The New Nickel
By carefully analyzing Greater Sudbury's existing fabric, the team's approach is to activate the latent qualities that make Sudbury enticing and guide its future development. The intention of the proposal is to pivot Sudbury's future in a direction that allows the Northern City to surpass its label as the Nickel Capital of the world. What is the 'It factor' that will drive economic prosperity and sustainability? What will make Sudbury a viable competitor for livability and walkability? What is 'The New Nickel'?
As Canada's largest city by land area, the planning and development of Greater Sudbury has historically been influenced by large scale industrial projects. The first project, in the late 1800s, was the railway which served the CPR mainline connecting Eastern and Western Canada. The railway then expanded to service the second project: Mining. When cars became widely used, and the single family housing typology spread all over North America, Asphalt became the third intervention in Sudbury's lineage of large scale projects. By the 1970s, it was clear that industrialization had taken its toll on Sudbury's natural ecosystems. The Re-greening Project transformed much of the derelict spaces into diverse forests. All of these aggressive, costly projects are catered to the needs of one single user whether it be a resource, locomotive, automobile or tree species.
Unfortunately, the downtown core has seen little to no street life. This has driven tax generating retail spaces out of the downtown core to online retailers and to suburban shopping centers. One can say that downtown Sudbury was never actually designed for living things, but is simply the result of left over spaces created by transport infrastructure. Nowadays, Sudbury is much more than its mining industry. It is a center for research and innovation, home to diverse wildlife species and is a hub for sports and recreational activities. While in the past, Sudbury and similar cities and towns, were able to rely on single industry to drive growth and prosperity, the climate crises show that we must pivot our ways of thinking in order to build a sustainable future for generations to come. The United Nations specifies three major conditions for sustainable urbanization: security, peace and dignity. In order to achieve this, community engagement and harnessing indigenous knowledge become key components in Sudbury's future to establish access to services, culturally-appropriate housing solutions and green-building practices. Indigenous communities have a lot of knowledge to contribute to construction technologies, particularly when it comes to timber. CLTframed construction has many parallels to traditional log cabins and can serve as a vector for breathing indigenous knowledge into the bones of Sudbury's
The team is considering Sudbury 2050 as The Fifth Project. But, in contrast to its predecessors, will blend the needs of many users. The New Nickel, brings life into the city. The intention is to create multiple urban 'scapes' that have distinct starting points that, in time, spread and blend with one another, to create a positive urban experience for humans, wildlife and their natural habitats: Greenscape , Timberscape, Creekscape, and Hardscape.
If the Sudbury of the past was concerned with expanding the mining industry, automotive transportation and freight transport, we can now look to a future Sudbury that is fueled by innovations in science research, indigenous knowledge and coexisting with nature. Rather than interpreting them as barriers, the team explored ways to transform roads, railways, unfriendly intersections and derelict land into new spaces that serve as anchors for urban growth.
Slowly introducing pedestrianized streets allows residents to adapt to the changes while increasing walkability through the city. A portion of Brady St. is first pedestrianized and mixed use buildings are completed. Bio-remediating the railway lands and transforming it into a community garden occurs in phases throughout the decades. The Kingsway Arena and plaza are then built alongside the CLT Village, and the railway is brought underground. Finally, the Bridge of Nations is pedestrianized, the Junction creek is exposed, and the heart of Sudbury is completed.
400 m & 800 m Radius
According to Morphocode, a distance of 400m is the threshold where people choose to walk over driving, and walkable neighbourhoods have amenities and services within an 800m radius. In order to encourage walkability, social and commercial activities are concentrated within this radius around the downtown core. Furthermore, the 800m rule of thumb also applies to the acceptable walking distance to public parks. In our scheme, the residential neighbourhoods are within this proximity to the new community garden. Within twenty minutes, one can walk from one side of Sudbury's downtown core to the other, making it an appropriate city to implement this ideology to encourage walkability and mitigate the need for cars.
Building on the stewardship for nature that already exists in Sudbury, the community allotment garden provides a space for residents to cultivate the land and be an active participant in the re-greening of the city.
The CN railway situated at the center point of Sudbury's downtown core, presents itself as more of a barrier than as means to connect and transport city dwellers. The Greenscape suggests removing a large portion of the train tracks and leaving a few commuter train lines to connect adjacent towns. After removing derelict tracks and railroad ties, the large petal-like spaces will become the green lungs for downtown Sudbury. The goal of the reimaged rail lands is to promote public and communal spaces: community allotment gardens for growing food, recreational trails, diverse local plant species, connectivity and storm water management. The existing rail lands are bioremediated using local and indigenous plantings in partnership with Laurentian Conservation Area, Laurentian University, and Science North to foster environmental stewardship and knowledge amongst the community.
Historically, nearby timber mills in Sudbury were used for smelting processes and railroad ties. Wood is a renewable resource, a carbon sink, is less intrusive to the environment than traditional concrete or steel construction and can be quite beautiful when left exposed. The Timberscape transforms an underutilized plot of land next to the former rail lines into a timber village including mid-rise, mixed use developments on a pedestrian friendly site. The CLT mixed-use residential area implements sustainable systems such as rainwater harvesting, and solar energy use. To reduce traffic, permeable roads within the residential area have max 5km speed limit to allow safety for pedestrians. Pedestrianized Brady Street connects residents with the Creekscape, while the existing traffic is re-routed to run along Ste. Anne Road and Lorne Street. Bridges along the creek connect with the South residential neighborhood.
The Pinch Point
Where the four scapes intersect is the heart of Sudbury. When exiting the underground train station, the newly daylighted creek greets visitors and brings various vegetation and animals to the core.
The project proposes to relocate the currently planned 'Kingsway District' from the periphery to the downtown core. By doing so, the entertainment district will help to activate downtown street life. Thousands of arena attendees will be encouraged to expand their concert-going and sport experiences by shopping or dining at nearby local businesses. A landscaped mound is built on top of the new arena and embraces the hardscape plaza. The district flexes to accommodate various events and adapts to the seasonal changes throughout the year to maintain its role as a social and commercial centre.
Part of Sudbury's latency is its large network of lakes and connecting waterways. The Junction Creek which currently runs through the city is known as a valued natural asset. However, many parts of it are buried under thick layers of concrete and it is threatened by industrial activities. The Creekscape is tied to an initiative to reveal parts of the river. By exposing the river, it can be more successful as means for flood management, a source for drinking water, recreation, eco-tourism, habitat and wildlife.
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