Under Gardiner Public Realm Plan, Toronto, ON, Canada

Under Gardiner Public Realm Plan

The Gardiner Expressway is a partially at grade but mostly elevated municipal expressway in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It opened in 1957 and is now deteriorated despite the extensive repairs which started in the mid-1990s, often coinciding with significant commercial and residential development in the vicinity. Due to its limited capacity and high maintenance, the Gardiner has been the subject of several proposals to demolish it or move it underground as part of the downtown waterfront revitalization efforts. The City of Toronto finally decided to rehabilitate it and bring new life to the surrounding communities.

The Bentway Conservancy, a not-for-profit civic organization, is developing the Under Gardiner Public Realm Plan (PRP) to outline how the spaces under the Expressway can better serve the city. The supporting concrete columns for the expressway are called "bents" and their rows form a roughly 1.75 km long area, the "Bentway." Phase 1 of “The Bentway, Toronto’s Shared Space” opened in 2018 and is already a vital public space; backyard park, cultural platform, connector for the western Waterfront corridor and a demonstration of what’s possible under the Gardiner.

Transsolar worked with The Bentway Conservancy to provide integrated design solutions aiming to enhance the outdoor comfort below and around the Gardiner. Considerations on visual comfort, solar exposure, wind protection, air quality and many more parameters defying the outdoor experience of the users have been summarized based on multiple analysis in a guideline which will be used as the starting point for the re-design of selected urban areas along the highway.

In addition to comfort, Transsolar compiled a series of ideas and solutions to generate renewable energy on-site. These have been mainly developed with the intention of raising awareness on the pressing topic of climate change, but also to power the required urban art like lighting, e-bikes, phones, and all active outdoor comfort measures, such as heated furniture in winter and fans providing air movement in summer- essential to extend the use of the outdoor spaces as much as possible.

Finally, considerations on water re-use and air quality have been made. The use of vegetation is important to minimize heat island effects and is key to reduce run-off during peak raining periods. Also, to capture dust and PM2.5 particles, of which combustion vehicles are mostly responsible.

Under Gardiner Public Realm Plan >
Vision and Opportunities Report PDF >