De-Hierarchize the commercial street : Nothing extraordinary, really.
Our proposal rethinks the commercial street beyond its traditional compartmentalized and hierarchized layering of functional spaces. Instead, we move towards an alternate organization where these adjacent spaces interact to form a multifunctional ecosystem.
Although such nontraditional commercial spaces exist in our cities, they remain a step away from becoming the norm. Inspired by our observations of the consequential ad-hoc responses that emerged due to the pandemic within these spaces, we aim to outline the many benefits such an approach could have on the commercial street. Hence, our proposal stands in a middle ground between a partial physical reorganization of the street at various scales and a complete shift in the way we think about and use the commercial street.
At the scale of the street, we first expand the space dedicated to pedestrians, as it is now required for them to occupy the street within the pandemic context. Through this, we diminish the importance of the automobile on it but value keeping it as an element of the street. Despite its contentious presence in urban hubs, it remains important as it brings foreign interest to our commercial street and has shown to be in resurgence during the pandemic as the medium for rapid consumption. Thus, we retain a slow, one-way car lane which gives access to a drive-through operated by adjacent restaurants and also provide another viewpoint from which one can see the action taking place on the street. Similarly, the extra pedestrian space becomes one to be claimed by other local businesses for various activities. Sanitary initiatives are integrated in the landscape with the use of urban furniture and infographics, serving a double purpose with their visual identity.
At the scale of street front businesses, we de-compartmentalize floor layouts as much as possible. Such rigid organizations were centered around an ideal of efficiency which has become irrelevant in the current pandemic context. What is now required is less proximity between visitors, hence maximizing usable space. To do this, the back stores and service spaces are integrated within the main area where possible. Elements such as individual items of furniture are used to make physical divisions between individuals. One-way circuits and open loops circulation thus result from the furniture, leading to more hygienic trajectories. To a similar extent, secondary (i.e service) exits become useful for circulation opportunities, or as alternative access points for take-outs. Inevitably, a greater transparency of stores' and restaurants' behind the scene processes is generated and leads to a more unique experience for customers. This experience is as enjoyable as it is informative, and hopefully, will lead to consumers more aware of the environment consequences of consumerism.
At the scales of the alleys, we reclaim the space for human activity as a complement or alternative to the busy street. In carrying this out, we de-cluster the street during times of high activity. The transition from street to alleyways and even shops to alleyways are made seamless and enjoyable. Further, sanitary initiatives are integrated in the snug spaces with infographics, creating a visual link to the main street. Businesses, visitors and residents animate the now-accessible spaces, complementing their bare aesthetic, making them ideal informal third spaces.
Our project aims to reflect upon the status of what we once knew, decompose it into its elements and rearrange it based on our new priorities moving forward. As interior functions are crawling into exterior landscapes, our proposal revitalizes valuable underused spaces and links them to the main street, thus creating pockets of public space amongst static elements with varying dynamics. The relationship of the commerce to the street is de-hierarchized, and a new one is created, with the back.
Appreciation of black and white drawings and inspiration from the 60s. The somewhat protestant or "non-design" style was convincing, however the perspectives were considered "sad" and uninviting.
Rich, poetic text, which transports us into a universe slowed down by the pandemic. Experience of daily life in times of health crisis that we are trying to represent, and proof that urban ecosystems can be very alive, even in slow motion.
The jury appreciated that the proposal leads to the alleyway and the back shop, as if the street was expanding into small intriguing spaces. But the drawings remain sad and use a typology inspired by Melbourne and Brussels, which is less well adapted to Quebec winters.
Moreover, the proposal was a little less developed than the winning proposal; the layouts did not live up to intentions and principles.
In sum, the juries appreciated the audacity of the proposal and the poetic aspect that claims the beauty of a commercial street on a daily basis.
(From jury report)
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- Presentation Panel