Expanding Space

Author’s description:
Redefining Persian Cultural Hub in Toronto through Interactive Architecture (deployable Market shell and Gathering shell). Persian communities in Toronto use certain public spaces as a group. One of the less obvious, but interesting, spaces that serve as cultural hubs for these communities are strip malls. These cultural-commercial spaces sometimes act as spaces for political protest or cultural gatherings. This observed use of space was the basis of this project and formed the initial design question: “how can we start thinking of the strip mall as a public gathering space?” In seeking the answer to this question, there were challenges to face. The nature of strip malls is that they sometimes act as a public space and sometimes as a parking space. In order to expand the public uses of these kinds of hubs, space needs to be shared between cars and people. This project therefore seeks to explore a dynamic (interactive) architecture that can be expanded based on the different conditions of the site (strip mall). The project aims to study and employ three different elements to create prototypes that have the capacity to expand limited space in this context: the strip mall’s spatial qualities, deployable techniques for creating a dynamic space, and Persian culture. Among several models produced using deployable techniques, two prototypes have been developed as the most appropriate models for expanding the public space in a Persian context. These are the “Market Shell” and “Gathering Shell.” When there is a cultural or social occasion after business hours, these shells activate the strip mall through the functional space that they provide. However, during opening hours, these shells are deactivated to permit the stores and parking area of the strip mall to function.

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