How Our Efforts to Create a Destination led to Building a more Vibrant, Intergenerational, and Community-driven Public Space


In the bustling heart of Toronto’s waterfront lies a story of transformation, where aspirations to create a destination evolved into something far greater—a vibrant, inclusive, and intergenerational community hub.

What began as an initiative to enhance public spaces along the waterfront soon became a testament to the power of creative placemaking and community engagement.

Toronto’s Waterfront BIA: A Case Study in Community Connection

The journey commenced with the Waterfront BIA‘s commitment to enriching visitor experiences along the waterfront. Recognizing the potential of three key public spaces to become vibrant hubs of activity, the BIA enlisted the expertise of MASSIVart to conduct thorough public space research and engage with the community.

Toronto's Waterfront BIA creative placemaking and public art installation by CK-JJ, produced and curated by MASSIVart.

Through interviews, in-person sessions, and an online survey, we got valuable insights into community desires and aspirations.

Understanding the community’s pulse is crucial before transforming public spaces. By listening to residents, visitors, and collaborators, we gain insights that lay the groundwork for successful placemaking. Community engagement builds trust, fosters collaboration, and ensures active participation, resulting in vibrant, co-created spaces filled with pride and ownership.

Multi-functional Art at the Heart of the Pilot

Armed with a deep understanding of community needs, MASSIVart set out to breathe new life into the waterfront. A creative direction emerged, and we embarked on a mission to test the boundaries of multi-functional art for testing out what works in the public realm.

Alpha Bravo Charlie by CK-JJ was born—a collection of interactive decks inspired by the nautical alphabet, designed to transform the waterfront Promenade into a dynamic playground of possibilities. The success of Alpha Bravo Charlie lay not only in its artistic appeal but in its versatility. The abstract decks were activated through leisure, games and educational opportunities, enlivening the space for different occupants and different uses.

Toronto's Waterfront BIA creative placemaking and public art installation by CK-JJ, produced and curated by MASSIVart.

Beyond Expectations

Observational studies revealed a remarkable level of interaction, with 19% of passers-by embracing the playful spirit of Alpha Bravo Charlie. Foot traffic surged by 22%, as individuals of all ages found themselves drawn to the colourful decks, eager to explore, play, and connect.

But the impact extended beyond mere numbers—it contributed to a healthier public space. Quality foot traffic graced the Promenade, spanning generations and fostering inclusivity. Seniors and children alike found comfort in the vibrant surroundings, weaving a rich tapestry of community interaction. Notably, there was a remarkable increase of 1,550% in visitors aged 65 and older, and a notable rise of 1,150% in the 5 to 14-year-old demographic, showcasing the broad appeal and inclusive nature of the installation.

Additionally, +700% of visitors stayed for eating, signifying a significant increase in engagement with the space for leisure activities. Furthermore, there was a notable surge of 261% in visitors sitting, indicating a greater propensity for prolonged enjoyment and socializing within the installation.
Toronto's Waterfront BIA creative placemaking and public art installation by CK-JJ, produced and curated by MASSIVart.

The true measure of success lies in the unforeseen outcomes. What began as an endeavour to create a destination transcended expectations, revealing the untapped potential of creative placemaking.


Interested in learning more about creative placemaking? Explore our guide for real estate developers and cities.