2006 04 06
Active 18, Social Networks, and the Future of Cities
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The community group Active 18's influence on the urban design of its neighbourhood may well represent the future of how cities will be designed. In case you didn't know, the group represents residents of Ward 18 and the Toronto district known as the "Triangle." Long considered the nexus of Toronto's arts community, Queen Street West is a unique place.

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Existing and developer proposed building heights on Queen Street

That's why when a rash of development activity started residents asked what all this building was going to look like and how would it impact their neighbourhood. This is not a cliche story about downtrodden residence up against big, bad developers. People in this neighbourhood are smart, media aware, and are part of a well-established social network. Their approach was to ask what can we do to make the proposed developments better. The group gathered together some impressive experts from the design community including artists, architects, urban designers and economists. Meetings and a design charrette - plus hundreds of hours of pro bono work - generated a scheme that is exponentially more considered than a standard, not a lot of time or money to think of the big picture, developer proposal.

The city noticed. So did the OMB who asked all the groups involved to work together to come up with a mutually beneficial scheme.

Giving other community groups access to urban design best-practices through the Internet, for example, may well change the face of cities one development project at a time.

More on this story tomorrow.
[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 04/06
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