For the past two years NXT City has been doing amazing things for the city of Toronto. Through their call to the public and selection process, they've brought about 200 creative public spaces ideas to our attention, worked with influential civic leaders, brought together public and private organizations, and fostered a collaborative community with their NXT City Night party. While that's all incredible, the most significant thing the organization has done is provide a platform for young innovators who have the next big and bright ideas for our city. This years prize winners had their 'eureka' moment, and we're so glad they did. Here's everything you need to know.
NXT City, a not-for-profit organization works tirelessly to bring together young leaders and city builders to inspire, create, and put programs into action in Toronto's public spaces. They challenge the city's innovators to think about projects that will help the public move, interact, work, commute, relax, play, or gather. A tall order for any creative mind, but that didn't stop nearly 150 people from submitting their public spaces ideas. Next, the jury - made up of the President of the Design Exchange, Shauna Levy, the Chief Planner and Executive of the City of Toronto, Jennifer Keesmaat, the Vice President of National Programs at Oxford Properties, Lachlan MacQuarrie, the Managing Director of OneEleven, Bilal Khan, and the Globe and Mail's architecture critic, Alex Bozikovic - had to narrow down the submissions to a shortlist of 30. From there 8 finalists were selected, and finally 2 runner-ups and 1 winner!
The varied finalists offered brilliant and fresh ideas, making the jury's job all the more daunting. One idea suggested a plan to innovate public transit accessibility, while another proposed aqua farms that would exist in city warehouses and provide sustainable food to the public. One runner-up, Urban Chats, would connect Torontonians with international members of the public in places like Berlin, Hong Kong, and Abu Dhabi, with internet connected structures that would translate the different languages spoken. The winning idea most certainly met the creative and innovative requirements.
Images via NXT City
The winning idea, Toronto Streetcar Safety Murals, was presented and conceived by the co-owners of Toronto-based agency Wysp Creative, Lucas DeClavasio and Andrew Patterson. The pair saw bikes and cars whizzing past the open doors of Toronto streetcars and passengers being put at risk when they would step out and thus their idea was born. The two proposed that the road space between the sidewalk and the street car, stretching the entire length of the streetcar, be painted with a mural. The mural would visually bring awareness to this 'safety zone' where cars aren't supposed to enter. The safety of streetcar passengers has been a much discussed issue in the city, and was brought to a tipping point earlier this year when a young girl was hit by a vehicle after exiting the streetcar.
The idea could be implemented through the work of commissioned public artists, bringing together the creative community with the City of Toronto and TTC to make the streets of Toronto safer and more vibrant! Juror and City of Toronto Chief Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat, has already reached out to NXT City and the winners in the hopes of making this idea happen and soon! Toronto Streetcar Safety Murals is perfect - it's a powerful, creative, and impactful idea that can easily be executed inexpensively!