Imagine, a whole community thriving above the Bloor Street Viaduct.
From condos to accessible ravines, outdoor spaces,and easy access to transit, it would be a multi-use urban infrastructure in a space that’s ‘just’ serving as a bridge right now.
That’s what architect Tye Farrow is proposing. Farrow, of Farrow Partners, has introduced the “Living Bridge” concept.
Instead of densifying urban neighbourhoods with tall, generic towers, Farrow is looking at animating bridges and creating vibrant communities.
“The Living Bridge concept turns the tower on its side to animate the bridges that span our city, link our transit, and make our ravines accessible,” writes Farrow in the Living Bridges overview. “This innovative approach creates stronger connections with our neighbourhoods, and introduces vibrant mixed entrepreneurial uses that can replace asphalt wastelands that require suicide barriers.”
In 2003, the Bloor Street Viaduct had the second most frequented bridge for suicide deaths in the world, second only to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, and the City of Toronto decided to erect barriers to prevent further tragedies. While the barrier is proven to work, Farrow is envisioning more than asphalt for the region.
“A reimagined Bloor Viaduct would connect the lower river valley GO transit line with a new mid-valley TTC transit stop,” states Farrow in his document. “Above this, the existing street would support regular traffic, parking for service vehicles, as well as expanded bike and pedestrian sidewalks.”
Besides the exterior, Farrow proposed creating a new affordable community of housing using similar layers historically used by ancient Roman structures. Instead of the usual rectangular constructions, these houses would be circular.
To build this, the foundations of the to-be-demolished sections of the Gardiner Expressway would provide the underpinnings for the new affordable community.
Farrow proposes the individual housing suites to be constructed of rolls of grip-hooked metal layered and pressed together with sheets of veneered wood that has been infused with a polymer, thereby creating a natural carbon-fiber-like material.
Farrow says that, “in contrast to typical slab-and-wall residential construction, these tube- like structures can be built and stacked up rapidly on site. The units can also be prefabricated in workshops and brought to the site in order to expedite the construction process.”
According to Farrow, this approach saves both time and money.
And the interior designs are just as innovative as the exterior.
“It is time to conceive of new building typology that shifts single use infra-structure into the realm of multi-use social systems,” states the report. “Living Bridges weave cities together while creating civic, social and economic assets, creating healthy living options built atop existing foundations.”
For now, check out the rest of Farrow’s proposal renderings below.