ears! Reach out to 307@sidewalktoronto.ca with your ideas. On our end, we’ll ask ourselves the same questions, and also determine if we have the capacity (space, schedule).

How to Get Here?
  • Bike Share/Bike Parking: We’re thrilled to announce that there will be a Bike Share Toronto station right on site, located at Parliament and Lake Shore Boulevard East; bike parking is also available on site.
  • Bus: 307 is accessible by TTC on the 72B Pape.
  • Wheel-trans: A designated drop-off/pick-up point can be found on the east side of Small Street, between Parliament Street and Lakeshore Blvd E.
  • Parking: Pay parking is available at 333 Lakeshore Blvd E (enter from Parliament St).
Eat and Drink

Food and non-alcoholic drinks will be served from 12-6PM all day through our Market 307, led by Scadding Court Community Centre. Vendors will rotate on a weekly basis.

307 Accessibility

The front entrance to 307 has an incline ramp and assistive railings. Select washrooms are wheelchair accessible. ASL will be available for the stage programming. Please reach out to our team at 307@sidewalktoronto.ca should you have any questions about accessibility.

You can read our full 307 Accessibility Guide here.

Capturing the Creation of 307

To capture the creation of 307 and our Open Sidewalk, we’ve brought on veteran Toronto-based filmmakers Joey Gill and Gregory Greene from HiConcept Productions. The pair has worked together for over twenty years. Some of their past work includes the urbanism classic The END of SUBURBIA, and current work includes Lion Hunters, a series on the challenges and opportunities brought by the Lionfish invasion of the Caribbean, which the two have developed in Greg’s plant-filled Parkdale loft. “We’re drawn to Sidewalk’s philosophy of inclusive public engagement and design excellence in addressing the big urban challenges of today,” the pair remarked, and we at Sidewalk Lab’s will be adding more of their documentation to the site as 307 and the Sidewalk Toronto continue to evolve. The “Capturing the Creation of 307” video is available below: