REZONE AND REURBANIZE: Toronto’s Vulnerable Vernacular Urban Main Streets and Maintaining the City’s Local Culture
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It is the position of this thesis that the large scale condominium (condo) market in the City of Toronto is reinforcing the eradication of Toronto’s vernacular fabric. There is a growing sense that this is leading to the loss of the unique feeling of city-ness within Toronto, especially when it comes to the streetscape and culture within the main streets of the City. This thesis will focus on exploring alternatives to the existing and growing condominium typology in Toronto that is eradicating the small grain vernacular fabric along the main streets of the City and answer the question: How can we prevent the large scale takeover of Toronto’s evolved vernacular fabric, while still providing a means of growth and intensification of urban land use and building density without sacrificing the distinctive street culture of that area? Similar to Christopher Alexander’s findings of identifying patterns in The Timeless way of Building and A Pattern Language, I wish to identify a way to create better community, diverse streetscapes, and a more typologically differentiated densification, enabling higher quality architectural interventions. Toronto’s existing architectural vernacular types will be examined and a more diversified network of possibilities and solutions will be established than is presently offered by the development industry. The current one-size-fits-all approach of densification detracts from the streetscape and culture of the neighbourhoods they are put in and is cause for a disconnect between the existing neighbourhood fabric and the new. This thesis will emphasize the importance of learning from existing fabric and conditions in an effort to provide the growing city with a means for intensification without getting rid of the qualities of the city that makes it Toronto. This thesis has five sections providing evidence, research and data to support the need for a new, neighbourhood-centric residential typology that will provide the means for city-wide intensification. The purpose of the developed design strategy is to illustrate a design approach that sets out be a neighbourhood-centric intensification carrier, whose design principles can be used as a guideline for further development in other neighbourhoods within the city. The main goal is to better design residential types according to a set of guidelines that will cohesively bring the culture of that area together with a means for intensification and growth. Ultimately, the thesis looks to create a manual or list of guidelines for future intensification that can be easily translated and applied all over the city.