Through traditional planning urban corridors (like YUL MTL) are developed top-down. It generally leads to representation and branding on a metropolitan scale but also to barriers without functioning connections between surrounding communities and citizens. The Montreal International Gateway Corridor is not very different from others, as heavy infrastructures are barriers; create ‘islands’ that function in isolation. Our hypothesis is that bottom-up developments can trigger key developments in corridors on a large scale:
– NETWORK introduces a local connective system that connects all types of infrastructures and that delivers stations and nodes.
– NETWORK also is the kick starter into the development of seven authentic, well connected islands in the corridor, each of which has its specific programming, lay-out, buildings and landscaping.
FIRST STEP: THE SEARCH AND DEFINITION OF HUMAN SCALE
How to grasp and introduce a human and meaningful urban scale in the corridor? We projected an archetypical boulevard -in this case the Paris Champs Elysees- on the extended domain of the corridor; despite its length of 8.5 kilometers it is walkable and it has a series of urban buildings within visibility range. The part between Louvre and La Defense fits the corridor two times on both sides of Saint Pierre. The analogy to Paris gives us three locations for new landmarks: two on the outer ends (Dorval and Ville Marie Tunnel) and one at Saint Pierre as its center. Each of the two legs can take three further monumental landmark buildings, all within visibility range.
SECOND STEP: BOTTOM UP STRATEGY THROUGH SATELLITES, STATIONS AND BRIDGES
On a local scale we connected key roads of boroughs on both sides over the corridor. Along these links (satellites) upgrading will start and trigger new local buildings embedded in street profiles and at squares in the boroughs. At points where the satellites cross the infrastructural bundle, a series of stations and bridges is designed. Stations are planned at points where satellites and heavy infra (road and rail) coincide. In a later phase the stations define the breeding grounds for landmark buildings, connected to the heavy infra. The bridges together with the landmark buildings make a scenographic composition like an urban boulevard.
THIRD STEP: COMPLETION OF THE NETWORK
On the scale of the corridor we complete the network by linking the satellites. The network with loops connects the local boroughs and communities with the heavy infrastructures and the seven islands. It is made of an elevated linear deck at +6 m. serviced with ramps, stairs, escalators and elevators. It has integrated lighting and facilities like service stations for bicycle and electric scooter rental and vehicles can pass below.
We consider the industrial heritage of warehouses along the Canal as a very valuable project. These buildings deserve to be highlighted, upgraded and extended. East Island has a lay-out of plots that can take future expansions of the old warehouses. We extended the warehousing further Westward through a series of new warehouses surrounded by a landscape the size of Central Park NY.
LANDSCAPE = SYNERGY
The outcome is that NETWORK does not deliver a specific landscape design. In NETWORK, the new urban landscape is defined by the synergy between bottom up developments and heavy infrastructural systems. Because of its extensive lay-out, coherence is not only a visual issue but for all one in synergy: locally triggered, connective, functional and programmatic.