Project: Under Gardiner gets Toronto on the road to a new public park

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Under Gardiner will be a new public park that will run for a 1.75 km (1.09 mi) below an expressway(Credit: Project: Under Gardiner)

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Toronto, Canada, is to become home to a new linear park that will make use of existing infrastructure. Project: Under Gardiner will be built beneath a section of the city's Gardiner Expressway. There will be new walking and cycling routes, as well as recreational and cultural spaces.

The 4-ha (10-ac) project takes the same approach as the proposed Miami Underline, reanimating land below a raised road, much of which is typically left unused. Although the planned stretch in Toronto is much shorter than that in Miami, at 1.75 km (1.09 mi) compared to 16 km (10 mi), it will focus a great deal more on cultural elements.

There are, of course, a host of other project across the world that are seeking, or have sought, to regenerate existing infrastructure for use as new public space, most notably the High Line. The team behind Project: Under Gardiner explains on its website that it believes this is through necessity.

"We are entering into a new era of thinking about public space," it states. "Globally and locally, revitalization projects are underway that merge infrastructure with the public realm. There is a general sense that we are at the final frontier of usable space and we need to work with what we already have."

Under Gardiner will run from Strachan Avenue to Spadina Avenue, connecting communities such as Liberty Village, Niagara, Fort York Neighbourhood, CityPlace, Bathurst Quay and Wellington Place. It will also connect a host of attractions along Toronto's waterfront.

In addition to creating new thoroughfares for pedestrians, joggers and cyclists, one the of aims of the project is to create "a new outdoor living room for the use of the 70,000 residents in nearby neighbourhoods and for visitors who use the many amenities and attractions in the area."

Under Gardiner will be a constantly evolving space that will host a range of programming. Up to 55 cultural spaces, or "rooms," will be created using the concrete post-and-beam structural elements that support the Gardiner. These will be used for music, food, theatre, visual arts, education, dance, sports, recreation, farmer's markets, children's gardens, community gatherings and more.

The project has been made possible by way of a CA$25 million (US$19 million) partnership between philanthropists Judy and Wil Matthews and Waterfront Toronto, which will manage and build it.

Construction is scheduled to begin in 2016, with the initial phase of the project expected to be complete in 2017.

The video below provides an introduction to the project.

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