This post is also available in: Chinese (Traditional)
In Toronto, Canada there is a trend emerging; converting former industrial sites into spaces that are open to the public. These sites are being turned into showcases of creativity, sustainability and successful commercial businesses.
Artscape Wychwood Barns
The Wychwood Barns (pictured above) are former streetcar storage houses built between 1913 and 1921. After upgrades in the system left the buildings vacant in the 1980s the buildings sat abandoned until 2004 when Artscape acquired them from the city to develop into a community and arts hub. The buildings now serve as a community centre with two of the five barns converted into a hall and meeting rooms. A third barn is the ‘Studio Barn’ which consists of both live-work and work only studios for artists. The fourth barn is named the ‘The Stop Community Food Centre’s Green Barn’. The Green barn has a greenhouse, outdoor bake oven and demonstration compost. It is programmed with events and classes that promote a sustainable food system. Also incorporated into the site are green design aspects including geothermal heating and a storm water reuse system.
The Don Valley Brickworks was a leading producer of bricks in Canada, operating from 1889 until the 1980s. Today it is being transformed into an environmental community centre. The buildings are being restored and renovated to green standards and environmental and community groups are operating from the site. Though still under construction the involved groups are active in programming accessible areas of the site. A farmers market takes place weekly; as do gardening groups, exercise classes, and cooking classes. Special events such as picnics, outdoor staking and kids camps are also available. This dynamic space promises to be even better once its restoration is finished. The building restoration is taking a green design, ensuring low energy and water use, the incorporation of community gardens, and a comprehensive waste diversion program.
The former distillery for Gooderham and Worts is now a National Historic Site. It contains more than 40 buildings that have been turned into a pedestrian friendly district. The buildings were renovated to accommodate upscale shops, restaurants, galleries and theaters. Dubbed an arts and entertainment district, the preserved Victorian architecture and cobblestone streets have become a tourist attraction in Toronto.
Though each of these sites are unique they have common elements, which probably contribute to their success. First, the community which uses them was and is heavily involved in developing the programming for the site, as well as the design. Second, they are all heritage industrial sites, which have been renovated using elements of green design to ensure their sustainability. These sites do not try to preserve the buildings as a museum, but rather adapt them to be meaningful public spaces for the community to use and enjoy.