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Safdie Architects reveals new mixed-use towers with elevated bridges in downtown Toronto

Canada Architecture News - Jun 17, 2021 - 13:28   3054 views

Safdie Architects reveals new mixed-use towers with elevated bridges in downtown Toronto

Safdie Architects has revealed design for a new mixed-use development comprising nine interconnected towers with elevated bridges in downtown Toronto, Canada by decking over a major rail corridor.

Called ORCA Toronto, the 474,000-square-metre development will include residential, office, hotel, retail and transit with a new 11-acre park at the heart of the neighborhood. 

The plans are stretched along the train line, Toronto ORCA will offer decks across the 100-meter wide active rail corridor leading to Union Station, which previously split the city. Proposing a major publicly-accessible park for the local community, the new development aims to create a vibrant park-oriented community for Toronto, which will activate the underutilized part of the city.

Safdie Architects reveals new mixed-use towers with elevated bridges in downtown Toronto

Covering 6.5 hectares (65,000 square meters) west of the CN Tower, while 11-acre area (44,517-square-metre) will be used for the publicly-accessible urban park, 2 hectares area (20,000 square meters) will be used for residential, commercial, retail, and transit facilities. 

The complex includes nine towers, while eight residential towers are designed as housing, approximately containing 3,000 apartments. 

Safdie Architects reveals new mixed-use towers with elevated bridges in downtown Toronto

One of the towers is designed as a commercial office tower, covering 900,000 square foot (83,612 square meters) area, with 450,000 square foot (41,806 square meters) of retail space opening directly onto the park. 

Safdie Architects reveals new mixed-use towers with elevated bridges in downtown Toronto

The interconnected towers are positioned to preserve sunlight on the park, and encourage interconnected access to and from the surrounding neighborhoods. All the towers are connected by elevated bridges that contain gardens and amenity spaces for users.

The complex will include vehicular access and parking within the decking structure, 65 per cent of the site area will be publicly-accessible open space, exclusively for pedestrian and bicyclists. The diversely programmed park provides a major amenity for the surrounding community. 

Safdie Architects reveals new mixed-use towers with elevated bridges in downtown Toronto

"As the city has expanded westward, the railway lands have increasingly become a brutal barrier between the King West Community and the growing waterfront district," said Moshie Safdie, the founder of Safdie Architects. 

"Our design aspires to forge a reconnection in the community fabric by creating a lively park that is economically viable and promises a unique destination experience for Toronto." 

"As an isolated park is unlikely to generate the diversity of activity required to animate the neighborhood, our design integrates amenities for city life like shops, restaurants, and offices into the park itself, drawing in residents and visitors alike," Safdie added.

Safdie Architects reveals new mixed-use towers with elevated bridges in downtown Toronto

The project combines retail and landscape by embedding shopping facilities under the park. With this approach, the team highlights that "inside-outside" relationship challenges the traditional shopping models, as it directly connects shops, restaurants and cafés with the park’s recreational experiences on multiple levels. 

The galleria opens up in good weather to encourage indoor-outdoor use and year-round vibrancy.

Safdie Architects reveals new mixed-use towers with elevated bridges in downtown Toronto

The architectural language of towers is described as "slender residential towers" to maximize permeability and preserve view corridors, while encouraging connectivity for pedestrians and bicyclists. 

The towers are articulated with stepping balconies and connected with elevated bridges containing amenities for residents. The bridges between towers form dramatic urban windows which frame city views and maximize visual porosity.

Safdie Architects reveals new mixed-use towers with elevated bridges in downtown Toronto

"The design reinforces pedestrian and bicycle connections through the site, allowing people to freely move through and across the site, both indoors and outdoors, connected to the existing network of streets and urban parks," said Safdie Architects. 

Safdie Architects reveals new mixed-use towers with elevated bridges in downtown Toronto

Safdie Architects is working with PWP Landscape Architects, ARUP Engineering and Toronto-based architecture firm Sweeny &Co Architects on the project. 

The project is currently under a public review with the city of Toronto.

Safdie Architects is currently working on the expansion of Crystal Bridges Museum Of American Art in Bentonville. Raffles City Chongqing Towers in Chongqing is another hotly-anticipated projects of the studio, and the Crystal Sky Bridge on the Raffles City Chongqing towers complex was opened last year. 

Project facts

Project name: ORCA Toronto

Architects: Safdie Architects

Location: Toronto, Canada 

Size: 474,000 sm | 5,100,000 sq ft

Landscape Architects: PWP Landscape Architects

Local Architecture: Sweeny &Co Architects

Engineering: ARUP Engineering

Clients: Craft Development Corporation, Kingsmen Group,Fengate Asset Management

All images courtesy of Safdie Architects.

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