Tower Renewal Blog

Incremental Strategies w/ Filipe Balestra

Image courtesy of Architecture for Humanity Toronto


Recently Architecture for Humanity and Ryerson University hosted a charrette to explore opportunities for Toronto’s Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood in light of the newly developed RAC Zone.

Kicking off the event was a presentation by Filipe Balestra of Urban Nouveau, who discussed his work in “Incremental Housing Strategy” in India, Brazil, Portugal, and Stockholm, as well as the approach’s applicability to Toronto’s Towers. For the rest of the day, Filipe, ERA’s Graeme Stewart, and Elise Hug from the City of Toronto advised and critiqued the work of participating students, alumni, and professionals.

The day’s output did not disappoint, with teams proposing a variety of interventions focused on food, children, convenience, creativity, green space, and other themes. This creative thinking illustrated how modest interventions have the potential to transform and catalyze community life.

RAC zoning is a huge step forward in lifting constraints and offering new community opportunities such as cafés, grocery stands, community spaces, and other small businesses and amenities that are currently prohibited.

The next challenge is to see this potential come to life.  Incremental-type approaches, like those employed by Filipe and his team, offer inspiring new ways of bringing stakeholders together to design, plan, and execute positive change in communities. Similar approaches are currently being undertaken by United Way Toronto, the City of Toronto, and a growing list of partners.

We look forward to seeing the exciting developments for Thorncliffe Park and all of Toronto’s high-rise communities in the days ahead.