19 November 2017
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Alphabet and Toronto to build high-tech community

19 October 17 - RE+D Magazine
Alphabet and Toronto to build high-tech community

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Antulio Richetta

Director IBI Group
Alphabet-owned smart-city unit Sidewalk Labs has been selected by Toronto to create a large-scale, high-tech location in the city.

 

The move follows development agency Waterfront Toronto’s recent call for help in building a waterside community, and in establishing it as a testbed for emerging technologies. Alphabet said it will start by creating a new, ground-up neighbourhood called Quayside just southeast of downtown Toronto.

From there, it will take successful ideas and scale them across 800 acres on the eastern waterfront. Sidewalk Labs released a 196-page document brimming with the company's extensive ideas, including high-speed ferries, parks that can be adapted to the seasons, and robotic waste removal vehicles.

The project is funded by Waterfront Toronto, a public agency backed by the federal, provincial, and city governments. The area aims to become an innovation hub for technologies that improve city life, from green energy systems, to self-driving transit and new construction techniques that can lower housing costs, the companies said in a statement.

The over 3mn sq ft. mixed-use development will also be built using cutting edge innovations in construction. Sidewalk Labs and the local authorities hope to turn the area into a “place for tens of thousands of people to live, work, learn and play – and to create and advance new ideas that improve city life”.

A new building typology Sidewalk Labs calls "Loft" will be demonstrated within the community, which would feature rigid, standardised exterior shells with flexible interiors capable of being modified to accommodate drastic changes in building use.

This model would allow for vast increases in building speed with lower construction costs than standard building typologies. It also plugs into the Jacobsian ethos of bringing new life to old—or in this case existing—buildings, allowing the modular structures to be adapted for future use instead of being replaced entirely.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Google Canada will also move their headquarters to anchor the new development in the city. Trudeau joined Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt and Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory at a news conference to introduce the project. “The notion of the city as a platform — combining physical infrastructure, digital infrastructure, governance and then enabling people to create on top of it — is a completely different approach to city building,” said Doctoroff.

The smart community will be built with a focus on urban design and new technology. A CA$1.25bn (US$1bn) investment will go toward flood protection and the creation of infrastructure necessary to kick off development.

Source: Constructionglobal.com

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