Sidewalk Toronto's vision (Image courtesy of Sidewalk Toronto)
The city of the future could be grounded in the past. Sidewalk Labs just revealed its latest plans for Toronto's "smart city" and this high-tech project is set to be rooted in ... wood.
Sidewalk Labs shared its plans at a public roundtable Tuesday evening. This is part of an ongoing consultation process for its proposed "smart city" along Toronto's waterfront.
The project looks to develop Quayside, a five-hectare parcel of land at the end of Parliament Street.
This community will be high-tech with tall-timber technology. These engineered wood products are said to be as strong and fire-resistant as steel or concrete.
There will be a collection of mid-rise buildings and a network of pedestrian-friendly streets.
No regular cars will be allowed. But some streets will allow bicycles and, in the future, slow-moving autonomous vehicles.
The plan is to create expansive public spaces, roads that can change in colour and use for each season and temperature (melting snow under pedestrians' feet), and even buildings with open foyers that will automatically be shielded by barriers during cold weather, rain, or high winds.
What's more, 20 per cent of the community space will be dedicated to affordable housing.
Sidewalk Labs, a unit of Google Inc. and parent Alphabet Inc., did not provide estimates on potential costs. And there will be many challenges to overcome in order to develop this multi-use district. Local zoning bylaws, for instance, could pose hurdles.
And the company’s plans to build timber structures more than six storeys high are not yet approved in Canada.
Sidewalk Labs has already been the target of intense scrutiny in Toronto. People have questioned its method and extent of data collection, as well as potential costs.
Is the multi-million project worth the risk for Toronto?
Perhaps only the future or city of the future will tell ...