Living Bridges: Urban Infrastructure as a Multi-use Economic Asset

The 6th Annual Grey to Green Conference is taking place May 15-16, 2018 in Downtown Toronto. Grey to Green focuses on green infrastructure design, research and policy and connects professionals working to integrate natural elements into the built environment. Grey to Green features a wide variety of innovative, technical content on stormwater management, urban agriculture, biophilic design, green streets, the Internet of Things, and policy and program best practices.

  Credit: Farrow Partners Inc, Architects

Credit: Farrow Partners Inc, Architects

On May 15th, Grey to Green commences with a FREE public forum at Toronto Metro Hall to discuss Designing Future Cities with Green Infrastructure. The keynotes of the evening include Claire Nelischer a Project Manager at the Ryerson City Building Institute, Deborah Martin-Downs the CAO of Credit Valley Conservation and Chair of the Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition, and Tye Farrow, Senior Partner at Farrow Prtners Inc, Architects

Tye Farrow will be exploring Farrow Partner's Living Bridge concept that stands to disrupt the way we design cities. 

As governments globally invest in the repair and upgrade of infrastructure, new possibilities are emerging. Infrastructure has traditionally been viewed as an ongoing maintenance expense which is chronically underfunded. As a result, for example, bridges are in a perpetual state of disrepair. What if bridges were designed as long-term, multi-use, high performing, revenue producing assets rather than single function, costly liabilities?

The idea of building multi-use, multi-functional buildings and neighborhoods has always been a core ingredient to creating highly successful cities. Equally, the idea of building multi-use infrastructure in the core of successful cities was invented long before car-centric planning norms dominated our thinking about urban bridges. In the Italian cities of Venice and Florence, the question that sparked an enormously successful and attractive solution was, “Where can we build a mix of housing, cafes, and shops in the middle of our densely developed city while generating ongoing revenues for infrastructure maintenance?”

Their answer resulted in what is today one of the top tourist attractions, housing among the most successful retail shops in each city. The Rialto Bridge in Venice and the Ponte Vecchio Bridge in Florence combine infrastructure with human-scale, walkable mixed-use urban assets.

Could we similarly build on the structurally over-designed foundations of our old bridges? Could these passive structures be animated with new life and activities, including housing? Could we literally bridge our weak urban links between neighborhoods to forge stronger community connections?

  Image Credit: Farrow Partners Inc. Architects

Image Credit: Farrow Partners Inc. Architects

The future of accessible, affordable housing and multi-use infrastructure will be built with lighter, more flexible, less expensive and more resource efficient construction materials and methods. A game-changing bonding and building system, Grip Metal, originally perfected within the auto industry, driven by lighter-less cost-better performance mindsets, has now opened new possibilities for abundance and massive innovation by enhancing the quality of life while reducing costs.

By marrying this new transformation in building technology mindset, with a need for affordable, vibrant housing with existing infrastructure of our old bridges, we have the ability to transform these passive structures to be animated with new life and activities, including new technology-enabled lightweight housing and services. We have the ability to literally bridge our weak urban links between neighborhoods to forge stronger community connections in the middle of urban centers.

Tye Farrow will be presenting at the Opening Plenary at Metro Hall on May 15th at 6:00 pm. To see the entire conference agenda click here and to register click here