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“Boom Town” Installation wins Bentway Design Competition

As part of the Waterfront ReConnect program, an unusual welcome wagon will animate the Gardiner’s dreary underpasses.

By Catherine Macintosh

It’s the elephant in the city: that pale grey behemoth that holds back our could-be waterfront dreams. The Gardiner is something to contend with on many levels; solutions to rerouting it or humanizing it or taking it down have come and gone, but not much changes. 

The Bentway has succeeded at giving life to the space underneath it, not to mention a cool factor. The non-profit has found a way to transform under-highway grit into a date-night spot and a family-friendly destination. A recent initiative (the national Waterfront ReConnect design competition) in conjunction with the City and local BIAs will see its winning designs temporarily take over Lakeshore Boulevard at York Street and Simcoe Street.

Boom Town - 5468796 Architecture + Office In Search Of - Winners of The Bentway competition
Boom Town – 5468796 Architecture + Office In Search Of – is one of the winners of the The Bentway’s Waterfront ReConnect National Design Competition

One of the Waterfront ReConnect design competition winners – “Boom Town,” proposed by 5468796 Architecture and Office In Search Of – will be installed in the fall of 2022 for three years (or until repairs start on that stretch of our dear frenemy above). Creative and sweet, the “Bent Buddies” make for a lighthearted welcome to the city. The installation’s trio of boom-lift characters animates the space with a Pixar-like simplicity that belies its impact. “The competition’s parameters were very stringent, and understandably so for a temporary installation,” says Johanna Hurme of 5468796 Architecture, who ultimately used that as an entry point to create an uplifting paysage. “In the end, [it] became a launching point for a simple solution that is memorable, playful and accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds.” Though some may see them as a bit future-dystopian, the googly-eyed Bent Buddies and cobalt-blue background will surely bring much happiness and many Instagram sessions. No need to overthink it – this is a serotonin delivery system in an otherwise depressing space, something we could certainly use more of in this town. THEBENTWAY.CA


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