Farrow Partners’ Living Bridge concept is making waves. The interesting design reimagines the Bloor Viaduct in Toronto as a mixed-use, sustainable community.
The paper, “Living Bridges: Healthy urban Infrastructure as a Multi-use Economic Asset,” was chosen to be presented at the inaugural Healthy City Design 2017 International Congress at the Royal College of Physicians in London, UK, October 16 to 17.
To learn more about Living Bridge, we reached out to Tye Farrow, Senior Partner, Farrow Partners. We received some copy outlining the project as well as many exciting renderings!
The general idea behind Living Bridge is to take a piece of urban infrastructure and transform it into a mixed-use community, creating density, inclusiveness, access, and new revenue generators for maintenance.
“We are living in one of the most exciting times to be alive in human history, abundant with innovations at a breakneck speed affecting all facets of our lives around us,” says Farrow in the paper. “However, we are still thinking of infrastructure, and constructing buildings, the same way we did in the 1900s and solving our urban needs the same way as we did in that period. The future of accessible, affordable housing and multi-use infrastructure will be built with lighter, more flexible, less expensive and more resource efficient construction materials and methods.”
Farrow points out that there is a great opportunity to rethink how our single-use infrastructure can be used while our governments are investing time and money repairing and upgrading it. “We have the ability to literally bridge our weak urban links between neighbourhoods to forge stronger community connections in the middle of urban centres,” he says.
The Bloor Viaduct was targeted because bridges are in a “perpetual state of disrepair.” Farrow used the Ponte Vecchio Bridge in Florence and The Rialto Bridge in Venice as examples of how to make better use of bridges. Ponte Vecchio had shops built around it in the 15th century to generate rental income that was used to maintain the bridge.
“At a time when governments are wrestling with big decisions about infrastructure spending, economic stimulation and promoting a more inclusive society with healthy housing options, we can’t use the same thinking or we will get the same tired outcomes,” Farrow explains. “We can and must take advantage of new approaches that build on our past foundations to create cities that are affordable to people who are essential to the future of thriving, resilient communities, cities that are density (sic), inclusiveness (sic), affordability (sic) and importantly, that thrive.”
Without a doubt, Toronto needs to start looking at innovative ways to embrace higher density construction in order to accommodate the growing population and control the rising housing prices.
The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) recently announced that the average price of a new condo unit in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) hit a record high in June 2017, reaching $627,000. And according to Urbanation, the new condo supply has fallen to a 15-year low with a little more than two months of supply available.
The GTA clearly needs more supply in order to keep prices at an affordable level. The redevelopment of single-use urban infrastructure may be a solution. As Farrow demonstrates with Living Bridge, it’s also important to make sure we’re not only building additional, high density housing, but also establishing well rounded communities.
Farrow Partners will be posting Living Bridge updates on Instagram!