Hapa Collaborative from Vancouver, British Columbia, with their design “Figure Ground” have won the Market Lane Design Competition in London, Ontario. The city of London, Canada is located midway between Detroit and Toronto. With a population of more than 365,000, it is the 10th largest city in Canada and serves as a regional hub for surrounding communities.
Like many North American cities, London has had a heavy reliance on the automobile. That love affair with the car has encouraged the construction of sprawling suburbs, massive shopping malls and big box retail stores. The affect on the city’s downtown was predictable: a once vibrant core became badly in need of rejuvenation and reclamation.
Market Lane is a small and uninspiring pedestrian laneway connecting Dundas Street, London’s main street, to Covent Garden Market. Albeit a relatively small new design project, Market Lane is in a key location and being redeveloped at a pivotal time in advance of the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships being hosted by the city. Not only will the lane play a key pedestrian role during the celebrations of the event, Fanshawe College will soon be opening its School of Applied and Performance Arts next door to Market Lane, bringing a whole new and young clientele to the area.
The design competition was launched last September as a two-step, national competition. Eighteen (18) submissions were received and five (5) teams were selected to proceed to stage-two of the competition. An independent design jury of local architects, landscape architects and urban designers adjudicated the submissions.
An on-line survey sought public input and those results were forwarded to the design teams as background information while developing proposals.
“ HAPA’s winning scheme offers Londoners an opportunity to realize a leading edge design that responds to their needs for a pedestrian focused, day and night, all season urban environment that is both delightful and elegant in its simplicity.” Steve Ries, Chair of the Jury for the Market Lane Design Competition
“Market Lane today is often considered a windy corridor: unpleasant, unsafe, and a route to somewhere else. Yet its presence in the mental map of most Londoners and common use as a shortcut makes it relevant and under appreciated. In the same way the downtown library has sparked renewed interest in London’s downtown, Market Lane can be the outdoor opportunity to catalyze a new urban revival in the public realm.” – Hapa Collaborative
“In part, the design for Market Lane must be a London narrative: a story of its central role in the agrarian history of southwestern Ontario, its location on the fabled Thames River, and its contemporary aspirations. In part, Market Lane must continue to be a linchpin in the urban apparatus, a critical shortcut that connects Dundas Street and Covent Garden Market, John Labatt Centre and Richmond Street. Most importantly, it must be elevated to a greater function: a ‘foyer’ for the larger downtown venues, a ‘porch’ for one of the country’s most recognized digital media schools, and a ‘living room’ for all Londoners.” – Hapa Collaborative
IMAGES: Hapa Collaborative