Tower Renewal Blog

Thorncliffe Park – Cultural Café in the Park




Throughout September 2016, Thorncliffe Park will host a cultural café, music, art and storytelling circles in its R.V. Burgess Park. These events, taking place each Saturday of the month, are spearheaded by the Thorncliffe Park Action Group (TAG), a dynamic collective responsible for the cultural café, and their supporting partner organization, Diasporic Genius. For the second year, ERA has been an active partner in this initiative, working alongside these organizations to design and build a unique mobile landscape.


For the past six months, ERA has worked with TAG to envision an adaptable, mobile platform for the cultural café. The result is a beacon and a place-maker; a space for sitting, for eating, for making music, and for sharing meals. Based on the uses imagined by TAG, ERA built a robust frame (see diagram), designed to be reconfigured to become a food stall, a library or an outdoor living room, and equipped with integral seating.

The mobile café becomes a living project – designed to be as playful, evolving and experimental as the dynamic group who uses it.”

The mobile cafe was completed through a series of community build days, during which TAG developed and installed a vibrant woven panel system. While the frame is permanent, the cladding system is designed to evolve as TAG itself evolves as a collective. Throughout this collaborative build process, ERA, TAG and Diasporic Genius were joined by students from Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute and members of Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office. The building days were testing grounds, making space for further evolution and reconfiguration as the mobile café is launched. In this way, the mobile café becomes a living project – one which is as playful and experimental as the dynamic group who uses it.



TAG’s mobile marketplace is a demonstration of the principles of Tower Renewal, an initiative to build robust local economies and complete communities in apartment tower neighbourhoods. In partnership with United Way, Toronto Public Health and the City of Toronto, ERA has worked for years to advocate for a new zoning category which will permit commercial and institutional uses in tower buildings throughout the City of Toronto. As this Residential Apartment Commercial zone nears implementation, it will open up a new set of opportunities for small-scale entrepreneurs like TAG.

Watch for upcoming posts throughout September, or come join in the fun from 5:30-8:30pm in R.V. Burgess Park on the following dates:

– Saturday, September 3rd *
– Saturday, September 10th
– Saturday, September 17th
– Saturday, September 24th

*This event has been relocated to the East York Town Centre mall parking lot.


Project Partners: