A city that runs out of fresh, invigorating ideas is like a Hollywood star who overdoses on botox, flames out, then dies. Do not confuse construction cranes with enduring urbanity. After all, the collapse of ancient Rome was well under way even while endless roads were being laid. In Toronto right now, for example, a lot of angst is being created over landing a mega-casino development – a deadening scenario and a sure sign that kick-ass imagination has gone missing. Shouldn't a city intent on the future be lighting bonfires of creativity?
So I decided to call up the class of the millennial generation. After all, the shape and integrity of the future city belong to the architecture students busting their brains at university these days, not the old guys shopping around old-style, inward-looking circuses and casinos. I contacted the deans and directors of every school of architecture across the country and asked for a short list of the best, most agile, holistic ideas for reinventing a section of a big, booming metropolis. The curatorial cull began within the schools as studio professors were forced to select only a fraction of the projects that had inspired them.
The response was swift and enthusiastic – and nothing short of exhilarating. By way of massive We Transfer files, e-mails sent from laptops in Canada and around the world, as well as one old-fashioned courier package, the submissions came flying across my desk. Narrowing the field to showcase only a handful of submissions was tough.
From the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of British Columbia, Alex Buss and Alexandra Kenyon designed a delirious entertainment zone with people zip-lining under the Granville Street bridge, allowing daylight to flood into an otherwise neglected zone by removing the ramp of the concrete piece of infrastructure.
In order to clean sewage overflow, an issue that plagues most cities around the world, Kyle Elderhorst, newly graduated from the Master of Architecture program at the University of Waterloo School, designed a floating waste-water-treatment facility that doubles as a public park.
Carleton University's new architectural graduate Evan Dysart declared with his "Invisible Architecture" that aural, sensual dimensions be privileged beyond a strictly visual idea of architecture.