Revitalizing Toronto’s Waterfront Through Creative Placemaking

Waterfront BIA

The community is shaping the future of their public spaces in this placemaking pilot

Creative Placemaking

Creative Consulting

Community Engagement - Production Management - Call for artists

Revitalizing Toronto’s Waterfront Through Creative Placemaking | MASSIVart - Creative Consulting

With the continuous aspiration to improve the experience for their visitors, the Waterfront BIA in Toronto identified three public spaces along the waterfront that could benefit from increased vibrancy and a stronger destination appeal.

Empowering Community Engagement

In an effort to better enhance the waterfront public realm, the Waterfront BIA brought MASSIVart on board to conduct public space research and engage with the community to assess the current context and better understand how these spaces could be enhanced through creative placemaking interventions.

In order to evaluate the potential of these three waterfront spaces, we started by interviewing key stakeholders to inform the current context for each space. In-person engagement sessions were also conducted to gather direct feedback from locals and visitors on what’s currently working and what’s missing that could contribute to a more vibrant public space. To complement this in-person engagement and to make this research as accessible as possible, we also launched an online survey.

Creative Direction, Fabrication and Installation

After analyzing the public space research, stakeholder input, and feedback from the community, a location for the pilot was selected and a creative direction was presented to the BIA. Informed by the creative direction, MASSIVart launched a call for artists and helped the client select the creative proposal that best responded to the community’s feedback.

Alpha Bravo Charlie by Toronto-based designers CK-JJ was chosen to bring multiple interactive decks to the waterfront Promenade, taking the nautical alphabet as a point of inspiration, interpreting and transforming the International maritime signal flags into three-dimensional, occupiable decks.

In addition to providing creative direction, MASSIVart supervised the fabrication and installation process of the different modules, ensuring seamless execution from concept to completion.

Impactful Activation and Community Feedback

Following observational studies, the team found the level of engagement was a success as 19% of passers-by interacted with the Alpha Bravo Charlie decks. The community was also more likely to spend more time at the location, through sitting, eating, and engaging with the placemaking activation. Foot traffic also increased by 22% during the activation.

In 2023 the Waterfront BIA decided to bring Alpha Bravo Charlie back, restaging it at HTO Park. In bringing the award-winning activation back, the Waterfront’s public spaces have been further enhanced, continuing to incorporate playful elements like chess boards, little free libraries, and inviting public seating. All of these elements further engage the community and activate their gathering spaces.