Incisions + Incubators | Shift Landscape Architecture


Incisions + Incubators was completed for the Homegrown National Park Exhibition. Shift was one of eight invited firms to participate in this design exhibit sponsored by the David Suzuki Foundation and organized by Workshop Architecture. The projects were exhibited as part of a summer long event drawing attention to the idea of developing small scale initiatives which could increase the environmental sustainability of Toronto, Ontario.




Incisions + Incubators provides a way for schoolyards (or other asphalt intensive environments) to become more permeable, biodiverse and educational. Through the process of cutting the asphalt and creating a variety of environments the yard becomes more supportive of ecological processes and provides creative opportunities for the programming of these spaces. These cuts or Incisions are supported and marked by structures called Incubators.


Incubators are replicable, prefabricated structures that can be constructed off site and assembled in situ. The simple construction and assembly will reduce costs while allowing for involvement from the community to work alongside skilled trades people. The opportunity exists for the incubators to be placed not only within schoolyards but throughout the Homegrown National Park like totems calling attention to a variety of landscape types.


As well as providing habitat and infrastructural support the incubators are laboratories and education scaffolds. They allow for the testing of new green roof and artificial wetland technologies; agriculture practices; and growing & propagation techniques. Incubators support and call attention to critical landscape and urban issues as well as recalling pre development environments found within the City.


The incisions can be planted to highlight specific learning outcomes. For instance one may highlight plants used by First Nations people another providing habitat for monarch butterflies. The acknowledgement of these Incisions and Incubators as artificial environments allows them to support many roles and opens them up to unlimited learning possibilities.


It is suggested that over time, through the aggregation of the Incisions + Incubators the surface can become almost entirely permeable and ecologically beneficial. Since this is not envisioned as an immediate reconstruction, there are great economic and educational benefits. These individual spaces can be made when budgets and manpower allow. This bottom-up process makes the evolution more legible and coherent to the community. Incisions + Incubators does not create or espouse an urban environment in which citizens must give up current conveniences to achieve sustainable aims, but rather shows that mundane space can be reworked simply and economically to the benefit of all.


We envision a future city marked with these large structures marching across the landscape, illuminating a revitalized view and understanding of 21st century urban space.

Client | David Suzuki Foundation and Workshop Architecture for the National Homegrown Park Exhibition

Design Firm | Shift Landscape Architecture



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About Damian Holmes 5666 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at