Exploring Toronto's Inner Frontier
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It is without ceasing that urban spaces witness the cycle of their birth and death. Like the waves of an ocean repeatedly crashing into and withdrawing from the shoreline, the city’s sphere of production and human activity consume our environment, only to abandon it in subsequence, leaving behind, in a state of ruin, vestiges of civilization, waiting to be reinvigorated again by those who deem it useful or those who wish to capitalize by it. Toronto’s inner-city frontier, that is to say its residential laneway network which runs through the historic “park lot” grid system, has experienced its share of public/private use and subsequent abandonment. After having once hosted living units, commercial properties and other public amenities, the laneways gradually saw their abandonment due to by-law adjustment and technological innovation. This partial abandonment has transformed them into a public terrain vague and heterotopia within the “official” city. In their semi-abandoned condition, they host wild plants, street art and semi-anonymous social activity. Today, redevelopment of laneways by means of laneway housing construction and laneway activation for public use is bringing back an informal version of what once existed before. This thesis explores residential laneways in their current terrain vague state as a way to celebrate their unproductive and “other” condition, it highlights the various characteristics that make it stand out within the urban landscape of Toronto and finally it explores the various forces that are working in transforming residential laneways into a unique urban typology.
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Rashad Ahmadli (2023). Exploring Toronto's Inner Frontier. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/19524