IBI’s TODO Installation Examines the ‘Space Between’ at Yonge & St Clair
January 29, 2018 (Toronto, ON) – From January 15-21, IBI’s installation of ‘The Space Between‘ was on display in the lobby at 55 St. Clair West as part of the Toronto Offsite Design Festival (TODO). The installation questioned the traditional emphasis and energy that is placed on more prominent “destination” type public spaces, often at the expense and neglect of the less generous, but more frequented, public Space Between.
Several Toronto IBI teams, including architecture, interiors, systems, transportation, landscape & urban design and design technology, contributed to the concept. The installation saw the realization of three months’ worth of work and preparation in one interactive display composed of 8,000m of coloured yarn and projected raw GPS travel data, tracking how visitors to the Yonge & St. Clair area navigate its public realm by foot, vehicle and public transportation. Through a series of manipulations, this data was transformed into a dynamic abstract highlighting points of collision and routes taken by the individual and the broader groups.
The weekend before the festival, volunteers set up and organized 500 individual strings, each 17m long–equal to the total equivalent distance from 55 St. Clair West to the Toronto waterfront. The stretched yarn in the installation will go to local children’s community groups for arts & crafts and the remaining unused balls of yarn will go to community groups who knit gloves/scarves for those in need.
On the second night of the festival, TODO also hosted a panel discussion at 55 St. Clair West called UNDO Toronto. The talk covered a simple but exciting premise: given the power to go back in time and undo one thing about Toronto, what would you change? Representing IBI Group was Director and winner of the Governor General Award of Architecture, David Hastings, who touched on the themes of our installation in his address.
“As IBI Group has been actively working in the neighbourhood for 30+ years,” said Hastings, “many of our senior professionals have seen the deterioration or erosion of the public space around Young & St. Clair, as it made way for streetcars, pedestrians, more vehicles and unsuccessfully, cyclists. These obstructions have diminished the pedestrian experience and the neighbourhood.”
He suggested an undo-ing or taking away of certain elements to help connect Yonge & St. Clair to adjoining neighbourhoods, and experimentation to see what works. He advocated for complete streets with examples of other pedestrian improvements and streetscapes that IBI has worked on or that have been successful around the world. “Not only would this improve the pedestrian experience but it would open up foot traffic for local businesses and community activity.”
“Ultimately, with a heightened awareness of the presence of these spaces,” said Matthew Belaen, who led the development and creation of the Space Between, “opportunities arise to greatly enhance and improve the daily experience for all who navigate the public realm.” Explore the installation and local journeys of the public realm online by visiting #SpaceBetweenYSC on Twitter and Instagram.
Thank you to everyone who contributed during the development process, and an extra special thank you to the installation team.