Two tiny – yet versatile – outdoor public spaces are coming to Queen Street West this weekend
Outside of cafes and shops, there are too few opportunities to enjoy public life in Toronto without having to reach for your wallet. Free public space is the lifeblood of neighbourhoods – where people watching, snacking and small talk about the weather happen. In other words, everything that makes a city liveable.
Earlier this year, in an inspired take on public space, the Bentway transformed an empty urban area underneath the Gardiner into a popular skating and cycling trail for the community. Later this month, Doors Open Toronto will grant the public access to dozens of private spaces in the spirit of civic sharing. Now Queen Street West is ready to offer visitors a similarly refreshing alternative to the usual window-shopping (which, hey, we also love).
This Saturday, the City of Toronto and Queen Street West BIA are launching two versatile outdoor public squares at Queen St and Denison Ave., and Queen St. and Ryerson Ave. Designed by award winning landscape architects PMA (the firm behind the rooftop green space in Etobicoke’s new civic centre) and the multi-disciplinary studio, Fugitive Glue Design, the miniature installations feature curvaceous steps and raised platforms.
Both can be used for seating, or even impromptu performances: think buskers or dramatic monologues. Other cool features include perforated corten-steel archways with integrated LED light strips that make the installations usable – and safer – by day or night.
Perhaps most innovative, both sites will offer public Wi-Fi, which will allow data-strapped pedestrians to connect for free, kind of like at Dundas Square. This might also attract a younger crowd to the pavilions: whether they will look up from their phones, at say, the buzzing streetscape, remains to be seen. And lastly, there will be water bottle refilling stations, which should come in handy this summer.
Official launch event happening on May 5 from 11 am – 5 pm at both locations.