NUDAs celebrate the best and most functional urban architecture and aesthetics in the GTA
Toronto-area architects and urban design professionals are honored for projects that push boundaries with innovative new concepts. As contemporary urban design continues to evolve, architects and planners across Canada are moving beyond simply seeking strong visual impact to putting functionality and sustainability first.
The National Urban Design Awards (NUDA), awarded annually by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC), the Canadian Institute of Planners and the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects, recognize projects that have “contributed to the quality of life in our cities and their sustainability,” according to the RAIC website.
“Good designs contribute on many levels,” says Marc Boutin, Calgary architect and NUDA jury member. “They can be aesthetic, they can bring joy and poetry to someone’s daily life, but they also have performative aspects. They can be environmentally sound, so they deal with stormwater management or the proper use of building materials, or they help reforest an area and create a canopy that provides better air and removes pollutants.
The awards recognize both completed projects and those still in the conceptual stage, because “ideation and execution both present unique challenges,” says Boutin.
Five GTA initiatives are among NUDA’s 2022 winners, including transforming the site of a coal-fired power plant into a new waterfront community, connecting a college campus to its neighboring green space, and revitalizing the one of the newest landmarks in downtown Toronto.
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO
ACCESSIBLE LAND TRAIL
Winner of Civic Design Projects
Perched on the edge of the Highland Creek ravine, the University of Toronto Scarborough campus was for decades disconnected from the verdant valley 26 meters below. Today, a 400-meter-long scenic trail, complete with bridges and lookouts, incorporating the site’s Indigenous history, provides a striking and accessible connection for students and the community.
Designer Mark Schollen explains that the idea was to offer “the experience of descending from the treetops, through the tree canopy and down to the stream below”.
The trail incorporates mobility vehicle charging stations along the way, and LED strips built into the handrails create a “ribbon of light down the valley at night,” he says, without disturbing nocturnal wildlife.
“Lookouts have become places where students gather to work and hold teleconferences because we have WI-FI there. It really has become more of a place to enjoy than just a thoroughfare.
VILLAGE ON THE LAKE
Sustainable Development Winner
When the first residents start arriving in 2026, the former site of a coal-fired power plant will have been transformed into a vibrant, mixed-use lakeside community in southeast Mississauga. Lakeview Village will use water from a nearby treatment plant to heat and cool its residential and commercial buildings, and concrete and rubble from the foundations of the old power plant are being used to build the new Jim Tovey Lakeview Conservation Area. 64 acres.
Long-buried Serson Creek returns to its natural course, while 3.5 kilometers of the Trans Canada Waterfront Trail will be created along the lake shore.
“When you contrast (the vision of Lakeview Village) with what was here, the smoggy days and the coal burning environment of the past, it’s really a rebirth of a new community and a new connection to the waterfront,” says Brian. Sutherland of Argo Development Corp., one of the main partners.
MOBILE SUPPORT AS SHELTER
Winner of student projects
Why do we design concrete solutions for a mobile population? This question was at the heart of this student-led concept, which aimed to provide direct support to Toronto’s homeless and precariously housed people where they are most vulnerable.
“Rather than building more housing or shelters, we want to provide a mobile network,” said Michelle Li, who developed the concept with fellow University of Toronto students Laura Ye and Edward Widjaja. “Ultimately, it’s about using vehicles and temporary, ephemeral infrastructure to help people where they are in the city, whether they’re in a park, on the streets or in the ravines.”
In their plan, a school bus could be converted into a “sleeping bus” or a “shower bus”. A transit bus could become a health clinic on wheels. A shipping container could be reused as a heated temporary shelter. These mobile elements can be deployed to provide services in tandem with more traditional installations.
Winner of Community Projects
Now in its second year, this redeveloped corner of the Jane-Finch Mall parking lot is a thriving community center, splashed with colorful artwork, a public garden, street furniture and an indoor performance stage.
“It was used for a long time as a gathering point for the community, but it ended up being just a parking lot,” says Ernestine Aying of the Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre. “A lot of people have expressed a desire to improve it so that it can support these community activities.”
Corner Commons, which operates from June to the end of September, features visual and performing arts exhibits by local artists, discussion forums and other programs in partnership with community organizations.
CADILLAC FAIRVIEW TORONTO EATON CENTER BRIDGE
Urban Fragments – Merit Award
The focal point of the Eaton Centre’s ongoing revitalization, the “new” bridge connects the south end of the mall to the Hudson’s Bay Building across Queen Street in an elegant and twisted glass and bronze panels. The structure became an Instagram hotspot as soon as it opened in 2017.
“The concept was to take it from the orthogonal grid of the Eaton Center – it’s a square on the north side – and insert it into one of the semi-circular window openings in the Bay store,” said Vaidila Banelis , senior partner at Zeidler Architecture. .
“Our approach was to do a sort of ‘soft blend’ and twisting motion to make these two geometries work in a really elegant way, with a slight arc towards the bridge to clear the tram (cables) as well as connect the disparate levels,” says Banelis, noting that the span connects the two buildings at different elevations above street level.
A computerized lighting array lines the bottom of the deck and can create spectacular displays. The components were built in Germany and fully assembled on the adjacent St James, with the entire structure moved and put into place in one piece.
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