Sidewalk Toronto

307

**Please note that public weekend hours for 307 begin on June 30, 2018.**

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.

When Can I See It?

We’ll be opening our doors every weekend from 12-6 p.m. (beginning June 30) for you to visit, learn about what we’re doing, and co-create with us and other like-minded organizations. We’ll also be hosting Open Sidewalks, a monthly series designed for all ages and abilities that includes prototypes, performances, workshops, and other activities.

Both inside and outside of 307 you’ll find experiments in progress. As Sidewalk Toronto evolves, the space will evolve. New programs and prototypes will spring up, and projects you’ve seen once will change over the year through the co-creation process.

Upcoming Calendar of Events
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.

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.

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.

Market 707
Market 307 will be a spin on the successful Market 707 from Scadding Court. (Photo: Howard Tam)

Market 307. Sidewalk Toronto is exploring new models for reducing barriers to entrepreneurship for communities that have traditionally been disadvantaged. We’ve partnered with the Scadding Court Community Centre, a local Toronto leader in advancing opportunities for a diverse public. At 307, Scadding Court will be setting up Market 307, a spin on their successful Market 707. Market 307 will feature vendors from their markets and programs, as well as several vendors from the Newcomer Entrepreneurship Hub, a business incubator that helps New Canadians gain their footing in an unfamiliar market. Each weekend, a rotation of these vendors will be onsite, selling food and crafting their trade.

Bowery Project, a not-for-profit organization that designs, builds and manages mobile urban farms all across downtown Toronto. (Credit: Bowery Project)

Learning Garden. Two concepts we’re exploring for Sidewalk Toronto are expanding education into the urban landscape and making the public realm more flexible. To advance both of these aims, we’ve partnered with The Bowery Project, a not-for-profit organization that designs, builds and manages mobile urban farms all across downtown Toronto, to create, maintain, and program our joint Learning Garden. Using inexpensive and surprisingly simple methods, the Bowery Project enlivens vacant spaces—in a literal sense, with growing fruits, vegetables, and flowers—and cultivates community through educational programs. Produce from the Bowery Project will be used by our vendors at Market 307 and wide network of local organizations and restaurants.

Building Blocks. It’s our firm belief that cities should be created by everyone, and extending the Bowery Project’s ingenious use of milk crates, we’ve created a simple proof of concept that allows you to use and create your own public space. Milk crates have long been part of the tactical urbanist toolkit, and we too see them as a useful prototyping tool. Rearrange the crates on site and with a simple, digital tool to create different arrangements.

Partner Programs
Civic Tech TO
Civic Tech Toronto is an inclusive community of people and organizations that share an interest in making Toronto more responsive, prosperous, sustainable, and equitable, through tech, data, and design. (Credit: Sidewalk Labs)

Civic Tech Toronto

Each Tuesday from July through the end of September, we’ll be hosting Civic Tech Toronto’s weekly hack night, where the group meets and works on projects to make the city better. Civic Tech Toronto is an inclusive community of designers, coders, urban planners, government staff, mappers, policymakers, students, communications strategists, and engaged Torontonians of all sorts who share an interest in making Toronto more responsive, prosperous, sustainable and equitable, through tech, data and design. A few of the projects that have grown out Civic Tech Toronto’s community are Democracy Kit, Women and Color, and Toronto Mesh.

The “Imagining My Sustainable City” exhibit by non-profit No.9 empowers youth to transform the built world. (Credit: No. 9)

No.9 and Imagining My Sustainable City, June 30 to August 12

Beginning June 30—our opening weekend—we’ll be hosting local, non-profit No.9 and their “Imagining My Sustainable City” exhibit on-site at 307. Imagining My Sustainable City is a program that empowers youth to transform the built world around them through immersive, hands-on, educational programs. Come to SWL to experience what a sustainable community could look like when it is re-imagined by Toronto’s grade 7 and 8 students. The exhibit will start with physical models and will conclude with digital models created over the summer through No.9’s Digital Camp (there are a few spots open still!).

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.