This 2018 competition entry proposed an urban forest on the site of a former highway off-ramp near Toronto’s waterfront. We were thrilled to be shortlisted from an international call for qualifications and our proposal was the runner up. Encircling a plot of ground, the ramp had protected the soil against impacts of urbanization for several decades. A grove of “heritage” canopy trees in this protected area provided the scaffold for an evolving urban forest on the site.
Like some ancient city fortifications, which now serve as cherished areas for public recreation and engagement with nature, the off-ramp and the land it protected offer unique potential for a new public landscape. An urban forest provides sensory richness, wildlife habitat, and overall enhanced quality of life for park visitors. The path of the off-ramp is traced on the site as a performative stormwater filtration course that encircles the site and serves as a threshold of rich ecological, cultural, and experiential diversity.
The proposal encourages varied experiences, adaptation, and dissimilar concurrent uses through subtle layering of space and adjacencies York Forest weaves our expertise and knowledge into poetic revelations of the site’s and city’s ambiguous histories and lost ecologies. This proposal strives to reveal and celebrate Toronto’s interconnected histories of natural systems, infrastructure, culture, and community.