A group of artists and designers, including 50 Cyborgs project organizer Tim Maly, have proposed a radical idea to solve Toronto's city planning problems. Scrap the old city, and just build a new one on top. Call it Upper Toronto.
Image by Brett Lamb from the Torontoist.
Maly and collaborator Jacob Zimmer, who runs performance company Small Wooden Shoe, have just started giving a series of lectures in Toronto to explain their project and find collaborators. Inspired by science fiction and a certain amount of frustration with Toronto's urban planning process, they hope to have a fully-realized and completely ridiculous proposal put together soon.
Their goal? To go on a tour where they convince people to write to local officials and demand a referendum on the proposal.
Tim Maly told us via email:
The conceit is that we're running the project as an artistic and theatrical exercise that parallels the design and sales exercise that leads to real developments being built. Theatre performers often dream of world-changing performances and meanwhile you have these real world-changing performances which are the sales pitches and presentations that result in whole neighbourhoods being razed and rebuilt.
All of this is being done with the understanding that we are purposefully proposing something impractical and to some extent completely insane. It's a dream of heroic urban planning in a city that's largely given up on such things (our city just responded to a year of record transit ridership by announcing fare hikes and cuts to services and the cancellation of a massive light rail plan).
We see three phases to the project.
Phase 1 is what Jacob and I have embarked on now, with a series of public lectures and workshops where we seek input from the public about what kind of goals and dreams Upper Toronto should embody.
Phase 2 is a period of cloistered creation. We'll work with a team of collaborators to design Upper Toronto. We're hoping for input from artists, engineers, architects, urban planners, public health people, the homeless, the rich and so on and so on.
Phase 3 will be a second public presentations. This will be a multimedia affair with a website, lectures etc. but the focus will be a mocked up show room with live performer/salespeople who will bring audiences on a kind of tour whose goal is to convince them to write their city councillor demanding a referendum on the proposal.
This should be a demented good time.
Want to get involved? Find out more on the Upper Toronto site.