07 December 2010 Ideas

Reclaiming the Big Box Plaza

When I look at an ugly strip mall or a sprawling suburban development, I try to think of ways that it could be turned into a vibrant, compact neighbourhood. Though I don’t agree with everything James Howard Kunstler says, I think he’s right when he says that the decline of oil production will cause our cities to shrink and force us to develop more dense, mixed-use communities within the framework we already have.

So I saw this site plan for a new power centre that’s going to be built on the Western border of Kitchener-Waterloo.

It’s not the worst design in the world, but I wanted to paint a picture of what that block of land could become in the future. After spending 15 minutes with Photoshop, I had my vision of what this development could be 50 years from now.

A tight street network with active storefronts, pedestrian esplanades, reclaimed green space, and a nominal amount of parking, all without touching any of the existing buildings.

That’s what I hope many of our big-box suburban developments will become in the coming decades. Real neighbourhoods in place of monofunctional pods. What do you think?

Sam Nabi

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