Credit: Harry Choi Photography

Toronto is the latest city to adopt a High Line-inspired concept, unveiling plans for a public park underneath an elevated highway.

Urban designer Ken Greenberg and landscape architects Public Work have designed a mile-long trail to run below the Gardiner Expressway, transforming the passage into a series of flexible community spaces.

‘As cities densify, we begin to view lost or underutilised spaces in new ways,’ says City of Toronto’s chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat. ‘This proposal is a visionary approach to celebrating and inhabiting a spectacular, dramatic space, stitching together a series of existing areas.’

Credit: Public Work
Credit: Public Work

Plans include using the structure’s existing concrete columns to create partitions between different sections, which could host anything from sports and kids’ clubs to farmers’ markets and art festivals. There will also be a grand staircase that doubles as seating for an outdoor theatre.

Waterfront Toronto, a public body that oversees revitalisation projects in the area around Lake Ontario, will lead its construction and public engagement efforts. Locals can provide ideas and feedback on the highway’s design and will be able to pitch names for the project starting in December.

John Campbell, CEO of Waterfront Toronto, says: ‘It will bring life and activity to a formerly sterile area of the city and will offer new connections to the revitalised waterfront.’

The ‘Under Gardiner’ proposal – as it’s currently called – has been made possible thanks to a CAD$25 million (£12 million) donation from Toronto philanthropists Judy and Wil Matthews.

Construction is scheduled to begin in summer 2016 and the first phase could be finished by late 2017.

Toronto’s High Line-inspired project follows the opening of a test lab for the Lowline – a proposed underground park in Manhattan. ‘London’s answer to the High Line’, aka the Peckham Coal Line, has also just reached its funding target.



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