The project brief was to design a year-round public market and cooking school on the site of a parking lot, located in the 'Annex' neighbourhood of Toronto.
Studying the history of the site, I discovered that this area was once a system of rivers and ravines that used to span from north of the Annex, right down to Lake Ontario. Since the late 1800s, new settlement and infrastructure resulted in the filling in of these ravines and rivers — such as Garrison Creek — replaced with dense residential and commercial structures in brick and concrete.
My concept for this project was to reverse the leveling of this once undulating landscape. I began by envisioning the pouring of solid concrete on the site, up to the height of the surrounding buildings. Based on my circulation studies of pedestrians crossing the existing site, I began to carve passages out of the block. I experimented with clay in the process. As a river might carve its way across rock and through soil, a ghostly creek makes its mark on the cityscape, creating a void through the centre. The result is a meandering pathway, shaping four separate but associated structures.
The largest structure, on the west half of the site, becomes the three-story public market. A continuous system of ramps enables accessible movement throughout the entire market. The ramps too take organic curved shapes for smoother circulation. To the south of this building is a small history museum, dedicated to the settlement of Toronto in this area. Beside that is a retail space for chefs' supplies. Adjacent is a garage door to access underground parking and loading.
On the third level, the market adjoins the cooking school with an enclosed bridge. The school is located to the east of the site, housing classrooms and kitchens, as well as a cafe on ground level that can be accessed from the pathway. The students would be regular vendors within the market space too, with stalls set up on the third floor.
The Garrison Market and Cooking School serves as a lively community hub and a monument to the natural history of this particular site.
This project's references: