Rewilding the Gardiner Expressway, a multimedia exhibition of video, images and sound, illustrates an imaginary walk underneath the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto from Dan Leckie Way to Cherry Street. In this imaginary, the viewer travels following the Gardiner, and simultaneously takes a walk along Leslie Street Spit through its wilderness. The spaces under the Gardiner are left to rewild through the action of the water, bringing a lake experience closer to the city, and a wild aesthetic to the urban realm.
The development of this project included a number of soundwalks along the Gardiner Expressway and Leslie Street Spit, aimed at exploring and capturing the acoustic and physical properties of both spaces.
The Gardiner Expressway runs parallel to the shore of Lake Ontario and serves traffic in downtown Toronto. The road, built in the 1950s and 1960s, is elevated as it passes the downtown core of the city, leaving a network of roads and underused spaces underneath that hinder the connection between city and lake. Leslie Street Spit is an artificial peninsula on Toronto’s lakeshore produced by over 50 years of lakefilling. Originally intended as an outer harbor for the city, the Spit become an spontaneous wilderness through ecological succession. Today the Spit remains active as a dumping site for surplus material for nearby construction and is managed by Toronto and Region Conservation Authority as an urban wilderness park for the public and wildlife benefit.
For the exhibition, images, videos and soundtracks are used in conjunction to present an experience of place. The images are compositions of photographs of the Gardiner and the Spit that frame the time and space of the imagined wilderness. They reveal the architecture of the Gardiner and the nature of the Spit in snapshots. The soundtracks of the Spit that accompany the images immerse the viewer into this new landscape. Through sound, the viewer becomes aware of time, of the animals that inhabit those spaces, changes in seasons, or the surfaces and uses of the space. Sound also reveals the unique acoustic quality of the spaces underneath the Gardiner, with the humming of the traffic, and the reverberation of the structure.
Rewilding the Gardiner Expressway will be exhibited at Evergreen Brick Works, Toronto as part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival throughout May.
Rewilding the Gardiner | Usue Ruiz Arana
Location | Toronto
Designer | Usue Ruiz Arana (Associate Landscape Architect at OOBE)
Credits for images and text | Usue Ruiz Arana