[submission for DesignTO Festival]
Traditionally, the sprawling seas of asphalt, generic box shapes, and car-centric “stop-and-shop” models of suburban strip malls seem more reflective of government regulation than any architectural language of form and intention. But for the past few decades, these spaces are where community and culture has flourished. The predominantly communities of colour and new immigrant populations of the inner suburbs of Toronto (Scarborough, Etobocoke, etc.) and the “minority-majority” cities of Markham and Brampton have shaped these purpose-driven commercial spaces into thriving incubators of belonging, cultural preservation, and communal gathering. Brimming with the mundane and sacred alike, these multi-use blocks of restaurants, salons, specialty grocers, religious centers, and small legal firms, all signed in their respective vernaculars, form their own beauty: disorienting and claustrophobic to the outsider but unapologetic, essential, and routine for their intended visitors and customers. In building forward, while looking backwards, the Incubator seeks to preserve and frame these spaces by putting their unsung beauty on display so that their cultural value and contribution may be celebrated and carried far into the future.
Dimensions: 8’ x 5’6” x 4’
Material: Printed graphic + wooden shelving unit