Community Cultivation

This redesign of the Laurier Heights Shopping Centre was my submission for the CRSC Strip Appeal Competition [www.strip-appeal.com]. The competition asked how underused mid-century strip malls could be redesigned and repurposed to create lively spaces for their communities. To preface any further explanation, a far better approach to the competition would have been choosing a more compact site and attempting a truly radical re-programming. Upon realizing that part-way into the project, I decided to continue exploring the project as I had defined it for myself: searching for a pragmatic solution to enliven Laurier Heights’ strip mall.

The strip mall is perfectly sited to function as a community hub. It is adjacent to a K-9 school, church, and seniors' home, and sits at the primary entrance to the neighborhood. My approach centered on adding a non-commercial function to the site to encourage greater use. I settled on gardening as an activity with broad enough appeal to engage all three adjacent communities. The proposal maintains existing businesses and contains indoor and outdoor gardening areas. Supporting this program is a large hall suitable for community events and markets, with garage doors that open onto the adjacent plaza during the summer. The building is designed so that it could be built in stages, softening development risk.