January 24, 2011
by Canadian Architect
“Urban Ballroom” is Coryn Kempster’s proposal for the square at the intersection of King and John Streets in Toronto, which aims to provide the neighbourhood and its visitors an exciting and playful multi-functional outdoor room.
By radically opening up the under-utilized corner, the project facilitates connections for people coming from various directions, while concurrently creating distinct places for them to linger. As a sensitive intervention into the urban fabric, it addresses the needs of its varied occupants acting as a gathering spot, a place to eat lunch, an event space, and an inconspicuous playground.
To allow for different scales of occupation, from an individual to a crowd, the space is furnished in distinct zones, which blend between one another and the city’s sidewalks.
The ceiling of “Urban Ballroom” is formed by a web of individually solar-powered globe lights which illuminate the space and provide spatial definition, compressing the square in the middle through a catenary bulge. The hardscaped ground lifts up subtly; its complementary curvature allows the individual to look over the crowd. The east and west ends of the plaza are occupied by balls of various diameters geometrically grouped into informal seating areas.
Through simple interventions, “Urban Ballroom” is a unique addition to the public realm of Toronto’s Entertainment District.
Kempster is the grand prize winner, while Pete North has taken second prize with his proposal entitled “Entertain Me.” The three remaining finalists are: David Colussi for King Street Staircase; Rohan Almeida for King Street Terrace; and Martin Gravel for Oracle Square.
For more information, please visit www.torontoed.com/johnst.